|The fresh croutons add a delicious crispy complement to the soup|
2 1/2-in. thick slices of bread, cut into 1/2-in. pieces
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 med. russet potato, cut into 1/2-in. pieces
1 bunch broccoli (about 1 1/4 pound), heads cut into small florets, stalks thinly sliced
salt and pepper
3 cups water or chicken broth
1 cup lowfat milk
1/4 tsp. freshly grated or ground nutmeg
6 oz sharp cheddar, coarsely grated
1. Heat oven to 400F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the bread with 1 Tbsp oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until golden brown and crisp, 5-7 minutes; set aside.
2. Heat the remaining Tbsp oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery, garlic, onion, potato, broccoli stalks, 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally until just tender, 5-6 minutes.
3. Add the florets and 3 cups water to the vegetables, cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes until broccoli is just tender.
4. Remove from heat and puree in batches in a blender. Add milk and nutmeg and heat through, about 2 minutes. Add cheese and stir until melted. Serve with croutons.