Although broccoli can be found throughout the year, it is at its peak from October through April. The heads should have tightly clustered florets that are deep green, with no yellow spots. The stalks should be firm with unwilted leaves.
Definitely not a salad green, broccoli rabe needs cooking to round out its flavors. This rustic soup is an excellent way to do so. But before you add the greens to the pot, clean them thoroughly. After cutting broccoli rabe as indicated in the recipe below, place it in a large bowl of cold water and agitate it to loosen dirt. Lift the broccoli rabe from the bowl (leaving dirt and silt behind) and repeat if necessary.