Cream of Broccoli Soup with Aged Cheddar Cheese

(This recipe has been kid-tested and approved!)

1 1⁄2 lb. broccoli trimmed and tough stems peeled
2 Tbls. unsalted butter
1 yellow onion chopped fine
1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
5 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock, heated
1⁄2 tsp. dried thyme
1 Tbls. lemon juice
2 cups milk
1⁄2 lb. aged sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt and white pepper

Reserve 1⁄2 cup small florets from the broccoli. Coarsely chop the remaining broccoli and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until it begins to brown, 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and sauté, stirring, for about 1 minute more. Whisking continuously, slowly pour in the stock. Add the chopped broccoli, thyme and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the broccoli is very tender, about 20 minutes.

About 5 minutes before the broccoli is done, bring a small saucepan filled with water to a boil and lightly salt the water. Add the reserved florets and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and keep warm.

In small batches, purée the soup in a food mill, a food processor fitted with the metal blade or in a blender, taking care to avoid splattering. Return the purée to the pan, stir in the milk and bring to a simmer over low heat.

Reserve a small handful of cheese and sprinkle the rest into the soup; stir over low heat until the cheese melts and blends in. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Ladle into warmed bowls and garnish with the cooked broccoli florets and reserved cheese, or sprinkle with popcorn and watch your kids get their veggies as they fish for their popcorn.