feasting with friends

Michigan Monday: Broccoli Soup

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.broccoli soup|feastingwithfriends

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.

broccoli soup|feastingwithfriendsBesides 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.broccoli soup|feastingwithfriends

broccoli soup|feastingwithfriendsThey 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.

broccoli soup|feastingwithfriendsI’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!

Broccoli Soup

  • Servings: 6 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

broccoli soup|feastingwithfriends
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.


    • A big problem indeed…summer and soup just don’t go together! Time for you to dust off the grill. 🙂 Thanks to your season reminder though, my next post will be a summer friendly recipe I had awaiting publication. After all, somewhere in the world it is appropriate…thanks for the nudge!

  1. Lynn Marshall Kallus

    This former Michigan Girl LOVES Michigan Monday. What a wonderful way to stay close to my roots, even though I now live in Virginia. Olga’s broccoli soup is wonderful, though my Texas husband likes a little Ancho Chili Pepper mixed with his paprika. We had the soup for lunch just today. A keeper of a recipe. Thanks so much–Lynn

    • Yay! Happy you’re looking forward to this series, Lynn! Love the idea of spicing things up a bit with the Ancho Chili Pepper…Sounds like a yummy addition! If this coming winter is even half as bad as last, I’m sure this soup will be gracing our table many, many times in the coming months.

    • Thank you, Linda! Aside from the butter, this soup is pretty much guilt-free eating.Though, I do love to dip a hunk of fresh, crusty bread in a thick soup like this…I find it so satisfying! 😛

  2. What a great idea for a series of posts, Nancy! I look forward to reading them. I’m sure some will ring a bell. I don;t recall Olga’s Kitchens but I do like the sound of this soup. The lack of heavy cream is a big plus, for my tastes. This is the start of soup season for me and this is one that I’m sure to try. Thanks, Nancy. 🙂

    • Thanks, John…I hope I’ll be able to awaken a forgotten memory or two for you. 🙂 I also try to stay away from the heavy cream. The potato starch mixed with the low-fat milk thickened the soup beautifully and let the flavor of broccoli shine.

  3. As a fellow ‘Michigander’ I LOVE the idea of Michigan Mondays Nancy! Bring ’em on 😀

    Ahh yes, Olga’s! We have those here in Lansing. I haven’t been in a long time, but it’s still stuck around in the mall for as long as I’ve lived here (25 years).

    I love broccoli soup. Love, love, love it. Yours looks and sounds wonderful. Great post ❤

    • If I can get this series rolling along, Jess, maybe I could twist your arm (along with fellow Michiganders) to hop on board!?!? 🙂
      I love the thickness I achieved in this soup with the potato starch instead of heavy cream or cheese…much healthier and broccoli gets to be the star!

    • Their pita bread is definitely unique and memorable, Nancy! The soup is so easy to throw together and tasty too…a major plus with my schedule lately. 🙂

  4. Olga’s sounds like a lovely place to visit with a family, Nancy, and it does sound like there’s something for everyone. I enjoy a good broccoli soup and this one looks great! Love the idea of Michigan Mondays! I am not organized enough to do a series, but you’re inspiring me! Also, btw, this post did show up in my WP feed, though the last one did not. Perhaps the problem is fixed now? Keeping my fingers crossed.

    • Olga’s has good food, decent prices and quick service…all a major plus when kids are in tow. Even though my kids are grown, Glenn and I still enjoy a casual, quick meal there once in awhile.
      Happy to hear I’m showing up again…you weren’t the first to tell me that. Additionally, I realized I wasn’t receiving several blogger’s posts either. Seems to be hiccup season at WordPress. 😉

  5. Oh Nancy! We loved Olga when we were in Michigan! What a spread and delicious food for good price :). A perfect family place to eat out! I am saving your recipe to try :). The shout out Sunday was so inspiring from you earlier and that tells me to do the same to show my appreciation to the fellow bloggers :).
    Loved it!

  6. I love broccoli soup and as a matter of fact I was just thinking about what I should make next as I have been enjoying my lentil soup. Never had Olga’s soup – I always went for their fajitas and orange drink. I am surprised they do not add lots of cheese 🙂

    • Soup season hasn’t definitely arrived. I’m already thinking about the next one, too. 🙂
      Ahh..I forget about Olga’s Orange Cream Cooler! We always ordered the lemonade. I wouldn’t be surprised if the “real” version has cheese…yet, even without, we managed to get the flavors we were looking for.

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