Ask Chef Phyllis:
Our life has changed ever since we found out that our daughter is gluten intolerant. We buy rice pasta and gluten-free flours, and we read every label in the supermarket. It makes me tired because I feel our favorite recipes all have to be redone. Some of our favorite soups are broccoli cheese soup and similar cream soups, such as asparagus, cauliflower, and cream of potato, but they all contain flour to thicken them. Are there other ways to thicken soups without using cornstarch or flour?
—Doreen Griffith from Spokane WA.
You’re right—this news has changed your life. It’s tiring to relearn how to feed your family and change all of your recipes. While so much information about gluten sensitivity is now available, most of it doesn’t address some of the underlying causes of the issue. To learn more, try reading “Gluten Is Not the Demon in Your Gut,” by Stephanie Selene Anderson. But for now, let’s change some of your favorite family recipes. The good news is that broccoli cheese soup and similar cream-based options can easily be made gluten free. The following recipe will work for asparagus, cauliflower, and potato soups, but try the broccoli cheese first. It’s delicious, easy, and only takes about 20–25 minutes to complete, including prep time. Quinoa flakes gives it the creaminess and consistency that flour usually provides, but you can try other thickeners as well, like arrowroot flour and agar agar flakes. Just keep in mind that they all work differently than flour. Arrowroot thickens as it cools and should be dissolved in liquid before adding to the big pot of soup, while quinoa and agar agar flakes expand in the liquid as soon as they are added.
Broccoli Cheese Soup
This is a great first course for a luncheon service. Served with a half sandwich and carrot salad (see recipe below), it also makes a light school-night supper.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 medium onions, finely diced
- 2 ribs celery, finely diced
- 1 potato, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 4 cups whole milk, or more for desired consistency
- 1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon summer savory
- ½ teaspoon celery seeds
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup organic quinoa flakes (I used Ancient Harvest, available online and in health food stores)
- Heat olive oil and butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat until butter is melted.
- Add onions, celery, and potato, then add garlic if desired. Cook until the vegetables are transparent, about 5 minutes.
- Add broccoli to the pan. Sauté for another 5 minutes, stirring until the broccoli is well coated but still crunchy. Add milk and stir well. Next, add salt, black pepper, nutmeg, summer savory, and celery seeds.
- Remove pan from heat. Add cheddar and Parmesan. Stir well. Check seasonings and adjust for taste. Add quinoa flakes all at once, stirring well. Serve immediately
This is a light summer salad enjoyed by both children and adults like. It also travels well for picnics.
- 2 large organic carrots, peeled and grated (about 2 cups)
- ½ cup shredded green or Savoy cabbage
- ⅓cup raisins
- ½ cup chopped almonds or walnuts
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon each salt and black pepper
- 4 tablespoons honey
- ⅓cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoon organic rice vinegar
- In a medium bowl, combine carrots, shredded cabbage, raisins, nuts, ginger, salt, and pepper. Mix all ingredients well.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, olive oil, and rice vinegar. Pour over the salad, mixing well. Refrigerate in a covered bowl. Stir ingredients again before serving.
To choose your organically grown and fresh ingredients wisely, use the following criteria:
- chemical- and hormone-free meat
- wild-caught fish
- pasture-raised, organic eggs
- whole, unrefined grains
- virgin, unrefined, first-press organic oils
- whole-food, unrefined sweeteners
- pure, clean, spring water
- sea salt
- raw and/or cultured milk and cream products