Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

Sweet potatoes are a bit of an enigma to me.  I always thought that sweet potatoes were orange, but then one day I bought some and was surprised when I peeled one that the flesh looked just a tiny bit more orange than a regular potato.  It was the skin that was different.  For some reason I thought the magic would happen when the potato cooked – but seriously, I am not sure what I was thinking.  The cooked potato looked exactly like the raw one – and it wasn’t orange.

The next time I was in the market to buy some sweet potatoes, I noticed how the yams were different – the flesh actually looked orange.  So, that’s what I bought – and sure enough, it was as orange as can be.  And absolutely beautiful.  Ok, so I know that sweet potatoes and yams are supposed to taste the same, but for some reason the orange yams taste better to me.  It is amazing what a little color can do to your taste buds.  Ok, this has got to just be in my head.

I found this recipe in Cooking Light and it was the color that attracted me.  I am not a huge sweet potato soup fan, but I knew that with a color like that, and some bacon crumbles – how could I not love it.  It was a very simple soup – one of the simplest I have made – but the recipe was all wrong.  It called for sweet potatoes, and I knew that if I really used them, it would have no color at all.  So – I used yams – and sure enough, orange like the sun.  This soup was not only delicious, but as my neighbor described it – velvety – and that was exactly the texture.  The bacon crumbles gave it a nice salty taste that was a perfect balance with the sweet soup.  The only thing left to change now, is the name…but Creamy Yam Soup just doesn’t sound as good, right?

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds yams, halved lengthwise (about 2 large)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 ounce fresh Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves (optional)

Preparation

Place potatoes, cut sides down, in an 11 x 7-inch microwave-safe baking dish. Add 1/4 cup water; cover with plastic wrap. Microwave at HIGH 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Cool slightly; discard potato skins.

Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 1 minute or until translucent. Stir in cumin and red pepper. Add stock to pan; bring to a boil. Place half of sweet potato and half of stock mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters); blend until smooth. Pour pureed soup into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining sweet potato and stock mixture. Stir in salt. Divide soup evenly among 6 bowls; sprinkle cooked bacon and Parmesan cheese evenly over top. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

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Tortilla Soup with Chorizo and Turkey Meatballs

Tortilla Soup with Chorizo and Turkey Meatballs

The days are getting longer.  Yes, that is exactly how I think about it.  Daylight Savings Time is not my friend.  In the fall, it is a completely different story – you get an extra hour of sleep, everything is peachy.  Plus, I actually love when it gets dark at 4pm in the afternoon, there is something very appealing to me.  I think it is because it seems like it should be so much later when it is dark, but you have hours left in the day.  Last weekend really messed me up – I have been exhausted all week – and as I am typing away, I really should be getting some sleep, as I have a 4am conference call tomorrow.  As if my internal clock isn’t already messed up enough.

There is something positive though about longer days…and it all comes back to this blog.  When I started this blog, I went out and got a painter’s light so I could take pictures before dinner (when it was dark), and I would still capture some good shots.  Over the years though life has become just too hectic – and last year, with my New Year’s resolution to simplify (which I tried extremely hard to do, but it never seems to be enough), I decided I would no longer go through the hassle.  Taking pictures outside is much easier and less time consuming.  Easier said then done.  What that means is that half the year, I can only make things on the weekend to post – and they need to be photographed while there is still light in the sky.  At least my family no longer waits for me to take pictures before we eat dinner.

Longer days means taking pictures after I make a weeknight meal – I love it.  Last night I was so excited to run a bowl of soup outside and snap a few shots before sitting down – I felt like I accomplished that much more in my evening.  After all – this very easy soup that I found in Cooking Light was definitely worth photographing.  I took one taste, and I knew it was a keeper.  I love a good meal in a bowl – and this was definitely satisfying.  I must say – do not skip the cilantro – it made the entire dish sing.

So, maybe longer days means I can be more productive.  But seriously, is that really what I need right now?  Just a good bowl of soup and some sleep – now that’s more like it.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped seeded poblano pepper
  • 1 ounce smoked Spanish chorizo, finely chopped
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 1  (14.5-ounce) can unsalted diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2  corn tortillas, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 12 ounces 93% lean ground turkey
  • 1  large egg
  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add onion, poblano, and chorizo; sauté 2 minutes. Add stock and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Stir in tortillas.

Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, garlic powder, and next 4 ingredients (through egg). Shape turkey mixture into 12 meatballs. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add meatballs; cook 4 minutes, browning on all sides. Add meatballs, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and corn to stock mixture, and simmer 5 minutes. Top with cilantro.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Tortilla Soup with Chorizo and Turkey Meatballs

Pork Posole

Pork Posole

I have started trying something new on the weekends.  I have been very spoiled for some time now – my husband has a toy, it is called The Big Green Egg, and Sunday’s are egg day.  I am no longer responsible for Sunday night dinners, and haven’t been for a few years.  He has taken that responsibility (of course I help with the sides), and I have definitely been benefiting.  It allows me to focus on making jam and baking on Sunday, which is absolutely what I love to do.

The other weekend though I had a thought – cooking during the week is hard.  We cook every night (we are not a take out family, nor do we go to restaurants on school nights), and let me tell you – after being at work all day, it is hard to get home and then cook a meal from scratch every night.  Before we had kids – I would cook every weekend, for the entire week.  We worked even more back then, and when we got home at 8pm, we just wanted to be able to throw something in the oven, but still have a home cooked meal.  So why don’t I do more of that now?  Well, I have limited cooking time, and like I mentioned, I need to save some for jamming and baking.

So, I decided to make one meal over the weekend, that we could warm up later in the week – and I saw this recipe in Cooking Light and thought it would be perfect.  It was super easy to make, and it warmed up just perfectly.  I think it actually even had a better flavor after letting it sit in the refrigerator for a few days.  The pork was so ridiculously tender, and the hominy really softened up.  Let’s see if I can actually keep this going…and maybe add another meal in there at some point.  I can always dream.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 1/2 cup salsa verde
  • 1  (28-ounce) can hominy, drained
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • avocado

Preparation

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add pork; sauté 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove pork from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan. Add onion to pan; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Return pork to pan; stir in cumin and pepper. Add beer; bring to a boil. Cook until liquid almost evaporates (about 9 minutes).

Add chicken stock, salsa, and hominy; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour and 10 minutes or until pork is very tender, stirring occasionally. Ladle 1 1/3 cups soup into each of 4 bowls. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon cilantro and avocado.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Pork Posole

Broccoli-Cheese Soup

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Some weeks I feel like I am on a treadmill, and I can’t get off.  I am exhausted, but I have to keep going – otherwise it could get dangerous.  It is weeks like this that I just focus on getting off the treadmill safely.  Making sure I do the things I absolutely must do, while putting the other things aside.  Because seriously – what else can you really do when you are on a treadmill, except walk.  Trying to balance something on your head at the same time is just plain crazy.

Last week I got some very sad news.  A former boss of mine was in a horrible tragic accident.  I won’t go into details, but basically his life was cut short when he made a terrible mistake.  He was a father, a grandfather, and a leader.  People looked up to him.  He was a very good listener, and gave lots of good advice.  I worked for him when I was pregnant with my first child – and I remember the day that I told him I was pregnant.  He was so happy for me, he had this sparkle in his eye – he was looking forward to grandchildren.  A few years later, he got that gift.  If only he had lived long enough to retire, and spend more time with them.

When I came back from maternity leave, he was the first person I told about my decision to cut back.  I couldn’t work the hours I had worked before my daughter was born.  I wanted to work part-time, and I was willing to move to another team to find the balance I needed.  It was shortly after we had that conversation that I found a group that was willing to take me part-time.  I knew he felt a little like I had let him down.  I could see it in his face.  I had a team of people who counted on me, but I needed to focus on my family.  We parted ways, but things were never the same.  The last conversation I had with him was a few months ago.  He wanted me to talk to someone on his team that had kids, and needed more balance in their life.  He said he thought that I could really help this woman.  What was interesting to me is that he never stopped thinking of me in that way – I have been working full-time again for years now.  I certainly don’t feel that I am the poster child for balance anymore, but it works for me.  I am extremely productive at work, and at home – and with technology these days, it is amazing how much work I can fit in.  I never got the chance to tell him that all I really needed was a break.  I had to slow down for a few years – but I came back, with more energy than ever.

