The Cottage Smallholder

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Skinflint soup recipe: broccoli stalk, last week’s courgettes and post Christmas Stilton combine and rule

skinflint soupI hate throwing out the thick broccoli (calibrese) stalks. The Penultimate Paramour used to chop them and use them in stir fries but they always tasted a bit rough and to be quite honest, stalky. They are tough miniature tree trunks and probably needed a bit more time than a quick whisk in a hot pan.

This morning I tottered downstairs. Before you could say “bacon sandwich” I was chopping an onion. I had an hour before leaving for work. The broccoli stalk was going to be the heart of a tasty soup. Poking about in the fridge I found some courgettes and remembered that a few years ago I’d made a wonderful courgette soup. So I chopped up 3 small ones and tossed them in too. We are not overly keen on courgettes but I had bought them for a wonderful veggie dish that I will posting soon.

I am testing out all the vegetable stock cubes that are available in darkest East Anglia. As the courgettes and b stalk soup combination could be disappointing, I used the deluxe Just Bouillon cubes to give the vegetables a fighting chance. I wanted a thickish soup but you could add a potato (skinned and sliced) during the simmering stage and another half pint of stock for a lighter, more economical soup.

Skinflint soup tasted pretty good before the adding the Christmas Stilton (a good mature cheddar would work equally well). The cheese gave the soup that extra vroom. Verdict – so tasty that we will never throw a broccoli stalk away again. This soup was a welcome blue sky change on a rainy day.

The ingredients made 3x400ml hearty servings.

Skinflint soup recipe


  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • I large stalk from a head of broccoli with three decent florets (florets are essential to give the specks of darker green at the end). Washed and chopped small. Florets sliced off and added towards the end.
  • 250g of courgettes, Washed and sliced
  • 800ml of vegetable stock (I used two Just Bouillon vegetable stock cubes)
  • 50-75g of elderly stilton (depending on taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Sweat the onions in a tbsp of olive gently for 15 minutes or so until they become soft and translucent.
  2. Meanwhile wash and chop your broccoli stalk into small pieces (0.5cm) and reserve the florets. Slice courgettes and prepare your stock.
  3. Add the stock and vegetables, bring to simmering point and simmer for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Add the florets (chopped) and simmer for three minutes or so until they are tender.
  4. Liquidise (I used my hand blender) and add the crumbled Stilton. Stir to dissolve. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

  Leave a reply


  1. Hi Magic Cochin, thanks for that information, I am going to try and find an oriental store locally, it sounds useful stuff, thanks again!

    and Fi, thanks for the link, it is so good to be able to examine the ingredients list at home (I always forget to take my specs to the supermarket). I used to make a good veg stock (and somehow have got out of the habit) using mushrooms, an onion, a couple of leeks, parsley, bay leaf, mustard and fenugreek seeds, salt, and a carrot, 3 pints or so of water, boiled for an hour then poured through a sieve. You can add some pearl barley too. I often make veg soups using just plain water – a splash of brandy livens them up though 😉 Thanks again for the info.

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Ah thanks Magic Cochin

    Our comments crossed in the ether.

    Thanks as well for the soup recipe. Sounds delicious. I must check out that shop when I’m next in Cambridge.

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Joanna

    We now make chicken stock (as tipped by you) and use it a lot but I find also find stock cubes so useful – they can pull round a flagging dish.

    In fact all the comments made me examine the ingredients on the packs of stock. The main ingredient for Marigold stock powder is salt!

    Thanks for the tip on Sticheldon – I must see if it’s available around here.

    Hi Magic Cochin

    I discovered that our beloved Marigold (normal not reduced salt) included palm oil. Tragic as I like this stuff. I also bought veg stock powder from Daily bread – it also has ˜vegetable oil™ “ could this be palm oil too? The Just Bouillon cubes contain vegetable fat – could this be palm oil?

    I love miso soup and often drink a pack at lunch time. Is this the ingredient that you add to soup. Like M I am agog!

    Hi Mildred

    All these comments have made me determined to make a really good vegetable stock. It must be possible. Do you have a good recipe?

    Hi Pat

    You and my mum should live together as she likes the stalks too!

    Hi Kate(uk)

    The skinflint soup was good cold too. Danny was very dubious about using the stalks but loved the soup!

    The problem is that I

  4. magic cochin

    Hi Fiona, Mildred & Kate

    link for quick guide to miso:

    The miso soup sachets are miso and dashi (= stock) ready mixed. Oriental stores usually have various flavours: bonito (fish), mushroom, seaweed.

    Try to get some real miso from an oriental store if you can. I usually use a Soybean miso – mid brown colour, not too salty. But there a masses of types worth experimenting with. The lovely lady who serves in the oriental supermarket in Mill Road Cambridge will give you advice Fiona!

    If you get the real thing (rather than the sachets) you can make a simple very nutritous soup by cooking very thin slices of mushroom and other veg (leek, carrot, broccoli) and a slice of ginger in boiling water. Use a little of your stock to add to a teaspoon of miso to make a thin paste and stir this into the soup. Serve immediately. For more sustance cook a few noodles in the stock (the Japanese buckwheat ones are good).

    🙂 Celia

  5. Kate(uk)

    Miso soup is nice- my daughter just loves it, the one from waitrose would make good stock, but not sure if it has msg or not. Excellent to have a good use for all those broccoli stalks- cook them properly and the tops are soggy, cook the tops properly and the stalks are solid- now I’ll just chop them apart and do soup AND veg!

  6. magic cochin, I was going to add miso to my shopping list but I am not sure what it is exactly! Waitrose stock it as a ‘soup mix’, is that the version to buy do you know? I would be very grateful for any advice.

    As long as it is free from the dreaded MSG! We both have an intolerance to it.

  7. Ohhhhh that sounds yummy and I never throw out broccoli stalks. They are my fav parts of the plant.

  8. We love broccoli soup, I use water unless I have some home made stock. Either way it is scrummy with the stilton!

  9. magic cochin

    Any soup described as “Stilton and …” would get Cliff’s attention!

    I’m just checked what sort of stock powder I have in the cupboard – Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon Reduced Salt. I’ve used Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon for a while, but not the reduced salt one. Just looked at the label and spotted Palm Oil – there’s a footnote to say it’s from “sustainable plantations”. I rarely use stock cubes/powder, they’re too salty for my taste, but I did put some of this in the gravy the other week and Cliff noticed I’d “done something different” to the gravy, “had I bought Bisto or something?”. No, he’d been spoilt because I usually only use the meat juices and water from the vegetable pans!

    Have you tried using miso? Sophie Grigson suggests using a teaspoon of miso stirred in at the end of cooking instead of a stock cube or salt to flavour casseroles or soup. A healthier option than stock cubes.


  10. Great name!

    I stopped using stock cubes after L’s heart attack … I started reading labels, and didn’t like what I found – if it wasn’t MSG or lots of salt, it was palm oil. Also unidentifiable chemicals. Elizabeth David says water’s just as good as anything, and I agree, although I like to use homemade chicken stock if possible, or vegetable water.

    I’ve got some courgettes and I’ve got some Sticheldon, which my butcher said was better than Stilton (he was right), and which I later discovered (really!) was THE trendy thing to have in the larder this Christmas. Not often I’m ahead of the fashion crowd 😉


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