I just got back from spending a week with my mom in Montgomery Alabama, where she now lives with my cousin, Gwen. Mom’s death is not imminent, but since she is no longer seeking treatment to prolong her life, she is on hospice.
Like my late father, Mom has always enjoyed eating, with a wonderfully curvy shape to prove it. Ever since she started chemotherapy treatments nine years ago, her taste buds have been affected. So much of what she eats doesn’t taste good. When she dropped below a hundred pounds a few months ago, the doctor prescribed an appetite stimulant, which has helped.
While it made me sad watching her crawl back into bed every chance she got (she says, “The bed’s calling me.”), I delighted in watching her eat. We celebrated her eighty-ninth birthday with all of her favorites—shrimp cocktail, thick filet mignons with sautéed mushrooms, steam-sautéed asparagus, foil-wrapped potatoes and onions, and garlic toast—and Sharon baked her famous carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. When Mom ate all of her mushrooms and asparagus and then started forking leftovers from our plates, we cheered her on.
As I was getting Mom ready for bed that night she said she that if only I could stay with her she might get back to where she used to be. If I thought it were true, I’d move in.
When I got back home yesterday I had a sudden urge to cook. I baked cookies, set out a pitcher of tea bags and water for the sun. I made a pot of soup too—cream of broccoli, one of Mom’s new favorites.
I’ll be seeing Mom again in a few weeks. It’ll be late July and likely ninety-eight degrees and ninety percent humidity. But I don’t care. I’m making her a pot of Cream of Broccoli Soup with Parsley and Dill.
Cream of Broccoli Soup with Parsley and Dill
Makes about 2 quarts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, cut into small dice
2 medium carrots, cut into small dice
2 medium celery stalks, but into small dice
8 cups broccoli florets
1 quart chicken broth
1/4 cup packed parsley leaves
2 tablespoons packed dill leaves
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery; sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add broccoli and broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove about 2 cups of the broccoli florets and chop them into small pieces; set aside. Purée soup in a blender, adding parsley and dill, and making sure to vent blender by removing pop-out center and draping a kitchen towel over the top, until smooth. Return soup to pot, adding chopped broccoli.
Meanwhile heat butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; whisk in flour and then milk; simmer until thickened, just a few minutes. Stir in cheese until melted, and then whisk sauce into soup. Heat through and adjust seasonings, including salt and pepper to taste and the lemon juice. Serve.
It’s funny, I’ve always loved creamy soups whereas you tend to prefer chunky. I’ve got a few heads of broccoli in my fridge that are about to be made into soup. So grateful you were able to go down there and feed Granny.
Pam Anderson says
I think you’ll like this soup a lot, Maggy. It’s mostly smooth, but I took out a little of the cooked broccoli and chopped it up, so it’s a little chunky too. The evaporated milk makes it substantial. It’s not just just a light first-course soup-it’s lunch or dinner food! I’ll be interested to how you like it.
Sharon Damelio says
I secretly love broccoli and cheese soup and other creamy goodness, but I’ve always had them on my “no-no” list because of the fat and calories. It’s funny how we pick certain foods and tell ourselves we can’t eat them. French Fries? Sure. Apple Cider Doughnut? Occasionally. Cream of Broccoli Soup? Never! Our choices about what to avoid completely are often so random!
Being with Granny this weekend, and watching her eat like there was no tomorrow – literally – reminded me that life is always shorter than we think it’s going to be. So I should eat my Cream of Broccoli, and maybe go for a walk after lunch. In fact, I think I might make this with whole milk and a splash of half and half…instead of evaporated milk. Just because we’re livin’ it up…and I don’t really like evap 🙂
Pam, loved having you and Sharon last week. Can’t wait for you to come back. I gained two pounds while you were here, already lost one and a half so I am on my way. Sharon, that is the best carrot cake ever! Looking forward to the cream of broccoli soup.
Sandy Oldfield says
I love this — and YOU!
Janet Johnson says
Pam, your comments about your mother are very precious. I didn’t realize that she was in Montgomery. I last saw her when your dad died. “Miss Della” has always been a sweet and gracious Christian lady. How special and nice that she got to enjoy your wonderful cooking!
Carol at Wild Goose Tea says
You made me cry and miss my own Mom. I love broccoli soup. But whether I did or not, I pinned it in honor of your Mom. A small salute to a women who appreciate good food. Hugs!
mary ann says
mmmm. . .I’ll have to try this soup, when the temperature drops.
The way you speak of your mother. . .well, I hope my children speak that way about me.. .with such love.
Isn’t it such a beautiful thing to be with a person who is in the process of “exiting”? It certainly has a “feel” to it, just as being there when a person is born – a real “living in the moment” experience.
I bet your mother will eat a quart of that soup! Keep that up, and they’ll be sending her to Weight Watchers. 🙂
Pam Anderson says
Hey Mary Ann, Thanks for your comment. Very few of us make it to the end without gaining wisdom and self knowledge and so, yes, it is a privilege to be with someone nearing the end. As participant in the process you get a little of all the good stuff that ultimately prepares you for the end too.
Devon Talley says
Pam, I’ve been a follower of your books since the early 2000s when I saw you on PBS with “How To Cook Without A Book.” I use your recipes incessantly, I made a half batch of this broccoli soup and loved it. Being a devotee of my high-powered stick blender, I puréed the soup in the pot. I did reserve some whole florets to add in afterward. The end product would’ve been smoother if I had used my regular blender, but I like thick, chunky soups so this worked as a shortcut and I loved the flavor. I’m happy soup weather is approaching, I especially loved the cheese soup in your vegetarian book. Love your website and seeing what your daughters contribute, as well. Buen Provecho, Devon Talley