The Single Spice That Will Upgrade Your Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Bowl of broccoli cheddar soup on wood
Bowl of broccoli cheddar soup on wood - nelea33/Shutterstock

There are few things as craveable as sharp, savory cheddar cheese, few things as comforting as a bowl of warm soup, and few things as nutritious as broccoli. Having all of these elements in a single serving? That's a superfood. So when dinner time rolls around and you're looking for a dish that can check all the boxes for just about everyone, broccoli cheddar soup is at the top of the list.

So much deliciousness is already packed into this dish -- the creamy, sharp cheese, earthy broccoli, aromatic garlic or onion, and the fragrant butter. That said, there's one more element that you absolutely don't want to leave out, and it may not even be on your radar when you're dreaming of your satisfying soup. That ingredient is nutmeg. In broccoli cheddar soup, this simple spice adds depth, warmth, and an almost tough-to-put-your-finger-on flavor, giving you an upgraded version you'll want to revisit no matter the season.

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Nutmeg's Savory Superpowers

Nutmeg, whole and ground, on surface
Nutmeg, whole and ground, on surface - Annmell_sun/Shutterstock

Nutmeg is often associated with a spice blend that calls to mind an entirely different category of foods. As an element in pumpkin spice combinations, many people consider it to be among the canon of sweet flavors. Nutmeg, however, is actually a classic ingredient in super savory French bechamel sauce. You'll also find it in macaroni and cheese, and in fettuccine Alfredo.

These dishes each have something in common with your broccoli cheddar soup: creamy cheesiness. Generally speaking, when it comes to soups, nutmeg also brings out a subtle warmth, and strikes a balance between sweet and spicy that deepens the already complex flavors of something like a broccoli cheddar soup. That said, you can also use nutmeg to season your veggies on their own, too.

If you don't have nutmeg on hand, you can opt for cinnamon, ginger, or mace as a substitute. You can season to taste, but a little goes a long way, so start with about a ¼ teaspoon nutmeg per poundof broccoli, and increase from there. You can use the pre-ground spice that you'll find in the store (just be sure it's as fresh as possible), or you can use a microplane to grate your own. If you opt for the latter, bear in mind that part of the beauty of the fresh stuff is its intensity, so it's best to start with less and taste as you go.

Suping Up Your Soup

Bowl of cheddar broccoli with breadcrumbs, bacon, chives
Bowl of cheddar broccoli with breadcrumbs, bacon, chives - Joshua Resnick/Shutterstock

Because nutmeg pairs well with a variety of flavors, you can take the opportunity to use it as inspiration for customizing your creamy, cheesy soup. A little lemon can really boost the flavor of nutmeg, so adding a bit of lemon zest as a garnish brings a zippy, bright contrast to your rich dish. Alliums also love nutmeg, so whether your recipe features garlic, onions, or both, you can also garnish with crispy fried onions for some complementary textural contrast. Chives are a lovely aromatic garnish, too, and work well with crumbled bacon (for added protein, of course), and toasted breadcrumbs, too.

Some additional flavor pairings for nutmeg that will make a nice addition to this soup include thyme, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes -- to bring a fiery kick. When diving into what nutmeg is, you'll find that it also shows up in many curry blends, so you can experiment with bringing in some of those spices, too. You can even work on layering nutmeg into the flavor of your soup. Go ahead and toast your grated nutmeg directly into your butter, browning it for extra depth. No matter what else you add to enhance your broccoli cheddar masterpiece, every bowl will be infinitely upgraded by this single spice.

Read the original article on Daily Meal