2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 (14.5-ounce) cans chicken broth
1 bunch broccoli (about 1½ pounds), cut into florets, stems peeled and chopped, or 2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen broccoli. If using fresh broccoli, save a few smaller pieces for garnish
2 cups milk
4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, softened
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Basil cream for serving (recipe follows)
Blend flour with butter in a small bowl; set aside. In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil. Over medium heat, sauté onion and celery until onion is translucent. Do not allow onion to brown. Add broth to pot and bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat and add broccoli to the pot. Simmer, covered, until broccoli is tender, 20 minutes for fresh broccoli or according to package directions for frozen broccoli.
Remove pot from heat. With an immersion-type blender, blend mixture until smooth. (If you do not have an immersion blender, carefully pour soup into another container. Then, in batches, fill a blender halfway with soup, puréeing mixture until smooth, returning soup to the pot as it is puréed.) Return pot to medium heat and add milk, allow to simmer for 3 to 4 minutes or until hot. Add flour/butter mixture to the soup, a tablespoon at time, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Lower heat and gently cook for 2 minutes more. Season with salt and fresh pepper to taste. To serve, ladle soup into bowl, then top each bowl with a tablespoon of the basil cream, swirling as desired. Serve immediately. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Kitchen Ade note: Leftover soup may be refrigerated. If it becomes too thick, thin with water or additional milk.