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Posts Tagged ‘Soup’

I’m baaa-aaack!

It’s been quite a while, I’m sorry. This summer just got away from us – and we didn’t even go to the beach this year! We have been so incredibly busy lately, and one of the downsides of being busy is a) I don’t cook and b) We don’t eat as healthy. I decided I’d had it, and started flipping through the latest issue of Food Network Magazine. It’s hard when it only comes every other month, but I read in this issue that it will be coming more often, yay!

The October issue (Vol. 2, Number 4) has more than 120 recipes in it, so I’m sure it will give me lots of ideas. One feature was “50 Easy Soups.” As the weather starts to cool down, I naturally crave something warm. Last week I tried Escarole & White Bean Soup. It was super easy. I’ve never tried escarole before, but it cooks similar to spinach and has a a slightly bitter flavor. The recipe suggested adding sausage, but I tried turkey kielbasa for a healthier kick. I was cooking late, so by the time it was ready I was too exhausted (and hungry) to get the Nikon to snap a photo. You’ll have to be content with this one from my phone instead!

  • 3 garlic cloves, choppe
  • Dash red pepper flakes
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 head escarole, chopped
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 package turkey kielbasa, diced

Cook garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, and turkey kielbasa in olive oil. Add chicken broth, escarole, and a parmesan rind (I didn’t have one); simmer 15 minutes. Add white beans, parmesan, and salt (be careful, only use a small amount or it will be too salty). Makes 4 servings.

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I get tired of using the same vegetables over and over again in dishes – peas, green beans, corn – they taste great, but I need a little variety in my life! Enter two new vegetables that are quickly making their way to the top of my list: fennel and leeks. I was very intimidated the first time I purchased them at the store, not knowing how to cut, clean, or prepare them – but they were ingredients in two dishes I wanted to make so I plunged in headfirst!

First up – fennel. I shouldn’t be surprised that I love this vegetable, considering it contains many of the same flavorings as anise, which is behind the black licorice jelly beans I covet every Easter! Fennel comes in bulbs (often two that are connected) with large, feathery, leafy fronds emerging from the top of the bulbs. I have never eaten the leaves, although they are edible; the white bulbs have a less pungent flavor that does not overtake a dish. Rachael Ray has two dishes that made me fall in love with fennel: Grilled Skirt Steak and Orzo With the Works (p. 252, 365: No Repeats) and My Friend Frank’s Favorite Chicken (p. 138, 30-Minute Meals). She also has a Fennel, Sausage, and Potato Stoup recipe on her Every Day With Rachael Ray site that I’m dying to try!

Next up – leeks. I always thought of leeks as a vegetable your mom would force you to eat (even though I am part of the minority crowd that enjoys brussels sprouts). Their light, oniony flavor is actually refreshing – if you can get past the time-consuming cleaning process (soaking in water until the grit has washed away). Rachael Ray’s refreshing, light Shrimp Primavera With Asparagus, Peas, and Leeks (p. 46, 2-4-6-8 Great Meals) is a great summer supper. I cooked it for 12 people during our beach vacation – serve it up with a side salad and some white wine, and it’s delicious!

In doing research for this post I came across this recipe for Red-Pepper Fennel Soup With Pita Chips, which includes both fennel AND leeks! The best of both worlds 🙂

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I realized tonight that it’s the second time in a week that I’ve made a soup that was featured on one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes ever, The Soup Nazi. Last week I tried Rachael Ray’s version of Jambalaya (“Jambalika,” p. 158, 30-Minute Meals) – who can forget Newman sniffing his soup and running down the street yelling “Jambalaya!” Tonight I tried Mulligatawny, a spiced Indian soup that was Kramer’s favorite on this episode. I served up a side of Indian flatbread (called “Naan”) to cut down on the spice.

This was a Weight Watchers recipe (from the same cookbook I mentioned in my post on Baked French Toast) and there was nothing but healthy, fresh ingredients in the dish – it was fantastic! My only complaint was that it didn’t make a lot of food, so supplementing the soup with some salad and bread will fill you up. Jared and I had a nice glass of Malbec with dinner – the richness of the red wine cut down on the spiciness of the soup. (Note – I’m not crazy about really spicy foods, but the Mulligatawny had just enough to make you feel it, but not enough that it takes away from the overall dish.)

  • 4 tsp. reduced-calorie margarine
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 carrot, chopped (I used a handful of baby carrots instead)
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tart apple, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/8 tsp. ground mace or nutmeg
  • 1 whole clove
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken breast (I used one can of cooked chicken breast from Costco)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

In a medium nonstick saucepan, melt the margarine. Saute the onion, carrot, celery, bell pepper, and apple until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, curry, mace/nutmeg, and clove; cook, stirring one minute; gradually stir in the broth. Add the tomato and lemon juice; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Add the chicken and salt; heat to serving temperature. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional Facts (per serving): 187 calories, 7g fat, 15g protein. 4 Weight Watchers points.

I served this Weight Watchers recipe for Naan with the soup. It was great, but I recommend two things that I learned:  1) Make the dough the night before and refridgerate until you are ready to bake, and 2) Make sure you watch the bread as it bakes. I left it in for the recommended 10-12 minutes, but it browned a little too much for my liking. In the future, I plan to take it out after about 9-10 minutes (after the bread has started to “puff up”) to keep it softer.

  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda

In a small bowl, beat the milk and egg. In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda. With the machine running, pour the milk through the feed tube until the dough forms a ball. Knead the dough by pulsing until it is smooth, almost 30 times.

Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray; place the dough in the bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towl and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place three hours.

Place a large baking sheet on the center oven rack; preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly sprinkle a work surface with flour; turn out the dough. Divide the dough into eight pieces; flatten each into a 3/8″ thick teardrop shape. Transfer the teardrops to the baking sheet. Bake until firm; 10-12 minutes. If you like, run briefly under a broiler to brown the tops lightly. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Nutritional Facts (per serving): 122 calories, 1g fat, 4g protein. 2 Weight Watchers points.

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I had the privilege of attending the Disney Institute this past April for Leadership Excellence training. It was a three-day course focusing on leadership and vision in the workplace, and if you ever have the chance to take this, I highly recommend it.

One of the perks of the training was the food! Each day we had a gourmet breakfast and lunch prepared for us by the chefs at the Contemporary Resort. The second day, they served Fire Roasted Tomato & Tortilla Bisque for lunch (topped with homemade jalapeno cornbread cubes – wow!). My fellow classmates and I raved about the dish so much, our instructors brought in the chef who made it, who in turn gave us all copies of the recipe! I’ve made this several times, and it’s delicious. If you want a lighter version, substitute fat-free half-and-half for the cream. Serve it with a light salad and cornbread, and you’ve got yourself a meal!

  • 4 oz. onion
  • 2 oz. celery
  • 2 oz. carrots
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 24 oz. canned diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 1/4 bunch parsley
  • 1/4 bunch oregano
  • 1/4 bunch basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 corn tortillas, chopped
  • 4 oz. canned green chiles
  • 2 tbs. cumin
  • 1 tbs. paprika
  • 1 tbs. chili powder
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 pint heavy cream, heated

Saute onion, celery, carrots, and garlic in a large pot for five minutes, or until the onions turn translucent. Add tomatoes, herbs, corn tortillas, chiles, and spices to pot and bring to a simmer for 15 minutes. Puree with a burr mixer or place in a blender on high, until smooth. Finish with the heated heavy cream and adjust seasons to taste. Yields 1/2 gallon. (Trust me, it will all disappear!)

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