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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.

Brocc Soup OS 3 cropped

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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Black-Bean Soup with a Kick

If my husband had his way, he would eat a vegetable (preferably broccoli) and a starch with his dinner every night. Don’t get me wrong, he is not a picky meat and potatoes kind of guy, but he would still be completely content with the simplicity of those side dishes on a daily basis. Me on the other hand, would probably give up eating altogether before I would eat the same stark meals day after day. So I am always on a mission to find new, but healthy side dishes to compliment our meals. I mean let’s face it, we could all eat mac n’ cheese, loaded potatoes and every other calorie laden side dish every day of the week if our waistlines and arteries would let us, but that is not realistic. At least it isn’t in my world. So that leads us back to finding the healthy, but tasty and satisfying variety of dishes.

After plastering the title of boring eater to my husband, I will now give him some credit because he is the one who suggested black bean soup over our fairly regular black beans the other night. Although I was the one who raced up the stairs in hopes of beating him to a great recipe. See, he will look for a recipe and then try to change it in every way possible in order to not follow the recipe. In many cases this leads to a fabulous dish (b/c he is a great cook), but in other cases he turns into the spice monster and tends to “over flavor” the dish. So I raced to my computer and immediately went to Epicurious.com, which is my new favorite recipe source. One of the first recipes I pulled up was one from the December 2008 issue of Gourmet magazine. I thought it was going to be something a little too obscure for our simple dinner, but surprisingly it was a simple yet delicious sounding concoction. I passed it along to the anti-recipe guy, since I was going to put him in charge of making it, and to my surprise he said it sounded great! No only that, but he made the recipe without altering it beyond recognition. Of course we did change it up a tiny bit, but for the most part it was great the way it was.

So we now have a new side dish to add to our repertoire and my husband actually followed a recipe without completely changing every element. Don’t get me wrong though, I may like to give my hubby a hard time, but he is an amazing cook and I love him dearly.

BB soup 1-cropped

BB soup 2-cropped

Spicy Black-Bean Soup

adapted from Gourment 12/08 via Epicurious.com

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 fresh jalapeño (2 inches), seeded and minced
1 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 (15-ounces) cans black beans, 1 drained and rinsed, 1 with liquid (we use low sodium)
2 1/2 cups chicken stock/broth (use 2 cups if you prefer it thicker)
1 bay leaf
Green Onion, chopped for garnish

*Use vegetable stock to make this dish vegetarian.

Heat oil in a 4-to 5-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat, then sauté onion, garlic, and jalapeño with chili powder, cumin, and oregano until onion is beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add beans, stock/broth, and bay leaf and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until soup has thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.

Transfer about 1 cup soup to a blender and purée (use caution when blending hot liquids). Return to pot and reheat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Discard bay leaf. Season with salt if desired. Add green onion for garnish.

Yields 4-6 servings

Approximate Nutrition Facts (according to Spark Recipe)
Calories: 229.7
Total Fat: 3.9 g
Saturated Fat: .09 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.9 g
Cholesterol: 3.1 mg
Carbohydrates: 44.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 11.6 g
Protein: 13.6 g

*Please note that these are very approximate nutrition facts since one can of beans was rinsed from it’s liquid. This is also why I left the sodium out b/c it was not going to be accurate at all.  These facts were also based on the amounts for 4 servings.

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Summery Soup

When it comes to dinner, sometimes I’m just not in the mood for meat, veggies and a starch; I want something different. So, while thumbing through my Ellie Krieger cookbook I came across a recipe for Summer Corn and Vegetable Soup and knew that would be a great change-up. It called for lots of my favorite vegetables and it was more of a chowder style so I knew it would be hearty.

I whipped a batch up one night and served it with a half of a sandwich. It was so filling! I couldn’t even finish my bowl. Greg was even satisfied by this “lighter” meal. It is jam packed with fresh and easy to find ingredients and is a cinch to make. What more could you ask for?

corn-chowder

Summer Corn and Vegetable Soup

Courtesy of The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger

4 cups fresh corn kernels or two 10 oz. packages frozen corn, thawed
2 cups non-fat milk
1 tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 cup)
1 small zucchini (about ½ lb.), diced
2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
¾ tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons

Put 2 cups of the corn and the milk into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and zucchini and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cups corn and the broth and bring to a boil. Add the pureed corn and the tomatoes and cook until warmed through but not boiling. Add the salt and season with pepper. Serve garnished with the basil ribbons.

