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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bowled Over - Secrets to a Skinny Soup

I have been known to subsist solely on soup and yogurt for days on end during the cold months. If I'm completely up front, this has also occurred during the hottest of months as well. What am I to say other than that I love it?
masterpiece in the making
And, who doesn't love it? Whether it's your mother's chicken noodle with a case of the sniffles, your father's tomato soup and grilled cheese on the coldest of nights, or your grandmother's matzoh ball soup every Passover season, soup has an incredibly strong tie to memory.

I'm happy to say that both soups below will not only be added to your repertoire for easy, memorable meals but that they won't damage your waist-line in the meantime.

THIS is Ellie Krieger's (aka The Food Network's go-to guilt-free chef du jour) Tuscan Vegetable Soup.
I love anything categorized as 'healthy' that lets me eat cheese

Recipe Ease: What would you call a recipe that takes 10 minutes to have in the pot from the moment you stepped foot in the kitchen? I would call it THIS but you may also call it easy.

Yumminess: Let's be clear, you're not going to bite into this and call it decadent because it's not. You will take your first spoonful, shrug up your shoulders, close your eyes and smile. Because, what THIS is, is a refreshing, multidimensional flavor meal. Looking for added flavor? Allow me to suggest a teaspoon of wasabi powder, a tablespoon of lemon juice, or a couple splashes of cinnamon. Add all your favorite veggies (or in my case, all the veggies with less than 24 hours til the wilting gods arrive). It's not plain, it's versatile...a blank canvas.

Health Benefits: THIS is loaded with vitamins from all the vegetables you add, protein from the beans and chicken stock, and low in sodium assuming you select low-sodium broth. Calorically, for a whole cup and a half, you're only 150 calories in. While it does provide a serving of protein, eight grams is typically considered the minimum in a serving. That said, the extra fiber from all the veggies are sure to fill you up as well.

$$$: I had every ingredient in my fridge, but even if you don't, you needn't have deep pockets for this recipe.

Best in Show-worthy: According to everyone but me (I really do hate this whole losing thing), THIS is our winner this week. Bravo Ellie.

THAT is Bon Appetit's French Lentil Soup, a lentil recipe sans curry, a rarity in this legume's world.
That is balsamic vinegar, not squid's ink. Don't worry. 

Recipe Ease: While THAT doesn't require a culinary degree, it does involve a few more steps, one of which is a blender. WARNING: do not put soup-er hot soup in the blender. It will explode. You're welcome. 

Yumminess: THAT definitely has a more sophisticated flavor. It's perfect for nights alone, with family, or even as a piece in your dinner party. THAT is thicker than THIS as well.

Health Benefits: THAT comes chock full of vitamins from the vegetables. The lentils perform double duty, adding fiber and a full 11 grams of protein. You'll find THAT to be more filling for less quantity than THIS for only a measly 35 calories extra in one cup.

$$$: THAT requires a little extra effort as you may find yourself, like me, lacking in lentils of the kermit variety. Additionally, we're dealing with more ingredients than THIS which does add to the final bill.

Best in Show-worthy: It's beautiful and entirely filling all on it's own, but alas, as I mentioned previously, THAT just doesn't quite take the cake.

Given that it's cold, and I've had soup every day this week, I thought I'd take the opportunity to introduce you to a very dear friend of mine who has warmed me on the coldest nights, kept me busy at my most bored, and even gone so far as to feed friends and family.
Please meet the most glorious tomato soup of all time (bold claim, I know)
I've really never had better in ANOTHER. It's spicy, creamy (in a lactose-free way), and wraps you up in that warm "forget about your bad day and the wretched weather and eat me" way.

2 tbspns margarine or a quick spray of butter
1 chopped onion
2 chopped carrots
2 chopped celery stalks
3-4 cloves minced garlic
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 28-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
3 cups vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 tspn tabasco
1 tspn red pepper flakes
a dash of salt and pepper, respectively

To do
In a large soup pot, melt the butter and cook veggies and garlic for around 4 minutes.

Add all other ingredients, stir, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes covered. Remove bay leaf.

Either let cool and put in blender until smooth by 1/2 cups, or, (the much easier and more fun method) use an immersion blender until it's smooth. I personally like a few chunks of celery or carrots. It's like finding treasure. (Please note that I was the child that squealed over veggies)

To enjoy, either eat as is, add parmesan, or slices of avocado.

My favorite is to add a dollop of greek yogurt.

Stay warm this week wherever you are, unless you're in a warm environment, in which case, I really don't care to hear from you.


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