Melt the butter in a large pot and sauté the garlic and onion about five minutes. Add the potatoes, broccoli stems, chicken broth, water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat; simmer about ten minutes, or until the broccoli and potatoes are “crisp tender”; that is, tender but not mushy. Using an immersion blender, or in batches in a food processor, puree the soup to your preferred thickness. Stir in the broccoli florets, almonds, and half of the Parmesan cheese and simmer for five more minutes. Serve garnished with remaining Parmesan. Four servings.
If you're unfamiliar with cassoulet, it's kind of a cross between a stew and a casserole. It's a hearty French peasant dish made with white beans and some kind of fatty meat (often a combination of duck and sausage). I adapted this recipe from Real Simple. This humble version, which takes advantage of inexpensive winter root vegetables, carrot and parsnips, is an easier take on the more complicated all-day-long version. Still, it's quite satisfying. It's very flavorful, perfect for a cold winter's day, and preparing it will make you feel like Julia Child.
2 large sausage links, casings removed (I used Polish, but Italian would be fine, too)
3 cups prepared white beans, drained (about 1 and 1/2 cans)
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 medium parsnips, peeled and diced
1 red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup crushed tomato
1 tsp dried thyme
Dash of Cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup buttered breadcrumbs (I used sourdough, which I recommend)
In a Dutch oven or lidded, range-top safe casserole dish, brown the sausage over medium heat, breaking it up with a spoon. When the sausage is browned, drain off excess fat. Add all remaining ingredients except breadcrumbs to the pot. Stir well to combine. If needed, add more chicken stock and/or tomato to the pot to keep the vegetables moist. Simmer covered until the carrots and parsnips are tender, at least 30 minutes. While the pot is simmering, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. When the vegetables are tender, top with the butter breadcrumbs and bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are toasted. 4 servings.
As Julia Child would say, bon appetit!