Serves 2, maybe 3
It's vegetarian as long as you use vegetable stock. This soup breaks very easily when you try to reheat, so don't make ahead or expect to have pretty leftovers, though it still tasted good.
1/2 Tbsp + 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1/2 of a large onion, 1/4 inch diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced finely
1-1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock (or you can use chicken stock)
1-1/2 cups 1/4 to 3/8 inch diced broccoli stems (I used 2 that were leftover from using the florets)
2 small carrots, trimmed, peeled, and diced into 1/4 to 3/8 inch dice
3/8 to 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
3/8 to 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/8 cup AP flour
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp smoked (or regular) paprika or to taste, optional
1/4 tsp dry mustard powder or to taste, optional
pinch cayenne pepper or to taste, optional
4 ounces grated high quality sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, with a small amount reserved for garnishing
In a large sauce pan, place the 1/2 Tbsp butter and onions over medium heat and cook until onions become translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the stock, the broccoli, the carrots, and the salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are soft but still hold their shape.
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the 2 Tbsp butter, add the flour, and stir for 3-4 minutes to make a roux.
Add a little bit of the stock to the roux and stir. Then, stir the roux mixture into the stock mixture and stir until it thickens some. Add the half-and-half, cream, and remaining seasonings if using. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring from time to time to keep skin from forming on the top. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the cheddar, remembering to reserve some for garnish, then return pan to low heat and stir quite often until warmed through and cheese is melted. Ladle into bowls and add the reserved cheese to garnish.