I leave you with a recipe that doesn’t take a ton of energy to put together.  This recipe from Cooking Light is just about as simple as it gets.  With an immersion blender, you just bought yourself even less time and energy.  When you are on that treadmill, you need a good healthy home cooked meal – and it doesn’t get much better than this.  Be careful out there…one wrong move is all it takes – particularly when you are balancing on that treadmill.  The goal is to have a nice steaming bowl of healthy soup when you get off, and someone to share it with.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 3/4 cups broccoli florets, coarsely chopped (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 4 ounces shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Preparation

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until broccoli is tender. Pour soup into a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Return soup to pan. Stir in half-and-half and 2 ounces cheese. Top evenly with remaining cheese and parsley.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Broccoli-Cheese Soup

Red Lentil Dahl

Red Lentil Dal

This is going to be brief, but I need to share this recipe.  What a week – I can hardly believe it is almost over.  I really feel like I blinked, and it went from Monday to Thursday night.  It didn’t help that I was in meetings pretty much all week, and have barely had a chance to catch my breath – and in the process came down with a nasty cold. My body was definitely trying to tell me something…maybe I just need some soup.

Fall came really quickly this year, and all of a sudden it became soup and stew weather.  Not only is it pretty easy to make (for the most part), you can make a large batch and it usually it gets better the longer it sits.  One of my favorite recipes to make when the weather turns is Dahl.  I just love Indian food – those wonderful flavors and spices all blended together, and Dahl is just super easy to make – particularly this recipe from Cooking Light.

We used to eat Indian food quite a bit, but with my husband’s dairy allergy we have really cut that out of our routine.  The girls also have not embraced Indian food as much as they have embraced other international flavors.  This dish though got them a little closer to asking for it – they both loved it, and even ate the large pieces of spinach.  Hopefully they will be able to ward off this cold – and I will be seeing some Indian food in my future….more soon.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups water, divided
  • 3/4 cup dried small red lentils
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2  serrano chiles, minced (optional)
  • 2 ounces spinach (about 4 cups loosely packed)

Preparation

To prepare dal, combine 3 cups water and lentils in a bowl. Let stand 20 minutes; drain.

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add the chopped onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add ginger and next 6 ingredients (through serranos); sauté for 30 seconds. Add lentils and remaining 2 cups water to pan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 23 minutes. Stir in spinach; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts.

To prepare salad, combine 2 tablespoons oil, rind, juice, and sugar in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add carrot, sliced onion, and cilantro; toss to coat.

To prepare flatbreads, shape each dough portion into a 5-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Coat dough with cooking spray. Heat a grill pan over high heat. Add 2 dough portions to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly charred. Repeat the procedure with remaining dough. Combine coriander and 1/4 teaspoon salt; sprinkle over hot flatbreads. Serve with rice, dal, and salad.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Red Lentil Dahl

Red Lentil Dahl 2

Asparagus Soup

Asparagus Soup

This is an exciting time.  The countdown has begun to the last day of school – less than 10 days to go;  the first week of Junuary has greeted us with sunshine and warm temperatures (I swear everyone had a little extra bounce today in their steps) and asparagus is still selling at a decent price in the markets.  All year I wait for my favorite veggies to go on sale…asparagus and artichokes.  My rule of thumb for my green goddesses is to start looking after St. Patrick’s day (the green holiday), and by the time it is berry season they are gone – but at that point we are talking about berries…so onto something bigger and better. This year I have really been enjoying the asparagus. In fact, my children have also become connoisseurs.

The other week my husband went to the market with my younger daughter, and one of the items on the list was asparagus.  My husband was eyeing up the stalks, and chose what he thought was a decent bunch.  My younger daughter took one look and started lecturing him on the correct diameter of asparagus stalks.  I love it, at 7 years old, she is already an expert.

Unfortunately we have eaten so much asparagus lately, my kids have started to hold up the white flag.  I have tried to take a positive spin on that and think of it as a challenge.  What else could I do with those delicious green stalks that would make them happy?  Well, I thought about pasta with asparagus cream sauce, that was until I saw this recipe in the Parade Magazine for Asparagus Soup.  What intrigued me most about this recipe was the use of evaporated milk.  What a great addition.  I have made asparagus soup without milk or cream, but I love the creaminess that it brings.  The girls loved it too.

As asparagus season comes to a close, don’t you want to try something new?  Isn’t it time to shake things up a bit?  I know I’m ready for that.  And a sunny Junuary might just give people the energy and inspiration to do so.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds asparagus
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup evaporated 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • parmesan cheese, grated

Preparation

Trim the woody ends from the asparagus; reserve tips of 8 spears.  Cut the remaining asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces.

In a large saucepan, warm the olive oil over low heat.  Add the onion, celery and carrot; cook 3 minutes.  Add the garlic, and cook one minute.  Add the asparagus, salt and pepper and cook 5 minutes.  Add the broth and simmer, covered for 20 minutes.  Blanch the asparagus tips in boiling water for 3 minutes.  Drain.

