As long as there is a chill in the air, there will be a pot of soup simmering on my stove at some point during the week. I’ve long believed soup to be one of the easiest ways to get healthy food on the table, but I also think its value extends beyond the simple function of a meal. Soup is physically and emotionally nourishing, warming and I can’t think of an easier way to reduce waste in our home kitchens. About once a week, I usually find a few odds and ends of herbs or vegetables tucked in some corner of the fridge. Often, this is where the idea for the soup will begin.

This is a recipe that tastes more decadent than it actually is. You could add chicken or white beans for added protein. I also think this soup would be lovely with eggplant instead of potatoes, and delightful with the addition of browned spicy ground sausage. The wonderful thing about soups overall is they are so easy to fiddle with to get just right for you. I happen to love the flavor of Parmesan, especially in combination with herbs, but you might find you prefer sharp cheddar cheese instead.

You’ll notice the recipe calls for High Desert Herbs, which is an herb blend we make at Stokli. If you don’t have the High Desert Herbs blend on hand, I’ll let you in on a secret. You can easily make this yourself or pick and choose what herbs sound best to you. The High Desert Herbs blend is a combination of marjoram, sage, rosemary, thyme, New Mexico red chile flakes and lavender in equal parts. I first made this blend for sprinkling on potatoes. It soon became my go-to herb blend that I use for seasoning soups, stews, beans, eggs, meats, roasting vegetables, etc. It combines all of my favorite Southwest flavors into one delightfully herbaceous blend.

Parmesan Potato and Broccoli Soup

Makes: 6 servings; total time: 1½ hours

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 large yellow onion, diced

8 ounces mushrooms, diced

4-6 carrots, diced

3-5 celery stalks and leaves, diced

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon High Desert Herbs blend

2 teaspoons red chile powder, or to taste

1 can (14.5 ounces), unsweetened coconut cream

4-6 Yukon Gold potatoes, depending on size

6 cups vegetable broth

½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

3 cups broccoli, florets and stemmed and diced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation: In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil and butter. Add the onion and mushrooms, cooking for around 15 minutes until they start to caramelize. Add the carrots, celery and garlic, cooking and stirring about five minutes more. Add the High Desert Herbs and red chile powder. Cook for a minute or so. Now is our time to deglaze: Add the coconut cream and scrape any caramelized bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the potatoes and vegetable broth. Add a pinch of salt and let cook at a simmer over low heat for around 30 minutes, or until the carrots and potatoes are tender. Add the Parmesan and broccoli and cook for a few minutes until the cheese has melted into the soup. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Marianne Sundquist is a chef, food business consultant and shares recipes on Instagram @chefmariannesundquist. She co-founded Stokli in 2020, an online general store with a mission to champion local growers and makers of dry goods. Visit stokli.com and email her at marianne@stokli.com.

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