Yields: 6 servings

Nutrition Facts (according to book)
Serving size: 1 ½ cups
Calories: 180
Total Fat: 5 g
Cholesterol: 5 mg
Sodium: 365 mg
Carbohydrates: 32 g
Dietary Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 9.5 g

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Chicken and Dumpling Yumminess

I want to begin by saying that the October issue of Cooking Light was a real winner. There were tons of great recipes!

On that note, while browsing through my magazine, I found a recipe for Herbed Chicken and Dumplings. The dish was very easy to make and tasted great. Greg and I both loved it and and were completely satisfied from it. It doesn’t seem like a lot when you cook it, but it is actually very filling. I highly recommend this dish to anyone (up north) suffering with the winter blues.

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Herbed Chicken and Dumplings

courtesy of Cooking Light, October 2008
cooking spray
8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces (I used chicken breast)
3/4 cup (1/4 in) diagonally cut celery
1/2 cup (1/4 in) diagonally cut carrot
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/8 tsp. dried thyme
3 parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2.25 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/2 cup)
1 tbs. chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup 1% low-fat milk (I used skim)

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coast pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes, browning all sides. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Add celery and next 5 ingredients (through bay leaf) to pan; saute 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Return chicken to pan; cook 1 minute. Add broth to pan; bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with knife. Combine flour, chopped parsley, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add milk, stirring just until moist. Spoon by heaping teaspoonfuls into broth mixture; cover and simmer 10 minutes or until dumplings are done. Discard parsley sprigs and bay leaf.

Yields 2 servings. Serving Size: 2 cups

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A California Treat

My husband was on a business trip in San Diego recently and fell in love with Wahoo’s fish tacos. He ate there two or three times in the 5 days he was there. Not long after that I was flipping through my Ellie Krieger cookbook (The Things You Crave) and came across a recipe for fish tacos which reminded me of his experience in California. So, we decided to bring a bit of Cali back to Florida and make our own fish tacos. It is always nice to find new ways of incorporating fish into our meals and this was definitely a winner. We agreed on grilled snapper for the tacos with the chipotle cream from Elllie Krieger’s version and a side of black bean soup. I would like to mention that Greg cooked the fish and created the black bean soup. He is a very good cook and contributes to our meals just as much as I do so this won’t be the last time I mention his dishes.

fish-tacos

Fish Tacos

(the amount of ingredients used will easily feed two people)
2 (6 oz) pieces of red snapper (or any fish of your choice)
4 soft taco sized tortillas (we used whole wheat)
salt
pepper
lime juice
chipotle cream (recipe follows)
Toppings of your choice – we used cabbage, diced tomato, diced red onion and salsa. Keep in mind that fish tacos are generally topped very simply.

Season both sides of the fish with salt and fresh ground pepper. Place in a grill pan over medium-high heat until fish is cooked through (flipping once). Remove from pan and top with fresh squeezed lime juice. Cut fish into strips and place in tortilla. Finish off with your preferred toppings.

Chipotle Cream

courtesy of Ellie Krieger, The Food You Crave
1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt
2 tbs. mayonnaise
2 tbs. chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped

In a small bowl combine all ingredients. Her recipe is complete at this point. I decided to add salt and pepper to taste and blend in our Magic Bullet (or food processor). I felt that this gave it much better flavor and a better texture.
Note: This sauce is fairly spicy so you may adjust the amounts to your liking.

Simple Black Bean Soup

(depending on portion size this will feed 2-3 people)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 16 oz. can of black beans
1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
1 bouillon cube
1 tsp. oregano
1 pinch crushed red pepper (or to your taste)
salt
pepper

In a saucepan saute the garlic and onion until translucent. Use a fork to slightly mush some of the beans in their can and then add to the pan. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Add the bouillon cube, oregano, crushed red pepper and salt & pepper to taste. Let simmer 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Garnish any way you like (chopped tomato, chopped red onion, etc.).

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