Soups (s) Du Jour

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That time of year is upon us. The air has a crisp chill, the leaves have begun to fall, and coats & umbrellas are at the ready. It is the time of year I want to curl up with some Sam Cooke, an enormous mug of tea, and a big bowl of soup.
Recently, I have gotten several requests for soup recipes to knock off that fall and soon to be winter chill. Oh how they know me well. I am KNOWN for my deep undying adoration of the creamy, smooth, succulent taste of soups. Give me a bisque, chowder, melty velvety cheesy or frothy soup ANY DAY! Just don’t give it to me from a can. Never. Nope. Not any more. Not when it is so quick, easy, cheap and nutritious to make it yourself.

As with everything else in my recipe arsenal soups are my quick and easy fix to my insane time crunched lifestyle. The motto here is “ Make it once, Eat it for months”! One large pot of soup is cheap, not difficult to make, and a money SAVER like none other.

Today I am going to do two quick soup recipes I dished out this past week. One is a remix of the No Cans Allowed Tomato Base and the other is a vitamin packed Butternut Squash Soup.

The great things about these soups, and well soup in general…they are jammed pack with nutrition, filling, and generally low cal. They also freeze well. You can make so many variations on that one little pot of soup to jazz it up and keep it “fresh” for your taste buds.

So first up is my famous Pizza Soup! Yes, I said pizza. I eat this soup pretty much any time of day. It has that throw back to college feeling of eating cold pizza for breakfast, if you like that sort of thing, or the decadent warm and cheesy hot of the oven goodness. I have literally eaten this soup five times in the past week. Filled with tons of hearty healthy goodness. I throw in my favorite pizza toppings with my No Can Tomato Sauce. I like mine thick and chunky, but you can thin it with vegetable/chicken broth or simply a little water. I add a little crusty bread and definitely some real Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Pizza Soup
Serves 2-3 servings

1 Cup of vegetable stock
1 cup of crimini mushrooms
1/2 cup white onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 “muffin” tins of No Cans Allowed Tomato Base
Lots of Mini Pepperoni slices
Handful of Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
Crushed Chili Pepper Flakes
Garlic Powder
Italian Seasoning
Salt (remember not in the original base so add here)
A few slices of Bell Pepper
3 Artichoke Hearts

This is my favorite variation of this recipe. It is sooooooo good. You can also throw in some spinach. Do you like Ham and Pineapple pizza? GO THERE! You can do whatever your little heart desires. Just try to make 90% of the add ins vegetables and the 10% won’t kill ya. Just don’t add all cheese and meat.. that defeats the purpose here. Believe me it is good to the last spoon full!

Recipe two was a specific request from my lovely former boss in Ohio. She had a LOT of butternut squash in her house and a couple of picky picky boys to feed. She wanted different ways to use the squash. I gave her a few recipes but, since this is a soup special I will give my ultra simple butternut squash recipe.

I must admit that for a long time I was petrified of squash…all varieties. It was definitely NOT part of mother’s arsenal of southern delights. My very first encounter with butternut squash was in fact as a soup…albeit a sweet and savory nutmeg and cinnamon cream soup. I nearly died. I don’t do sweet and savory together. Sorry guys. That works for some people but, not for me. But then I experimented with it by accident and voila…who knew.. I LIKED SQUASH. Butternut Squash in particular has a great starchy consistency and is chalk full of Vitamins and minerals for optimal health. It also helps that this time of year, when we need all the immune system boost we can get, that all the varieties of winter squash are dirt cheap!

