Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Three Soups You'll Love

Broccoli and Potato Soup
My husband thinks I'm crazy for many reasons, but one of those reasons is that he cannot understand why I cook different types of food during different seasons. Meatloaf in the middle of the summer? I don't think so. Chicken salad in the cold month of January? Not for me.  Hot, steamy soups and stews during winter...now we're talking.  With the holidays approaching, so are those few extra pounds we vow not to add on. To make matters worse this year, the Thanksgiving feast will be practically back-to-back with Christmas cookies and huge family meals.  To help the waistline during those in-between weeks and the rest of winter, here are three of my favorite soups.  One is an old favorite of mine from a long-ago Cooking Light recipe.  The other comes from one of my new favorite blogs, Amuse-Your-Bouche. The final one is one of my own creations based on my kids' combined love of potatoes and broccoli.

Mediterranean Tomato and Lentil Soup
from Cooking Light 2004
I first had Mediterranean Tomato and Lentil Soup served to me by one of my college friends. We were both new moms and made a point to see each other once a week, each of us alternating a dish to serve.  Since then, it has been one of my all-time favorite recipes that I try to share with anyone looking for a delicious, healthy, and filling meal.  The lentils cook in a tomato broth along with carrots, celery, and a bay leaf.  It is finished off with fresh dill and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Top with either goat cheese or feta with a crusty bread and a nice rich bottle of Spanish red, and you will be looking forward to the cold weather like me. For the recipe, go to http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/tomato-lentil-soup-10000000592322/.

Veggie-Packed Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
from Amuse-Your-Bouche
My next favorite soup is a new one for us, but after the reaction I had when I made it for the first time last week, it will be a definite regular.  Veggie-Packed Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup comes from Becca John's blog Amuse-Your-Bouche.  There are many things to love about this soup.  The first is that it uses a slow cooker.  Every busy person knows the convenience and ease of the slow cooker. Finding meals that appeal to me using the slow cooker are few and far between, at least for me.  This particular soup now will go into that few and far between category. The second best part of this black bean soup are the veggies.  When I typically think of black bean soup, I think of the beans, onions, maybe a green pepper, and spices. This soup has carrots, peppers, spinach, and tomatoes.  The only thing I added to her recipe was cumin just because my son loves anything with cumin. The best part of the soup comes last: the toppings.  This is where you can have fun with it.  I sliced up avocado and fresh tomatoes. We crumbled up tortilla chips, added a dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkling of cheese.  I also added a little fresh cilantro and lime. Wow! Delicious. I'm getting hungry for some just writing this now. For the recipe, be sure to visit Becca's blog at: http://www.amuse-your-bouche.com/veggie-packed-slow-cooker-black-bean-soup/.

Broccoli and Potato Soup
And, finally, the last soup on the list is my own Broccoli and Cheddar Soup.  My son, Aidan, absolutely loves broccoli.  When he was a toddler he used to pitch a fit if I went by the broccoli in the produce section and didn't bring some home. My daughter, Madison, on the other hand, is a potato and cheese lover. The girl loves her starches. Pour cheese on it and she's a happy camper.  To please them both, I pulled their favorites together into a semi-healthy soup.  The danger, of course, is in the cheese. However, you can always adjust that to suit your needs and wants.

For a print-friendly version of this recipe, click https://sites.google.com/site/broccoliandpotatosoup/

1 lb. broccoli, chopped or one package of chopped broccoli in a microwaveable bag
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Scallions, sliced thinly
1 Parsnip, peeled and diced
1 Carrot, peeled and diced
2 Russet Potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 Tablespoons Flour
2 Tablespoons White wine
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups Chicken broth
1 cup Fat-Free Milk
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 Tablespoon freshly chopped parsley

1.  If using bagless broccoli, place the chopped pieces into a steamer basket and steam until the broccoli can be pierced with a fork but not soggy.  Set aside with lid off so that the broccoli doesn't continue to steam. If microwaving in those handy bags, follow the package directions and set aside.

2.  In a large saute pan, melt 2 T. of butter. Add the scallions and saute for 3 minutes on medium heat. The scallions should be soft and translucent.

3.  Add the parsnips and carrots to the saute pan and continue to saute for 3 more minutes.

4. Add the potatoes and mix with the other veggies.

5.  Sprinkle the mixture with 2 T. of flour and stir around for 1 minute.  Add 2 T. of white wine to the pan to loosen up the browned flour bits. Sprinkle mixture with thyme.

6.  Stir in 2 cups chicken broth and 1 cup milk.  Slowly let the entire mixture come to a boil and then cover with lid and turn the temperature down to low.  Let the soup simmer for 30 minutes. Check potatoes for doneness (not sure if that's a real word but you know what I mean).

7. In a blender, add half of the steamed broccoli and 1 cup of the soup mixture.  Puree the mixture.  Add back into the pot along with the remaining broccoli.  Add one cup of grated cheddar cheese and stir the mixture until cheese melts.

8. Top each bowl with grated cheddar cheese and freshly chopped parsley.