Farm to Fork, a CSA Series: Taking the Easy Way Out...Broccoli, Cheese and Quick Pickles

This is part 3 of a summer long series about our CSA boxes and what we do with them. Recipes for Broccoli Cheese Soup and Instructions for Quick Pickles follow.

Suddenly I hated broccoli.  


I used to boast that I’ve liked every vegetable I have ever tasted. But when I kept pulling bunches of broccoli from the depths of my CSA box, I found myself filled with dread.  


I’m not sure where this avoidance came from, especially since I’ve enjoyed broccoli in the past. All I know is that I really did not want to eat my broccoli.  We had been avoiding two weeks worth of broccoli stuffed into the back of our fridge, instead enjoying radish and cucumber salads, sweet and sour cabbage, and fresh sweet peapods. When I found another bunch in the last CSA box, I decided it was time to act. I surveyed Twitter. I scoured Chowhound. I Googled and I Pinterested until I accepted that the only way I was going to eat this broccoli was to combine it with cheese. I was most inspired by Emeril’s version of broccoli cheese soup and created my own gluten-free version based upon the contents of my CSA box.  


This week, I also tackled my kohlrabi insecurities. Bluebird Gardens, which provides our CSA boxes, posts recipes submitted by staff and members. A recipe for pickled kohlrabi caught my eye. Although I haven’t tackled canning yet, I have begun experimenting with quick pickling. Quick pickling is a simple way to use small quantities of vegetables that will be eaten within a few weeks. In the spirit of Portlandia’s motto, “We can pickle that!,” I look forward to refining my skills and experimenting with different CSA vegetables and vinegars.  


Quick Pickling

I use a mixture of about half vinegar, half water, leaning heavier on the water. Then, I add salt, hot pepper, sugar, and freshly sliced (or grated) ginger and garlic. Taste the mixture and add more ingredients to taste. On one occasion, I marinated sliced cucumber in this liquid. More recently, I heated the liquid until boiling and poured into a jar containing the vegetables. I let the jars cool on the counter and stored in the refrigerator. As the recipe for pickled kohlrabi suggests, try also adding peppercorns and lemon zest.


The pickled kohlrabi was blissfully crunchy and mild in flavor. The pickled broccoli and cauliflower stems had a funkier, cruciferous flavor.  




Odds & Ends

I only used the florets in the soup. Then I peeled the stems and reserved for quick pickles.  


Make croutons from regular or gluten-free bread by dicing into cubes. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake on a sheet pan at 350 degrees, tossing occasionally until crispy. For even quicker croutons, toast in a skillet until crispy.  

 Scraps for stockScraps for stock

As usual, I didn’t use exact measurements, but fortunately soups and pickles are kind to improvisation. The measurements are intended to be rough guidelines and altered to your tastes and preferences.  


Try to remember to save your vegetable scraps. My herbalist friend throws hers into a container stored in the freezer. When it becomes full, she simply heats the frozen scraps in a pot with water and salt, creating vegetable stock. 


CSA Vegetable & Cheese Soup



Olive oil and/or butter, enough to coat bottom of pan

Cauliflower florets from one small head

Broccoli florets from one small bunch

Scraps of kohlrabi

2-3 small onions, chopped

Sliced hot chili (optional)

Chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water

Worcestershire Sauce, to taste.  (I added several good dashes)

White pepper, to taste

Thyme, couple pinches

Approximately 1-1/2 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I combined this with a small amount of American cheese. Not a foodie favorite, but I like to keep some on hand. When the craving for a childhood grilled cheese strikes, nothing else will do. Plus it melts nicely)

Heavy cream, a couple drizzles (could substitute milk or half and half)

Lemon zest

Corn starch, about one tablespoon whisked in a little water.

Green onion, thinly sliced



Heat oil in a pot. Sauté vegetables for a few minutes. Add stock and water to the pot until it reaches about an inch above the vegetables. If the stock is too salty, use part stock and part water. Simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender. 


In small batches, blend to the consistency you desire. Pour soup back into pot to simmer.  


Add Worcestershire sauce, white pepper, thyme, and gently stir in the shredded cheese. Drizzle in cream. Taste for seasoning, adding more spices, cream, or cheese to your desire. Add the zest of one lemon.


If you’d like the soup to be thicker, try adding a cornstarch slurry. Whisk a tablespoon of cornstarch into a little water and add to the hot soup.  


Gently simmer until ready to serve. Serve with homemade croutons and sliced green onion, or your choice of garnishes. (This batch served 4-6.)  


Enjoy and be sure to let us know how you use broccoli or how/what you pickle! 

Jeni Hill grew up in the Twin Cities and recently moved to Fargo. Her two sustaining passions are food and writing and she combines the two whenever she gets the chance. Jeni believes food is never just about the food and considers it the finest medium to connect with others. When she is not crafting contributions to Simple Good & Tasty, she may be posting to her blog An Herbalist Eats20food, or Fargo's High Plains Reader. Her last non-CSA article for us was: An adopted Korean makes her first batch of lefse.