Seared Broccoli-Potato Chowder

I love making soup, but I am not a big fan of boiling broccoli.  This recipe sears the broccoli in a skillet, which avoids bad smells and adds extra flavor from caramelization.  I used mild-ish poblano chiles for this but you can just use different peppers — sweeter or hotter — instead.  Substitute more olive oil for the butter to make a vegan soup.Cut the florets off 2 heads of broccoli and slice the largest ones in half.  Peel the tough skin off the stems and discard, then chop the stems into smaller pieces.

Heat 2 T. olive oil in a large soup pot and add a single layer of broccoli on the bottom.  Sprinkle with salt and cook on high heat for 3-4 minutes, until it is well-browned on one side only.  Transfer the broccoli to a bowl or plate and repeat until you’ve seared all the broccoli.  You will need to add more oil.

Sear 1 fresh whole poblano pepper on all sides (you can do this in a separate pan).  Allow to cool, then remove the stem and seeds as well as any blackened skin.  Chop the pepper roughly.

Lower the heat and add 2 T. butter and another 2 T. olive oil to the pot.   Trim and clean 1-2 leeks, then dice finely to make 2 C.  Add to the pot along with 5 minced cloves of garlic and the poblano pepper.  Cook until the leeks are completely soft.

Peel and thinly slice potatoes to make 2 C.  Add to the pot along with 1 quart of water, 1 tsp. salt and lots of black pepper.  Bring a boil and simmer until the potatoes are tender.

Add the broccoli and simmer for another 5-7 minutes, until it is also tender.

Puree roughly in the pot with an immersion blender, leaving a few chunks for texture.  Add the juice of one lemon, and season with salt and pepper.

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