Wednesday, March 7, 2012

One Pot Broccoli and Cheddar Soup

Another great recipe for the RV kitchen

Edna's Staebler was one of Canada's most loved cookbook authors. She lived at Sunfish Lake, just outside Waterloo, Ontario. In the heart of Mennonite country. Her cookbook, Food that Really Schmecks, included a recipe, Rigglevake cookies, which she received from an Old Order Mennonite friend. This recipe produced cookies that were both crisp and chewy, and very similar in nature to a product Proctor and Gamble was producing and had patented in the late 1970s, early 1980s.

However, under copyright law, a recipe that has been published is considered to be in the public domain, and therefore cannot be used as the basis for a patent. Competitor, Nabisco, wanted to produce a similar cookie, and if they could prove that the recipe described in Food That Really Schmecks was the basis for Proctor and Gamble's cookie recipe, they could then argue that the patent should not have been granted, and that Nabisco was therefore not infringing on the copyright by producing such a cookie. 

As a result corporate lawyers from both sides started visiting Edna (who considered herself a simple food writer and country woman) and her Old Order Mennonite friends to persuade them to take their side of the story. Bribes of trips, food, etc. etc. were offered. A lot was at stake – Proctor and Gamble’s exclusivity to produce the cookie vs. Nabisco’s right to produce a similar cookie. 

Word of this kerfuffle spread and when writer June Callwood dubbed the whole affair “The Cookies Wars” in a Globe and Mail article a legend was born. You can read more details here.

The reason I am telling you this story is that I have no idea the source of this recipe for Broccoli and Cheddar Soup. I did not create it so it must be published somewhere in the public domain or I wouldn’t have it – right? So I am safe to publish it here without credit. 
Broccoli and Cheddar Soup
2T Olive Oil
1 ½ C thinly sliced onion
1T minced garlic
1t salt
¼ t cayenne pepper
5 C chicken or vegetable stock
4 C coarsely chopped broccoli
1 ½ C shredded sharp cheddar – the better the cheese, the better the soup
-Heat olive oil, add onion, garlic, salt and cayenne pepper. Saute over medium heat. until onions are tender. Be careful not to overcook the garlic – it will turn bitter.
-Add stock and bring to a boil. Add broccoli. Cover and cook over gentle heat until broccoli is tender. About 5 minutes. 
-Blend in the pot with the immersion blender, Stir in shredded cheddar and serve. 

Makes 4 servings. Freezes well. It is also excellent made with gruyere cheese.


  1. mmmm.
    The only thing copyright protected on recipes is the wording. So rewrite the directions in your own style and all is well. There are so many recipes out there with identical ingredients it is impossible to protect them.

    1. Interesting. Thanks for the info Shelagh.


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