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Yes, you heard me right!

I absolutely love soup. Even though I live in a place where it is at least in the 80’s, if not the 90’s most of the year, I can eat soup all of the time. Maybe it’s because I am cold natured and once the air conditioning hits below 75 I am chilled. I don’t know, but I am not going to complain because soup is an easy meal that can be made a million healthy ways. I love the fact that it is usually hearty, but it doesn’t have to be laden with fat, calories and sodium to be that way.

With that said, you are probably thinking that cream based soups are definitely out of the question then. Wrong! A fellow blogger of mine, Cara at Cara’s Cravings, is always coming up with healthy, yet delicious and satisfying meal ideas. She is amazing at thinking outside of the box. Well, a while back I found a recipe on her blog for a Creamy Asparagus Soup. The word’s “Amazingly Healthy” were also placed in front of the title. This was definitely something I was going to have to try!

So, you ask, how does she make this so called “creamy” soup creamy while still keeping it healthy? Don’t you dare snub your nose at this when I tell you!!! Cottage Cheese. Yes, I said cottage cheese. As we all know, this is something that you either like or you loathe. I am pretty sure most people loathe it because of it’s not so appealing texture. I mean it is instilled in us from a young age that chunks in dairy products aren’t usually a good sign, except of course with cottage cheese. Well, I assure you that this “creamy” soup will in fact be creamy and not chunky. The trick is pureeing the cottage cheese so it actually has a completely smooth texture and resembles a cream substance. I honestly thought this was genius and would have never thought to do it on my own. As Cara reminds us in her post, not only are you making a soup creamy without guilt, but you are also adding a good amount of protein and calcium to your dish.

So, Cara dared us to make this for our non-cottage cheese eating husbands, which I did. The first time I made this I made it exactly the way she did. Although my husband was a bit freaked out by the thought of the cottage cheese, he did admit that it was a great soup and that if he didn’t know, then he would not be able to tell there was cottage cheese in it. Well, I decided to make it again recently, but try it with different veggies. Instead of asparagus I included broccoli and cauliflower. It turned out just as fabulous as the asparagus version. So I send you off to go try the cottage cheese method and experiment with it a bit. I assure you, you will not be disappointed.

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Creamy Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup

adapted from Cara’s Cravings

1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
12 oz. of fresh broccoli/cauliflower mix (or 6 oz. of each)
freshly ground salt & pepper
1/4-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups chicken broth
6oz low fat cottage cheese
1/4 cup nonfat milk

Wash the broccoli and cauliflower, and chop into small pieces, about 1/4-1/2″. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 7 minutes, until softened and translucent. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add broccoli and cauliflower, salt & pepper, lemon juice and seasoning and stir to combine. Add chicken broth; this should be enough to just cover the vegetables in the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Blend together the cottage cheese and milk in a blender or in a separate container using an immersion blender, until completely smooth. Set aside.

Remove the soup from heat and process until smooth, either using an immersion blender or by transferring to a food processor or blender. Return to medium-low heat and gently stir in cottage cheese mixture. Bring to a boil, and cook for 1-2 minutes to let it fully thicken.

*Notes:

-Cara used Penzey’s Greek seasoning in her version instead of the spice blend. If you have the Greek seasoning, feel free to use 1 tsp. of that in place of the garlic powder, oregano and lemon juice that I used.

-I have used both a blender and an immersion blender, I recommend the immersion blender over the regular blender if you have the choice.

-Be sure to blend the cottage cheese until it is COMPLETELY smooth. If you don’t get it completely smooth, then you will have small chunks in your soup.

-You can also make this soup vegetarian by using vegetable stock/broth.

Yields 4 smaller servings

Approximate Nutrition Facts (according to Spark Recipe)
Serving Size: about 2 ladles full
Calories: 92.1
Total Fat: 2.6 g
Saturated Fat: 1.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.6 g
Cholesterol: 10.3 mg
Carbohydrates: 8.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.7 g
Protein: 9 g

*The sodium content is going to vary depending on the type of stock/broth that you use. I recommend using a low sodium version. I used a cottage cheese that had a 4% fat content, feel free to use something less.

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A little late, but worth it!

Passover has come and gone once again, but at least this year I was able to leave a lasting impression with dessert! I know this is a bit late, but better late then never….especially with this dessert! Passover desserts can be tricky and can become a bit redundant because there tends to be a few standbys that most people turn to. On top of that, no one really likes to bake in Greg’s family so I challenge myself to always make a wonderful dessert to bring, especially for Passover. The past couple of years I have just thrown together simple things last minute, but this year I really wanted to find a great recipe. All I can say is that Cooking Light has come through for me once again. I had been eying this beautiful lemon curd cake for a while and decided to finally make it sine it was Passover friendly.

