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LifestyleColumnistsMarge Perry

3 Simple soup recipes

Kale, butternut squash and white beans give this

Kale, butternut squash and white beans give this hearty soup texture, heft and great flavor.  Credit: Marge Perry

WINTER VEGETABLE SOUP

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 cups)

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary

2 medium russet potatoes, about 1 pound, peeled or scrubbed and cut in 3/4-inch dice

1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut in 3/4-inch pieces

3 ribs celery, chopped

4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon salt

12 ounces kale, torn in 3-inch pieces

1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium white beans

Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Heat the oil in an 8-quart soup pot over medium high. Add the onion, garlic, thyme and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, squash and celery and mix thoroughly. Add the broth, tomatoes, 4 cups of water and the salt and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.

2. Add the kale in several batches, tossing it to wilt slightly in between each addition. Bring back to a gentle simmer, cover and simmer 25 minutes, until all the vegetables are very tender. Stir in the beans and cook 2 minutes to heat through. Ladle into bowls and top with the cheese, if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 254 calories, 9 g protein, 50 g carbohydrates, 20 g fiber, 3 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 690 mg sodium

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BEEF AND BARLEY SOUP

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 pound boneless chuck roast, cut in 1/2-inch chunks

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 carrots, thinly sliced

2 ribs celery, thinly sliced

1 medium parsnip, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

12 ounces mushrooms, sliced

6 cups low-sodium beef broth

3/4 cup pearl barley

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a bowl; add the beef and toss to coat.

2. Heat the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium high. Add the beef and cook until browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

3. Add the carrot, celery, parsnip, onion and mushrooms to the pot and cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and cook, stirring to scrape any bits from the bottom of the pan, for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, return the meat to the pot, cover and very gently simmer 1 1/2 hours. Stir in the barley, cover and simmer until the barley is tender, about another 30 minutes.

4. Just before serving, taste to correct the seasoning and sprinkle with the parsley. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 436 calories, 32 g protein, 55 g carbohydrates, 11 g fiber, 11 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 547 mg sodium

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LEMON CHICKEN, SPINACH AND ORZO SOUP

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

2 carrots, chopped in 1/3-inch pieces

2 ribs celery, chopped

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 cup orzo

6 cups unsalted chicken broth

1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cut in 1/2-inch pieces

6 cups baby spinach

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1. Heat the oil over medium high in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, celery and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the orzo, 1 cup of water and the broth and bring to a boil; cook 5 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the carrots are tender.

2. Stir in the spinach, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper; cook 1 minute until spinach is wilted. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 325 calories, 39 g protein, 28 g carbohydrates, 5 g dietary fiber, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 683 mg sodium

TIP: All of these soups freeze well and may be reheated in the microwave or on the stove.

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