We’ve been trying out more soup recipes this winter due to the extended cold weather and I thought I’d post a few that we found to be fairly easy and quite delicious. The first is a winter spin on an old, italian classic – minestrone. Cooking Light magazine adds swiss chard, fennel and butternut squash, giving this traditional soup a hearty flair. For the second soup, I’d been looking for good lentil dishes and when my coworker gave me some amazing home-grown lemons, I thought this Food & Wine Magazine recipe would be a perfect way to incorporate the two.
Take your meal to the next level with a serving of hot, crusty bread – our favorite is the Roasted Garlic from La Brea Bakery (they sell a dual-pack at Costco, if you can’t find it at your local grocer). So stay in, turn on the stove, and warm up with these satisfying bowls of goodness!
Winter Minestrone (serves 4-6)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/4 cups cubed peeled acorn or butternut squash (about 1 medium)
- 3/4 cup diced zucchini
- 1/2 cup chopped carrot
- 1/2 cup diced fennel
- 1 cup water
- 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
- 5 tablespoons no-salt-added tomato paste
- 1/4 cup uncooked ditalini (any small pasta would work well, I used orzo)
- 2 1/2 cups chopped Swiss chard
- 1/2 cup rinsed and drained canned Great Northern Beans (I used white beans)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons grated Asiago cheese (optional)
- Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, basil, oregano, and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender.
- Add squash and next 3 ingredients (through fennel); sauté 5 minutes.
- Stir in 1 cup water, broth, and tomato paste; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender.
- Stir in pasta; cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add chard; cook 3 minutes.
- Add beans; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in pepper. Serve with cheese.
Lentil and Swiss Chard Soup (serves 4-6)
- 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
- 4 cups water
- 4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- drizzle of olive oil for pan, plus more for serving (optional)
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
- 1 bunch green Swiss chard (1 1/4 pounds), ribs removed and reserved for another use, leaves coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- Freshly ground pepper
- In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils with the water, stock and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Cover partially and cook over moderately low heat until the lentils are barely tender, about 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, crushed pepper and a pinch of salt and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cilantro and cook for 1 minute. Gradually add the chard leaves and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 3 minutes.
- Add the chard to the lentils, cover partially, and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, season with pepper and olive oil and serve.
I haven’t posted a recipe lately, and with all the recent rain and cold weather, I thought a warming weeknight chili would be a perfect addition. This is a recipe I found in Cooking Light Magazine a few years back and one that I make at least once a month during the colder months. It is quick, easy and incredibly flavorful considering it only takes 20 minutes to make! Best of all, it is made with pantry staples and readily available fresh ingredients. Don’t forget to bake some cornbread and serve with honey butter. Yum!
Here’s what you need:
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 1/2 pound ground turkey breast
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes with jalapeño peppers and spices, undrained
- 1 (5.5-ounce) can tomato juice
Here’s what you do:
Heat oil in a large dutch oven or skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and turkey, and cook 3 minutes or until done, stirring to crumble. Stir in chili powder and the next 8 ingredients (chili powder through tomato juice); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Serve with just-from-the-oven cornbread with honey butter. Serves 4. Double the recipe and bring it to your next lunchtime potluck!
The original recipe can be found here and includes the addition of cheese and rice.
Money Saving Tips: Purchase ground turkey on sale – I usually try to buy in bulk when it is $1.99/lb or less, then split into 1/2 lb portions and freeze for later use. Whenever I’m at BigLots, I’ll pick up a can of Rotel tomatoes so I have it on hand for this recipe; V-8 is also inexpensive at BigLots. And as always, best prices on spices are found at your discount stores – BigLots, Dollar Tree and 99 cent stores.
The latest edition of Cooking Light Magazine has a beautiful Bulgur Salad with Edamame and Cherry Tomatoes recipe that I just had to try. This is an herby, fresh-tasting recipe, that is best after letting it rest for at least an hour to let the flavors combine. A great salad to keep in your summer salad armamentarium! Delicious!
- 1 cup uncooked bulgur
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 cup frozen shelled edamame (green soybeans)
- 1 pound yellow and red cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1 cup chopped green onions
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Combine bulgur and 1 cup boiling water in a large bowl. Cover and let stand 1 hour or until bulgur is tender.
2. Cook edamame in boiling water 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain. Add edamame, tomatoes, and remaining ingredients to bulgur; toss well. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.
Time-Saving Tip: Instead of covering the bulgur for an hour (who really has an hour to wait?), I prepared it according to the Bob’s Red Mill package instructions, which is simply to bring the water and bulgur mixture to a boil, cover and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
I’ve always been a big fan of Cooking Light Magazine. For the most part, the recipes are quite tasty and are a great way to cut calories and fat without losing flavor.
One of my all-time favorite Cooking Light recipes is Cashew Chicken. I’ve often found stir fry recipes bland but this is a perfect balance between salty and sweet, and has a delicious crunch. This is a meal we make at least once a month, not only for the taste, but midweek simplicity.
- 1 yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges
- 1 c red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 lb chicken breast, thinly sliced
- crushed red pepper for heat
- Combine the first seven ingredients (through salt) in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat oil in wok. Add 1/2 c green onions and onion wedges and cook until browned. Add chicken to onion mixture and stir fry until no longer translucent, about 5 – 10 minutes, depending on the temperature of your wok.
- Add carrots, stir fry 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms, snap peas and bell pepper, stir fry for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add sauce to wok with pineapple, cashews and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer until thick.
- Stir in remaining green onions and serve over brown rice. Enjoy!
As with all recipes, tweaking is allowed. I am not strict in terms of the proportions of “stuff” – just don’t mess with the sauce! I usually cook for two, so I’ll often use a bit less of everything with the same amount of sauce.
Stir fry veggies should have a nice crunch, so make sure not to cook them too long. They are perfect when they are beautifully bright and colorful.
Shopping tips: Shop your local farmer’s market for fresh and inexpensive produce. Also, buy chicken breast in bulk when on sale – I usually wait and stock up when it hits $1.99/lb here in Southern California. You can freeze the breasts individually for quick weekday meals.