Puree soup either using an immersion blender (easiest) or in batches in a blender.  Return to the saucepan over medium heat and add evaporated milk and lemon juice.  Warm though – although don’t let simmer.  Top with tips and add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Serves 4

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Asparagus Soup

Roasted Red Pepper Soup Shots

Red Pepper Soup Shots

It is amazing what a good somewhat relaxing weekend can do for you.  For the first time in weeks, I am actually ready for the week to come.  I got a ton done this weekend, and caught up on some much-needed sleep.  I feel like a new person – now let’s see how long it takes for that to all come undone…

So lately I have had a bit of a glass fetish.  I find myself combing Etsy for the vintage glassware – and believe me, I have stocked my bar with some keepers.  I completely turned over my somewhat modern looking glassware for all vintage stuff – ranging from the 30s  (I think) through the Mad Men era.  I am quite pleased with my collection, and love having people over so I can try them out.  Most of my more modern glasses were pretty easy to part with.  I was never really fond of them, but they were what I had – and there was no use in getting new ones.  I brought a big bag over to Goodwill and had a good time thinking about how someday maybe these glasses would become vintage…but it will be quite a while before that happens.

As I was going through my glasses, I found these tall shot glasses that I had only used once before.  That right there should have been the nudge I needed to part ways, but there was something telling me that I should hold onto them.  So, I moved them to a different cabinet – one that wouldn’t make me think of them as glasses to drink out of, but instead glasses to serve from.  It was not long afterwards that I found this recipe in Bon Appetit for these Roasted Pepper Shooters – that was it.  That was exactly what is supposed to go in these glasses.  They are appetizer glasses – or as they say in fancy restaurants – for an “Amuse Bouche.”  Something to waken your palate in anticipation of the meal.  So – when I had some friends over, I whipped this up (and literally, that’s exactly what I did – they were that easy).  My only mistake is that I did not serve them chilled.  We had the leftovers the next night – nice and chilled, and they were fantastic.  I wanted an entire bowl – which is exactly what a good Amuse Bouche does.  Now, let the week begin!

Ingredients

  • one 16-ounce jar fire-roasted red peppers with  their juices
  • 1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation

Purée the first four ingredients in a  blender on high speed until very smooth, about 1 minute. With motor running,  gradually add the olive oil. Season to taste  with salt, pepper, and more vinegar, if  desired.

DO AHEAD Soup can be made 1 day ahead. Cover;  chill.

Divide soup among small cups or shot glasses.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Roasted Red Pepper Soup Shots

Red Lentil-Pumpkin Soup

Red Lentil Pumpkin Soup

I am not really a huge kitchen gadget person – believe me, I have a lot of gadgets in my kitchen, but I am shocked to look through my drawers at what I use, and what just sits there collecting dust.  Since we are in the gift giving season, I have decided to post my all-time favorite kitchen gadgets.  Please note, I have not been paid what-so-ever to promote any of these items – these are all mine, and I am giving you my honest feedback.  I would give you a top 10 list, except that I cam really only think of my top 5 – would you believe that I really don’t have more than 5, with all the cooking I do? I think that says a lot right there – I use the same things over and over…these are in no particular order.

  1. Giant Spatula – I use this for everything: cakes, roasts, pommes Anna – anything I need to move from one place to another.
  2. Ice Cream Scoops – mostly I use these to bake with, and I have multiple sizes: cookie dough and cupcakes.
  3. Silicone Pastry Brush - fabulous because you can stick it in the dishwasher and it comes out perfectly clean!
  4. 1/4-Cup Measuring Cup – great for baking, and for making cocktails!
  5. Immersion Blender – what an amazing thing this is – it saves tons of dishwashing time.

Speaking of immersion blenders – I really don’t know what I would do without mine.  Before I had one, this soup would have been a pain in the neck.  I hate putting hot liquids into the blender, it always makes me nervous.  This soup was one of the easiest dinners I have made in a long time – and the best part of all was how few dishes I had to wash.  Oh, the other bonus is that this soup is vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free (as long as you skip the yogurt garnish) – and for my husband these days – that is a really good thing.  The soup was delicious, and perfect for this time of year.  You even have enough pumpkin left over to make some pumpkin bread.