Creamy Butternut Squash & Mushroom Bisque

1-2 large onions
1 Shallot
2 cups crimini mushrooms sliced
1 medium carrot
1 teaspoon of butter
2 cups no or low sodium chicken/vegetable broth
1-2 roasted butternut squash (simply slice in half, take out seeds and bake face down in oven on 350-400 for 30 minutes. Scoop out pulp for soup)
1/2 cup of low fat half and half
1/2 dry sherry
Cayenne Pepper – optional
Dash of cumin – optional
Dash of coriander – optional
Dash of Salt

– Slice the squash in half. Take out the seeds and stringy bits. Place some parchment paper on a baking sheet. Place Squash on pan and place in a 350-400 oven. Roast for 30 minutes.
– either keep up your feet for 20 minutes or slice up the veggies for the soup.
– lightly saute onions, shallots, carrots, and garlic. Add stock.
– Once Squash is finished roasting allow to cool. Take a large spoon or ice cream scoop if you have it to add the soft flesh to soup. Discard the skin.
– Throw in the rest of the seasonings including sherry but not the half/half.
– Puree
– When everything is soft and creamy it is done. Right before serving add the half and half.

You can also add things like eggplant, different wild mushrooms (for an earthy taste), Paprika instead of Cayenne Pepper, Ginger (gives it zip) or split lentils for a thicker and creamy soup.

I don’t know what it is about soup that makes me feel safe and warm. It is truly one of my favorite comfort foods. And what a guilt free comfort food…nutritious, creamy, decadent, and warming. The possibilities are endless when it comes to a bowl of luscious spoon licking joy! And soup pairs so easily with any meal. Add some sour dough bread, a big salad, broiled fish or lamb, or chicken! Soup goes with ANYTHING.

So yeah, you better believe there will be lots and lots of soup recipes this fall. I may hate the New York winter like none other, but I am secretly a little thankful for the cooler weather…because it means I get to fill my little belly with loads and loads of soup!

Bon Appetit

P.S. Keep the recipe requests coming!!!!!

Quick Food Facts:

** I am not a doctor or nutritionist… A good book and some googling and you can find this out too**

Crimini Mushrooms: Selenium, B2, Copper, B3, Tryptophan, B5, Potassium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Manganese, B1, B6, Protein, Folate, Dietary fiber, Magnesium, iron, Calcium. We often over look this tiny fungi. Crimini isn’t as exotic sounding as it’s Shitake cousins, which is a good things because they are SO much cheaper and chalk full of health boosting Vitamins and minerals. Selenium protects cells against free – radical damage (the damage that cause pre-mature aging, cancers, inflammation, etc). Lowers inflammation. Critical to proper thyroid functions. Iron and Copper are vital to proper blood formation. Rich in lots of B vitamins to fight fatigue, maintains healthy metabolism, maintains healthy cholesterol, etc.

Carrots: Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Dietary Fiber, Potassium, Vitamin B6, B1 (thiamin), B3 (niacin), Manganese, Molybdenum, Phosphorus, Magnesium, and Folate. Carrots are an excellent source of antioxidant compounds, and rich vegetable source of the pro-vitamin A carotenes. Carrots’ antioxidant compounds help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer and also promote good vision, especially night vision. Carotenoids are linked with lowering certain cancers including breast, lung and colon cancer, useful in regulating blood sugar, and reducing the risk of heart disease. If you or someone you love is a smoker, or if you are frequently exposed to secondhand smoke, then making “” vitamin A-rich foods, such as carrots, part of your healthy way of eating may save your life, suggests research conducted at Kansas State University. Molybdenum is a trace mineral. It is a component of several important interactions that lead to detoxification of the liver. Molybdenum is involved in breaking down certain amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and the production of waste products for excretion in the urine. It is involved in the chemical reactions that form bone, cartilage and blood.

Onions: Chromium, Vitamin C, Dietary Fiber, Manganese, Molybdenum, Vitamin B6, folate, Potassium, Phosphorus, quercitin and Copper. This multifaceted food is found in so many recipes for it’s distinct flavor but is often overlooked for its many healthy properties. Onions are very rich in chromium, a trace mineral that helps cells respond to insulin and lowering blood sugar. Chromium levels are depleted by the consumption refined sugars and white flour products as well as the lack of exercise. One cup of raw onion contains over 20% of the Daily Value for this important trace mineral. B6, Chromium and sulfur in onions also helps to lower high blood pressure and high Cholesterol. Onions like garlic has been shown to support gastrointestinal health, and contain anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties.

