- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 cups chopped broccoli florets
- 1/3 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 1/3 cups)
- Croutons, for topping (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, half-and-half, both potatoes, bay leaf, 2 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, put the broccoli in a microwave-safe bowl; add 3 tablespoons water and season with salt. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes; drain.
- When the potatoes are tender, remove the bay leaf from the soup and transfer the soup to a blender. Puree until smooth, leaving the filler cap slightly open to let steam escape (or puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender). Return the soup to the pot and thin with water, if necessary. Return to a simmer over medium-low heat; stir in the broccoli and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the cheese and stir until melted. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with croutons, if desired.