So – with all the craziness of the season, do yourself a favor – get yourself an immersion blender, make this soup for dinner – and then order the rest of the gifts above for your friends and family.   Done, done, and done.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 1/2 cups organic vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 cup dried small red lentils
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt (optional)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seed kernels, toasted (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Preparation

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Stir in 3 cups broth, lentils, and next 4 ingredients (through red pepper); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until lentils are tender.

Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.  If you don’t have one, place the lentil mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Return lentil mixture to pan over medium heat. Add remaining 1/2 cup broth, 1 cup water, and pumpkin to pan; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in ginger and lemon juice.

Ladle 1 1/2 cups soup into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with about 2 teaspoons yogurt, 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds, and 1 tablespoon cilantro if using.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Red Lentil-Pumpkin Soup

Moroccan Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup

My kids crack me up.  Yes, there are times when I have had enough, and I just snap, but sometimes the things they say are just too much.  Last month when we were with my father-in-law, my youngest was playing a guessing game with him.  She wanted him to guess the person she was thinking of – he happens to be a very famous person, with a very big job.  She said, “His first name begins with a B, and his last name begins with a B.”  At first we thought we knew who it was, but when she told us the last name began with a B, we were all stumped.  After a few more clues, we were sure she was talking about the President.  We asked, “Are you sure his last name begins with a B?”  She said, “Yes, Barack0 Bama.”  I swear I could not stop crying, I was laughing so hard.

Now back to food…I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, and I knew it would be risky.  Squash is not a fan favorite among the little people of the house.  I decided I wasn’t going to let that stop me though.  If it was tasty enough, they would love it.  I happened to make it one night when my older one was not home for dinner – which sometimes helps my younger one to be more adventurous.  I served the soup, and my husband and I loved it.  It had a really nice tomato flavor, and chock full of stuff – chicken, squash and couscous – with this lovely cinnamon flavor.  It was even better than I imagined.  Then came the moment I was waiting for – she was all excited to have soup for dinner, and took a bite, and actually went in for another.  After a few bites she said, “Mommy, I wouldn’t say I hate this.”  Well, that is better than the alternative.  She didn’t eat a ton of the squash, but managed to eat around it and got lots of chicken, couscous, and soup.  At least we avoided the cold cuts…success!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 (4-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 3 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons no-salt-added tomato paste
  • 4 cups Chicken Stock or fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup uncooked couscous
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange rind

Preparation

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken; cook for 4 minutes, browning on all sides. Add cumin, cinnamon, and pepper to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add butternut squash and tomato paste; cook 1 minute. Stir in Chicken Stock, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes. Stir in couscous, salt, and zucchini; cook 5 minutes or until squash is tender. Remove pan from heat. Stir in chopped basil and orange rind.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Moroccan Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup

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Tomato-Basil Soup

I know you have all been sitting at the edge of your seat waiting and wondering what I served with those delicious Mini Bacon and Egg Tarts…and here it is.  Tomato-Basil Soup.

When I was in college, my roommates were into food almost as much as I was.  For the most part we cooked for ourselves (and I got really good cooking for one), but sometimes we would make stuff for us all to share.  One of my roommates was not a huge fan of cheese, but she loved italian food, and had spent a lot of time in Italy growing up.  She made this amazing pasta dish for us that we would ask for again and again – the secret was that she added cream cheese to the tomato sauce, and it made this very creamy sauce, almost like a vodka sauce, that covered the pasta just beautifully so you would get a mouth full of sauce with every bite.  I absolutely loved it, and was so excited whenever it was in my future.  I had almost forgotten all about this, until I saw this Tomato-Basil Soup…

As I was looking through my Cooking Light, I spotted this soup.  My girls have been asking for tomato soup lately – mostly because they know it goes well with grilled cheese, one of their favorites.  I looked at the recipe and I noticed the cream cheese.  My mind went instantly to college and that pasta recipe my roommate used to make.  I could taste the soup before even making it – and I knew it would be amazing.  Well, I was right – and as a bonus, this was incredibly easy to make, and a light version.  Back when I was in college, I don’t think light cream cheese existed, but I tell you, you would not notice the difference.  This soup was so creamy, and so rich tasting – and together with those delicious tarts, it was just perfect.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 (28-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 2 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preparation

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in garlic; cook for 1 minute. Add basil and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Stir in cheese until melted. Place mixture in blender, and blend until smooth. Return to pan; stir in milk, salt, and pepper. Return to medium-high; cook 2 minutes.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Tomato-Basil Soup

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