Garlic: Manganese, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Selenium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Vitamin B1,Copper, and Protein. Garlic has many great properties, but is known for its Anti-Inflammatory, Antibacterial and Antiviral Activity, Cardiovascular health, and potential reduction in certain forms of cancer.

Tomato: Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Molybdenum, Potassium, Manganese, Dietary Fiber, Chromium, Vitamin B1, B3, B2, B5, and B6, folate, Copper, Magnesium, Iron, Phosphorus, Vitamin E, Tryptophan, Lycopene and protein. In contrast to many other food phytonutrients, whose effects have only been studied in animals, lycopene from tomatoes has been repeatedly studied in humans and found to be protective against a growing list of cancers. These cancers now include colorectal, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers. Organic ketchup delivers three times as much of the cancer-fighting carotenoid, lycopene, as non-organic brands. Tomatoes and broccoli-two vegetables separately recognized for their cancer-fighting capabilities-are even more successful against prostate cancer when working as a team in the daily diet, shows a study published in Cancer Research. Niacin has been used for years as a safe way to lower high cholesterol levels. Diets rich in potassium have been shown to lower high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Spinach: Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Manganese, Folate, Magnesium, Iron, Vitamin C, Vitamin B2, B3, B6, B1, Calcium, Potassium, Tryptophan, Vitamin E, dietary fiber, Copper, Protein, Phosphorus, zinc, Omega 3 fatty acids, Selenium. Calorie for calorie, leafy green vegetables like spinach with its delicate texture and jade green color provide more nutrients than any other food. Although spinach is available throughout the year, its season runs from March through May and from September through October when it is the freshest, has the best flavor and is most readily available. We all know that Popeye made himself super strong by eating spinach, but you may be surprised to learn that he may also have been protecting himself against osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer, arthritis, and other diseases at the same time.

Basil: Vitamin K, Iron, Calcium, Vitamin A, Dietary Fiber, Manganese, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Potassium. The unique array of active constituents called flavonoids found in basil provide protection at the cellular level. Orientin and vicenin are two water-soluble flavonoids that have been of particular interest in basil, and in studies on human white blood cells; these components of basil protect cell structures as well as chromosomes from radiation and oxygen-based damage.

Oregano: Vitamin K, Manganese, Iron, Dietary Fiber, Omega 3 fatty acid, Calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C.Oregano contains numerous phytonutrients – including thymol and rosmarinic acid – that have also been shown to function as potent antioxidants that can prevent oxygen-based damage to cell structures throughout the body. In laboratory studies, oregano has demonstrated stronger anti-oxidant capacity than either of the two synthetic anti-oxidants commonly added to processed food – BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) and BHA (butylated bydroxyanisole). Additionally, on a per gram fresh weight basis, oregano has demonstrated 42 times more antioxidant activity than apples, 30 times more than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges and 4 times more than blueberries. Even through dried herbs and spices like oregano are widely available in supermarkets, you may want to explore the local spice stores in your area. Oftentimes, these stores feature an expansive selection of dried herbs and spices that are of superior quality and freshness compared to those offered in regular markets. Just like with other dried herbs, when purchasing dried oregano, try to buy that which has been organically grown since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated.

Low- Fat Cheese: Tryptophan, Calcium, Protein, Phosphorus, Iodine, Selenium. Tryptophan is hard to say but really useful in the body. It regulates your appetite, helps you sleep better, and elevates our moods. Tryptophan can be converted to niacin in the body and is the precursor to our body’s natural happy hormone Serotonin.

There are over 1,000 different varieties of cheeses that offer a wide spectrum of flavors, textures and aromas. Low-fat varieties can add flavor and nutrition to our menus through out the year. Cheese varieties are distinguished by what type of milk is used, the production methods and local tastes and preferences. The process of making cheese is considered an art, akin to winemaking in many parts of the world. As a general rule, favor low-fat dairy products rather than products made from whole milk. You can also mix in both lower fat ingredients and whole fat ingredients to keep taste and lower fat content. Remember small changes can make big differences.

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