In the last few weeks, the idea of a Michigan Monday series of posts jumped into my head. I have several different cookbooks based on Michigan specialties, products and restaurants. And, of course, every region of the US claims specialty products or the fact they have “the best” of something or another. Earlier this year, I did a post on Michigan Pasties – a food more prominent in the UP (Upper Peninsula) of the state, yet equally loved by us in the lower region too! It’s a favorite cool weather food in our house. I’ve also made Lobster Corn Dogs and Shrimp Diablo, both recipes from finer dining establishments in the area.
And then I made this soup. A copy-cat recipe from a Michigan based chain restaurant…and I thought, why not start the series today. My plan is to alternate Shout-Out Sunday and Michigan Monday posts. Only time will tell where this goes! In the meantime…let’s eat soup.
Do you have an Olga’s Kitchen in your neck of the woods? The creator, Olga Loizon, opened her first “restaurant” in Birmingham, Michigan in 1970. I’m calling it a “restaurant”, because it actually was a 10×10 booth at a food market. By the mid 1970s, her restaurants were staples in most Metro Detroit malls. They were indeed real restaurants by then. This was a whole new dining experience compared to other casual, sit-down restaurants our area offered at the time. The cuisine is Mediterranean inspired…soups, salads and sandwiches. The sandwiches are served in Olga bread – an “amped up” pita. It’s delicious! My first memory of eating lamb was at Olga’s. The Olga Original – her version of a gyro.
Besides jumping on the bandwagon of low fat/low carb/low calorie options, Olga’s menu has remained pretty much the same after all these years. Thank goodness! In my opinion, there’s no need to mess with perfection.
My kids grew up on Olga’s. A meal there was always the perfect bribery for good behavior while shopping. Now, I had one child who would eat just about anything…Mandy. She is still an adventurous eater and will try just about anything. I also had a picky eater…Travis. He is still a picky eater…though, these days he will try more things, he still prefers what he calls the staples – pizza, burgers, etc. Pleasing both kids at one restaurant proved difficult at times. But not at Olga’s.
They always ordered the same thing – and still do 20+ years later. A three cheese Olga and a cup of broccoli soup with snackers [basically seasoned pita triangle crackers] on the side. Travis eating broccoli soup?? He loved it! Now, this is the same child [who to this day] claims he doesn’t like cooked broccoli. Only raw…and of course, covered in ranch dressing. Back then, it was the perfect way to get some much needed veggie vitamins in his growing body.
I’ve tried making various broccoli soups over the years. I had been unsuccessful many, many times. Until I found a recipe, here, which I tweaked and seasoned and thickened to please my Olga broccoli soup loving family. I’ve made it twice in just the last two weeks since it pleased my picky eater, Travis, so much!
1/2 cup diced onion
6 Tablespoons butter
6 Tablespoons flour
6 cups Vegetable Stock [or chicken stock if you prefer]
3 cups finely chopped broccoli [preferably heads only]
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2¼ cups milk, divided use [I used 1%]
1½ Tablespoon potato starch
- In a dutch oven, over medium heat, saute the onion until soft and almost transparent.
- Stir in the flour, stirring continuously, until well blended. The mixture will form a roux, or paste. Stir until it is light golden brown.
- Slowly pour in the vegetable stock, stir well to fully incorporate the onion mixture. The roux/paste will create a smooth base.
- Add the bay leaves, paprika, black pepper, nutmeg and broccoli. Stir well. Allow soup to come to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
- Simmer, uncovered, about 15 minutes. The broccoli will soften and brighten in color.
- Pour in 2 cups of the milk and stir well. Allow soup to continue simmering about 20 more minutes. It will thicken and reduce.
- In the remaining 1/4 cup of [cold] milk, whisk in the potato starch. Make sure the mixture is smooth, then pour into the soup while stirring. Cook approximately 10 more minutes to thicken into a hearty soup, remove the bay leaves and serve.
Recipe adapted from here.