This cake was AMAZING!! Everyone raved over it. Halfway through serving it Greg’s cousin started rationing the pieces and then horded the remaining bits for herself and practically licked the plate clean. It not only looked pretty but it was lemony and refreshing with a touch of cake. I will definitely make this recipe again and it will not be stored away for just Passover, as the matzo cake meal can easily be switched out with whole-wheat flour. It is perfect for any spring or summer gathering.

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Lemon-Almond Cake with Lemon Curd Filling

Courtesy of Cooking Light
Cooking spray
2 tsp. matzo cake meal (I ground up matzo meal)
4 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup matzo cake meal
1 1/2 tsp. water
1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup blanched almonds, ground
4 large egg whites
1 cup Lemon Curd (recipe follows)
2 cups fresh raspberries (I garnished with fresh strawberries)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Coat a 9-inch spring-form pan with cooking spray. Dust pan with 2 teaspoons matzo cake meal.
Place the egg yolks in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at high speed for 2 minutes. Gradually add 1 cup sugar, beating until thick and pale (about 1 minute). Add 1/4 cup matzo cake meal, 1 1/2 teaspoons water, 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind, fresh lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; beat just until blended. Fold in the almonds.

Place egg whites in a large bowl. Using clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites with a mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently stir one-fourth of egg whites into egg yolk mixture; gently fold in remaining egg whites. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until golden brown and set. Cool for 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Run a knife around edge of cake. Remove cake from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack. (Cake will sink in center as it cools.) Spread 1 cup Lemon Curd in center of cake, and top with raspberries (or whatever berries you prefer). Cut cake into wedges using a serrated knife. Serve immediately.

Lemon Curd

1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Place sugar and eggs in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended. Gradually beat in rind and juice. Spoon mixture into a heavy-duty saucepan over medium heat. Add butter to pan; cook 5 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly (do not boil). Spoon mixture into a bowl. Cover surface with plastic wrap. Chill thoroughly.

Yields: 8 servings

Nutrition Facts 
Serving size: 1/8 of cake
Calories: 238
Total Fat: 6.6 g
Cholesterol: 149 mg
Sodium: 123 mg
Carbohydrates: 41.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.7 g
Protein: 5.9 g
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Lemony Sunshine

Back in January we had Greg’s mom and grandparent’s over to celebrate his mom’s birthday as well as mine. The thing is, my mother-in-law and I share the same birthday, January 7th (Greg and my sister also share the same birthday-Oct. 12th). I know, it is strange. Anyway, since Greg took me out to dinner on my birthday, we wanted to do something for his mom the following weekend.

To our happiness, this “family” dinner with his side was also a success. Of course my main concern was the dessert. With the holidays just coming to a close, I was really tired of all the heavy desserts and was looking for something lighter, almost summery. When I found a Tyler Florence recipe for Lemon Pudding Cake with Fresh Mixed Berries, I knew that would be perfect. I also thought it would be fun to have individual servings of dessert, which this recipe was designed for, so it worked out great.

This recipe is so light and refreshing. I will definitely be making it again as spring and summer approach. It is a fairly easy dessert to put together but it really has the “wow” factor. It looks like you spent a lot more time than you actually did, but that can be your little secret. ;o)

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Lemon Pudding Cake with Fresh Mixed Berries

courtesy of Tyler Florence and Food Network
1 tbs. unsalted butter
2/3 cup superfine sugar
2 eggs, seperated
2/3 cup reduced fat buttermilk
2 tbs. lemon juice
1 tbs. lemon zest
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt

Garnish:
Feel free to switch out the berries with whatever kind you choose. I used strawberries and blueberries.
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh blackberries
2 tbs. confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and lightly sugar 4 ramekins (about 1-cup size).

In a mixer, add egg yolks, buttermilk, lemon juice and lemon zest and beat until well combined. Reduce the speed to low and sift in flour, sugar and salt. Continue to mix until combined. Beat egg whites until you get stiff peaks then combine the 2 mixtures by gently folding them together, a little at a time. Divide evenly amongst ramekins then bake in a water bath – set ramekins in a roasting tray and fill with water halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake for 60 minutes until the top springs back when gently pressed and the cakes have a nice golden brown color. Allow to cool slightly, then carefully invert onto a plate. Serve with fresh berries and dust with powdered sugar.

Yields 4 servings.

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