Day 184: Broccoli Cheese Soup and Upside-down Caramelized Onion Pan Bread


I don’t dislike broccoli. But still, I buy it because I feel like I should, and every time it sits in my fridge until it starts to turn yellow. Then I end up making broccoli soup or classy chicken (an old Best of Bridge casserole Mike and my Dad love composed of broccoli, chicken, mushroom soup, curry powder and grated cheese) in an attempt to not waste it. Tonight was one of those nights, so with this soup we kicked off “Clean-Out-the-Fridge-Before-Leaving-Town-Week”. I’m sure you celebrate this or a similar occasion at least once per summer.

I can’t hardly believe it’s already almost time to head to Tofino. (While our Hells Angels friends house-sit with their Rotweillers, of course.) Tomorrow is the CBC’s annual Stampede pancake breakfast; Friday is parade day. Where did July come from? So it’s time to stop grocery shopping and use up what we have, which always results in interesting/creative dinners.

Broccoli soup is easy: hack up the broccoli and simmer it (with a chopped onion, if you have the gumption) with some chicken or veg stock. The ratios don’t really matter – I used enough broth to come halfway up the pot of broccoli. Simmer/steam until the broccoli is very tender, then puree it with a hand-held immersion blender right in the pot, or transfer to a blender to puree. Add a handful of grated old cheddar and stir until it melts, and a splash of half and half, if you like – it’s amazing what even a quarter cup to finish (and this was a big head of broccoli and 1L stock) will do to the resulting texture. And that’s it. Before I added the cheese I set aside some of the broccoli puree to stir into spaghetti sauce for W, knowing that there would be no way in hell he would touch that green soup to his lips. It falls into both of his two main won’t-eat categories: green stuff and anything that resembles baby food (included in this category: yogurt and applesauce).

This pan bread is like a giant biscuit, except that the dough is easily stirred together using canola oil instead of cutting in any butter, making it more cakelike without being sweet like cake. I bake mine in my ever-present cast iron skillet; after caramelizing the onions, you can just scrape the batter over and bake it in the oven. If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet, you could do it almost as easily in a cake pan or pie plate. This caramelized onion version is fantastic with chili. It does the same duty as a focaccia in far less time, and no kneading.

Like any biscuit the dough takes additions well; fresh herbs would be good, or grated cheese, or chilies. To make a sweet (but not too sweet) version, caramelize sliced apples or pears in the pan, with or without a squirt of honey or maple syrup, and add a shake of cinnamon to the batter.


Upside-down Caramelized Onion Pan Bread

Recipe link


July 2, 2008


a drizzle of oil and perhaps a bit of butter

2 large onions, cut in half and thinly sliced

2 cups all-purpose flour, or half all-purpose, half whole wheat

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup milk

1/4 cup canola oil

1 large egg


1Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2In a large ovenproof skillet set over medium heat, melt the butter with the oil. Sauté the onions for about 15 minutes, until they are soft and golden. Spread the onions over the bottom of the pan and take it off the heat, or spread them into an 8" or 9" round cake pan or pie plate that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.

3In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the milk, oil, and egg. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just blended.

4Spread the batter over the onions and bake for 35-40 minutes, until pale golden around the edges, cracked on top, and springy to the touch.

5Cut into wedges or squares and serve warm.




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15 comments on “Day 184: Broccoli Cheese Soup and Upside-down Caramelized Onion Pan Bread

  1. Kenneth
    July 3, 2008 at 6:02 am

    A good idea for the broccoli soup is to rinse the broccoli good before using it. I’ve noticed it actually helps the flavor, I think it’s just from the chemicals that are used on them. It’s good practice to rinse all your vegetables anyways.

  2. Bonnie
    July 3, 2008 at 7:36 am

    We love to make a meal of homemade soup and bread. The caramalized onion pan bread looks really good — got it on the meal plan for next week. I just love it when you do my meal planning for me Julie! Thanks again for new ideas.

  3. Anonymous
    July 3, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    oh, we do the classy chicken too! but with cream of broc and cream of chicken.
    my 2.5 year old and I made your bagels the other afternoon. yum. gone by morning!

  4. angiebean
    July 4, 2008 at 8:15 am

    Soup looks great. I love Broccoli soup but could never find a low fat alternative. I am definitely going to try this!

  5. Sophie
    July 9, 2008 at 11:09 am

    We would like to feature this recipe on our blog. Please email sophiekiblogger@gmail.com if interested. Thanks :)


  6. Toni Jo
    July 25, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Julie, I have made the onion bread 3 times already. It has come out perfect every time. 35 minutes at 350 degrees, no more, no less. It does not last in my house!

    What we’ve been doing is baking them in a 9″ square pan, and then slicing them into six large pieces. We slice those in half (it holds together beautifully) and smear them with store-bought pesto, then top with roasted red peppers and provolone cheese.

    I have been known to tuck a piece away in my purse for a snack as well 😉

  7. brenda
    July 28, 2008 at 8:19 am

    OH my God!
    to die for delisious
    my daughter who is getting ready to leave for colledge asked me how i made the soup……
    the onion bread was so good with the soup and then again left over for breakfast with fried eggs and sausage
    thank you for the recipe

  8. Beverley
    July 13, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Thank you “one year ago” feature…. just stumbled onto this. It sounds fabulous. I think I will try it later this week!

  9. Sue (London, ON)
    July 18, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    I love your site, your recipes, and your wisdom!! I have a bunch of old broccoli and instead of throwing it out I came here and found this. So easy, so quick and I’m sure delicious! I added some cauliflower that has seen better days and an onion that was actually frozen in the veggie drawer of my fridge. I hate my fridge!! But love this site. thanks Julie!!

  10. sharon
    October 1, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    Hello? Anyone home?

    Julie I can taste bp and don’t like it. For this recipe and any others I wonder about a substitution with baking soda. I know if I use soured milk here I can use bsoda. But how much, and will it appreciably change the dough? Are there are deviations I should make?

  11. JulieVR
    October 1, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    Sharon – give it a try, and knock it down to 2 tsp. good luck!

  12. Florence
    March 13, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    This is so good! I tried this today (as part of a meal I’m preparing for a grieving friend) and the taste test confirmed that it is awesome. I’ll have to make it again for myself in the next few days. :-)

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