Say “Cheese” in Broccoli Cheese Soup with Smoked Chicken and Bacon

Broccoli Cheese Soup with Smoked Chicken and Bacon
Broccoli Cheese Soup with Smoked Chicken and Bacon

Taste this soup and it will put a smile on your face.  You won’t even have to say, “Cheese.” (PS.  take some advice from a photographer and never ask your subjects to say cheese…that’s where the term “cheesy smile” comes from.  So, just ask them to smile.) This soup has everything a comfort food soup should have:  cheese, bacon, smoked chicken, a little Tabasco and some vegetables, especially broccoli.  So, what more do you need in order to make it?

But before we get to the recipe and speaking of no cheesy smiles, I’ve been a bit busy with the photography side of my work the past couple of weeks with several weddings, my annual women’s retreat, and a couple of other photo shoots.  To say nothing of photographing the fall beauty in Lake Tahoe and in the El Dorado County area. Here are a few things I’ve been up to…

Apple Hill Scenery
Apple Hill Scenery
Apple Hill Delights
Apple Hill Delights

I’ve been doing a lot of photography in the Apple Hill area of Northern California. During apple season–September thru November–the place is alive with apples, vendors, tasty food, apple desserts of all kinds and, of course, tourists. By October and November, the leaves are changing into dazzling colors.

Fall in Apple Hill
Fall in Apple Hill
A little known California Wine Area
A little known California Wine Area

Of course, there is fall wine tasting…

Narrow Gate
Narrow Gate

Yes!Chef! and I know several of the winery owners and so we stopped by Narrow Gate Winery during the grape squeezing season and watched them make “juice”.  Yes!Chef! has done catering at this winery and a few others, so the owners are quite friendly with us.

And then there was the celebration of my daughter’s birthday and Yes!Chef!’s birthday which are approximately a week apart.  Yes!Chef! and I went on a fall picnic and did some wine tasting to celebrate his birthday.

Wine tasting with Yes!Chef!
Wine tasting with Yes!Chef!

And we had the whole family over to the house to celebrate the two birthdays.  Of course, we had birthday apple pie from Apple Hill for dessert. We also did our traditional “clappy” birthday, in which we clap “Happy Birthday” rather than sing it because nobody really likes to actually sing the song, but it’s amazing how many people recognize the song when everyone claps it.  (And yes, we have done this at restaurants before.  The restaurant gets very quiet while the people try to figure out what the heck we are doing. So fun.)

birthday boyAside from the large picture in the middle (above) of my daughter and Yes!Chef! blowing out candles, the rest of the photos are from local wineries.  We love to spend time picnicking, tasting wine and driving thru the beautiful country-side.

Apple Hill
Apple Hill

You can see more of my photography of this area on my Flickr account.

So, now that the season has turned a bit coolish, Yes!Chef! thinks about cozy, rustic, comfort food like Broccoli Cheese Soup.

Yes!Chef! derived his recipe from one he found in a magazine we subscribe to:  Cuisine at Home.  It s a wonderful magazine with no ads and lots of technique.

Broccoli Cheese Soup with Smoked Chicken and Bacon
Broccoli Cheese Soup with Smoked Chicken and Bacon

Here’s the recipe:

Broccoli Cheese Soup with Smoked Chicken and Bacon

  • 2 cups chopped, smoked chicken (skin removed and Y!C! prefers thighs, but you can use chicken breasts)
  • 6 cups broccoli florets and diced stems
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup minced onions
  • 1/2 cup minced carrot
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 pound American Cheese, shredded
  • 4 slices thick sliced applewood smoked bacon, cooked (Yes!Chef! prefers baking bacon rather than frying.)
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 Tb. hot sauce, like Tabasco Sauce (optional), or more to taste


  1. If you are going to smoke your chicken, rather than purchasing it already roasted and smoked, do that now.  Yes!Chef! butterflies his chicken and then cooks it on the barbecue with smoking wood chips. Let the chicken cool.  Remove the skin and chop it up.  Set aside
  2. Blanch the broccoli florets in a pot of boiling salted (so that it tastes like sea-water) water for about 3-4 minutes.  It will turn bright green.  Remove from pot and immediately immerse in a bowl of ice water.  Drain.
  3. Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onions, carrots and celery.  Cover the pot and let “sweat” for about 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in the flour and cook 1 minute.  Stir in broth, slowly.  Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Cook soup for 5 minutes and then reduce heat back to medium.
  5. Stir in chicken and let cook for 1 minute…just to heat the chicken.
  6. Add cheese and let stand for 1 minute.  Then stir just until incorporated.  Gently simmer soup for 4 minutes.  Watch that the soup does not boil or it will curdle.  Add the broccoli and bacon.  Cook for one more minute.  Add cayenne and Tabasco.  Season with salt to taste.

And there you have it!  It will make you smile!

She is Beautiful Project - Debbie
She is Beautiful Project – Debbie
She is Beautiful - Barb
She is Beautiful – Barb

(The above photos are part of my “She is Beautiful” project, in which I hope to provide beautiful photos to women who have not a beautiful photo taken of themselves in a long time.)

Published by

Karen Schmautz


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