Tidewater Kitchen - March 2010


Comfort Soups
Pamela Meredith-Doyle


Soup must have healing powers; witness what chicken noodle and homemade broth can do to colds. Even when you are in top health, soup just rejuvenates the soul!
I know when I have nothing in the house I can always pull a pot of soup together with leftover vegetables and some broth. I always keep low-sodium broth on hand. Leftover beef and chicken can always be added to enhance the flavor. Potatoes, rice and noodles not only add heartiness, but the starch thickens the liquid. A can of seasoned diced tomatoes or drained beans can also stretch the soup to feed more people.
Homemade soups don’t need to take hours to make. Most soups can be made in 20 to 30 minutes. I love to get the kids involved too. They really enjoy peeling and cutting the vegetables and when they are involved in making it, they are more likely to eat it.
Soups are a perfect meal any time. I especially like to make them ahead and freeze them for when you’re in a pinch. Soup’s on!

Serves 6
This soup tastes like you’ve been cooking it all day, but it can be done in under a half hour. Dress it up with a dollop of sour cream and sliced green onions.

1 lb. ground beef
2 T. chili powder
1 14-oz. pkg. frozen corn, thawed
2 cans black beans with juices
1 14-oz. can fat-free, less sodium beef broth
1 15-oz. can seasoned tomato sauce
Reduced fat sour cream
Sliced green onions

Combine the beef and chili powder and blend in a large Dutch oven. Cook for 6 minutes over medium-high heat or until beef is browned, stirring to crumble. Drain and return to the pan.
Stir in the corn, broth and tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Ladle the chili into bowls and top with sour cream and green onions.

Serves 4
The meat enhances the flavor when it is cooked to a dark brown, so be sure not to stir the pork until it releases easily from the pan. Serve this fiery soup with warm flour tortillas.

1 1-lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 T. chipotle seasoning blend
1 15.5-oz. can white hominy, undrained
2 14.5-oz. cans Mexican-style stewed tomatoes with jalapeno peppers, undrained
1 cup water
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle pork evenly with the chipotle seasoning blend and then coat with cooking spray. Add the pork to the pan and cook for 4 minutes or until browned. Stir in the hominy, tomatoes and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat, simmering for 20 minutes or until pork is tender. Stir in cilantro and serve.
If you don’t want the heat, use plain stewed tomatoes instead of the Mexican-style.

Serves 6
Everyone will want this recipe because the baby corn is wonderfully sweet.

2 strips bacon (I like to use turkey bacon)
½ cup celery, chopped
½ cup onion, chopped
½ cup red bell pepper, chopped
2 16-oz. pkg. frozen baby gold and white corn, thawed and divided
2 cups 1% low-fat milk, divided
½ t. salt
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup reduced-fat extra-sharp cheese, shredded
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, crumble and set aside. Add celery, onion and bell pepper, along with 1 package of corn, to the drippings in the pan. Sauté for 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
Place remaining package of corn and 1 cup of milk in a blender and process until smooth. Add pureed mixture to vegetables, stir in remaining cup of milk, salt, black pepper and cheese. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until cheese melts. Make sure you do not let it boil.
Ladle the chowder into bowls and top with crumbled bacon and a sprinkle of black pepper.

Serves 4
1 T. olive oil
1 cup cooked ham, diced
1½ cups onion, chopped
3 cups sweet potato, peeled and cubed (you could substitute butternut squash)
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 5-oz. can evaporated fat-free milk
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
Thinly sliced green onion for garnish

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Coat pan with olive oil. Add ham and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently. Remove ham from the pot and set aside.
Add onion to the pan and coat with cooking spray. Cook onion, covered, for 5 minutes or until very tender, stirring occasionally.
Add the sweet potato and the next 4 ingredients, scraping the pan to loosen browned bits. Bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the sweet potato is very tender.
Place half the potato mixture in a blender or food processor. Remove the center piece of the blender lid to allow steam to escape. Secure the blender lid and place a clean towel over the opening to avoid splatters. Process until smooth. Pour this puree into a large bowl and repeat with the rest of the potato mixture. Return all of the puree to the pan and stir in ¾ cup of reserved ham. Ladle soup into bowls and top servings evenly with remaining ham. Garnish with sliced onions.

Serves 6
I really love the extra zing that fresh cilantro brings. It is a nice burst of color and flavor.

2 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded
1 T. taco seasoning (like Old El Paso)
Olive oil
2 14-oz. cans fat-free, less sodium chicken broth
1 16-oz. can cannellini (or other white) beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup green salsa
Light sour cream
Fresh cilantro, chopped

Combine chicken and taco seasoning and toss well to coat. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken and sauté for 2 minutes or until chicken is lightly browned. Add broth, scraping the pan to loosen browned bits.
Place beans in a small bowl and mash until only a few whole beans remain. Add beans and salsa to the pan, stirring well. Bring to a boil and reduce heat, simmering for 10 minutes or until slightly thick. Serve topped with sour cream and cilantro.

Serves 4
This is so healthy and easy to make. It works for both lunch and dinner.

1 14.5-oz. can Italian-style stewed tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1 14-oz. can fat-free less-sodium chicken broth
1 cup cooked chicken breast, chopped
2 cups coarsely chopped escarole (about 1 small head)
2 t. extra-virgin olive oil

Combine tomatoes and broth in a large saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add chicken, escarole and oil and cook for about 5 minutes more.

Serves 4
Make sure you add the spinach at the very last minute as it will not hold up to hours of cooking.

2 T. olive oil
6 oz. turkey sausage
2½ cups frozen bell peppers (I love the tri-colored from Trader Joe’s)
2 cups water
1 14.5-oz. can Italian stewed tomatoes, undrained and chopped
¼ cup uncooked quick-cooking barley
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh baby spinach

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to the pan and add sausage. Cook for 3 minutes or until browned. Remove from heat.
While sausage cooks, place peppers and 2 cups of water in a blender and process until smooth.
Add puree, tomatoes and barley to the sausage in the pan. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in spinach and cook for another minute or until spinach wilts.

Serves 7
Gnocchi are small, quick-cooking dumplings usually made from potatoes. Look for shelf-staple vacuum-packed packages of gnocchi with the dried pasta. Serve this hearty main-dish soup with a crisp green salad.

1 4.5-oz. link hot turkey Italian sausage
2 cups water
1 16-oz. pkg. gnocchi
1 14-oz. can fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
1 14.5-oz. can Italian-style stewed tomatoes, undrained and chopped
½ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Remove casings from sausage. Cook sausage in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until sausage is browned, stirring to crumble.
Add 2 cups of water and next 3 ingredients to pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes or until gnocchi float to the top of the pan. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle each evenly with cheese.

8 pieces

1 garlic clove, pressed
1 6-oz. whole wheat French bread baguette, cut in half lengthwise
1½ T. light olive oil vinaigrette
½ t. chopped fresh rosemary
¼ cup finely grated Asiago cheese

Preheat the broiler.
Spread garlic on cut sides of bread and brush evenly with the vinaigrette. Top evenly with rosemary and cheese.
Broil for 4 minutes or until cheese melts and bread is lightly browned. Cut into 8 pieces.