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Another race that didn’t go well, another week off for recovery. The cycle of life that revolves around ultrarunning. Run, race, regroup, repeat.

And in the meantime, cook and eat, right?

You all know how I feel about soup, so while I putter around my house during my weeks off of intense training, I start my chicken broth. Chicken, water, onion, garlic, wonky carrots, celery, salt, pepper and thyme. Later in the day, I add the apple cider vinegar to get all the goodness out of the bones and transform the broth from, just a soup base, into a magic elixir. All day the pot gently bubbles away on the stove, doing most of my kitchen work for me, while I focus on things like laundry, bill paying and cleaning up whatever it was that spilled in my refrigerator (are there gnomes in there that knock over pickle jars and leftover Chinese Chicken Salad while we sleep?).

While scrubbing and tossing and folding, I think about what kind of soup I want to turn my broth into for dinner. I was kind of beaten up from the race for the first couple of weeks after, but more strangely, I am still in that bit of a funk you find yourself in after you’ve trained hard and then DNFd. The heatstroke/heat exhaustion I seemed to have suffered has left a kind of lingering heaviness in me, keeping me out of hot baths and hot showers (my usual sources of post-race comfort), so I’m having to find renewal in other things, like Dorito’s and doughnuts. Salt, sugar, fat.

And that is exactly what I’m craving in my soup. Normally, I shy away from creamy soups in the summer. This is Texas, y’all, and a big bowl of butter/cream/cheese love is not very, well… loving, in the middle of June. The air conditioner is already working full-time and I’m waiting until sunset just to take out the trash. Maybe it’s the heat exhaustion thing. I don’t know. But every time I step outside in the light of day, I feel like what I imagine Lestat, or Edward, or Dracula must have felt like: shimmery, melty, and possibly, about to go up in a puff of smoke. Hot sun and heavy soup should definitely be a “no”.

But today, while I’m carefully ensconsed in my 64 degree house, I feel like a creamy soup is exactly what is called for. I want comfort from the inside. Salt, sugar, fat, remember? And because Dorito’s and doughnuts don’t pass for dinner around here, I need to make something that has the same effect but doesn’t raise any eyebrows like I’m “trying to pull one over” on Tim (you serve one too many banana splits for dinner and suddenly your audience becomes suspicious).

The answer, I decide, is Broccoli Cheese Soup. Really, this is about as close to comfort food, while still masquerading as a vegetable, as you will ever find. And by using homemade broth, the protein content is pretty good. See? Protein, and vegetables = health food = totally not the same thing as a banana split.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup AP flour

1 cup whole milk, half-and-half or heavy cream

6 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade) – more if a thinner soup is desired


4 cups broccoli, chopped (cut off large stem, but use smaller stems)

2 bay leaves

sea or Kosher salt

black pepper

3 cups grated cheddar cheese


Melt the butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Soften onions, about 10 minutes. Add minced garlic and stir for 1 minute.



Add flour to make a roux, stirring constantly for 4 minutes until golden brown. Add salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the milk, half-and-half, or cream. Stir until smooth. You should have a thick-ish base.

roux cream

Add chicken broth and bay leaves. Bring to a low boil. Reduce to a simmer and leave uncovered for 10 minutes, allowing the mixture to thicken slightly.

Add the chopped broccoli. Simmer for another 20 minutes until tender.


Remove bay leaves and taste. Add more salt and pepper, if necessary.

with broccoli

With an immersion blender (or very, very carefully in a regular blender), puree soup mixture until desired consistency.

Add 2 1/2 cups cheese and allow to melt. Serve, garnishing each bowl with remaining cheese.







Tim: When are you going to start really training again.

Me: Never.

Tim: So, like, next week.

Me: No. I said never.

Tim: We both know that’s not true.

Me: One of these days it will be true. How do you know it isn’t true this time?

Tim: Because you still like to eat pizza for breakfast and need running on the treadmill as an excuse to watch Sweet Home Oklahoma.

Me: Having someone know the true me is seriously overrated.

Tim: Trust me, I figured that out when I watched you pluck your chin hair at a red light.


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