The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

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.

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  1. Lorna Jordan

    On a slightly different note re stocks, why can’t we get chicken giblets any more, does anyone have any ideas on this?
    They were always the very best base for really tasty and strong stock, but no butchers or fish shops can tell me why they are no longer available. They must be going somewhere!!
    I don’t want to use man made stock either, but just using chicken pieces or bones, even in a pressure cooker, is not successful.

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Polly

    Thank you so much for a great tip! I have a fat broccoli stalk waiting to be turned into something appetising. I’ll test this out tomorrow night and dazzle Danny.

  3. Polly Bathe

    Whenever I am preparing broccoli for cooking I peel the stalks and cut them into elegant sticks and dip them in sea salt and eat them raw. Yum.

    You do have to peel them, as the outsides of the stalks are very tough. But the innards are just delicious.

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Rach

    I’m a big fan of soup too and it always hurt to throw the broc stalks away – it seemed such a waste.

  5. Thanks for this top recipe, I’m a BIG fan of soup but broccoli stalks usually go to the worms in my wormery. Never again!


  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Mildred

    Thank you so much for your vegetable stock recipe. I’m going to try this is the slow cooker and use Joanna’s tip of leaving the onion skins on to give the stock a decent colour!

    I’ve spotted that a lot of the soup mixes contain barley so I reckon that your suggestion is spot on as this must enhance the flavour.

    Brandy?!! Lunchtimes must be sparky at the Mittens Manufactury…

    Hello Clare

    Thanks so much for dropping by and adding to the stock discussion. I had no idea about MSG being a natural component.

    Thanks for the tip on OXO cubes. I assumed that the rest were better as OXO have been around for do long. How could I be so ageist

    I want orang-utans to survive happily.

    Hello Sara

    I tried them one last time and they worked!

  7. farmingfriends

    Hi Fiona,
    I have never used the stalk of the broccoli but will do from now on!
    Sara from farmingfriends

  8. Hi Clare, thank you for the info regarding msg . . . I remember now reading that it can be found naturally in celery salt! The Wikipedia page really sets out the details in full. Thanks!

  9. Incidentally, I don’t know a lot about what lurks in stock cubes, but since reading a good housekeeping review a few years ago I now use oxo cubes for all my stock needs. They’re lower in salt (I believe)than some available and unlike knorr ones do not seem to be very oily, but have a lovely flavour. Plus, it’s very satisfying crumbling them first!

    Glad to see that people are anti-palm oil. I don’t know why producers are using it so much in food these days, it’s bad for our health and disastrous for orang-utans too!

  10. Be a bit careful about fermented soy products and a glutamate intolerance. I’m not sure how the intolerance works, but certain glutamate salts are a completely natural component in various vegetable products, especially fermented soy beans (such as soy sauce, miso etc.) They will not show up as having “added MSG” because it is not artificially added, but rather naturally contains a very similar substance.

    This might help:

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