For this Foodie Friday, let's celebrate National Soup Month with a family favorite comfort food.  You can use up any cheese ends you have in the refrigerator. Just remember, this is a 'No-Whiz Zone.' I think you know what I mean!

Broccoli Cheese Soup (prep. time 15 minutes) (serves 4-6)

1 medium head of broccoli (roughly 2-3 C. florets and stems)

2 C. water

1C. vegetable stock

1 C. no fat milk

½ small onion, diced

1 clove garlic, diced

2 T. butter

1 T. corn starch (if gluten-free) or flour

salt/ pepper

1/8 tsp. each ginger & nutmeg

2 C. shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 C. mild white cheddar

1 C. grated gruyere, Swiss or any other end pieces of cheese you want to use. I even used an end piece of a Butterkase, a really buttery, semi-soft cheese from Germany. Keep in mind the sharpness and other flavor properties of your favorite cheeses when deciding whether or not to grate them up and toss them in the pot.

Bring water to a simmer in a medium sauce pan with a steamer basket, if you have one. No harm if you cook the broccoli directly in the water, though since the flavorful water is part of the soup stock.  Steam florets and uniform size chunks of stem until the broccoli is just fork tender.  Remove broccoli from the water and set aside to cool.  Pour broccoli water into a bowl and set aside, so you can use the same sauce pan.  Melt the butter over medium/high heat and sauté the onions until almost translucent.  Add the garlic and cook until garlic is tender but not brown. Whisk in the cornstarch or flour to thicken. Pour the hot broccoli water into the pot and stir while bringing to a simmer.  Stir in vegetable stock, salt, pepper, ginger and nutmeg.  Stir in the skim milk and warm over medium/low heat (do not boil).  Chop the broccoli and some of the stems into bite-sized pieces, discarding larger stem ends that still may be tough.

Into the hot liquid, stir in the cheeses, about 1 cup at a time until melted. Taste to adjust salt, seasonings or amount of cheese.  Once you’re happy with the flavor, stir the broccoli in and keep stirring over medium/low heat until the broccoli is re-warmed.  Serve with croutons or crusty bread.

You can keep the soup warm in a small slow-cooker or even a fondue pot, just be careful not to scorch the cheese in the bottom of the pot.

You can adjust the thickness of the soup by the amount of cheese you melt into it.  Adding some grated parmesan is a good thickener that adds another sharp bite.

Have fun customizing this soup with your own special blend of cheeses.