Fall 2006 -- Cool Nights, Hot Soups
by Glenda Fauntleroy
Soup is good any time of the year, but it's an especially satisfying dish during the fall and winter. Chunky or smooth, robust or delicate, soups come in dozens of delectable categories. From light chicken broths to hearty, cold-winter's-night chili, soup is the ultimate comfort food.
Soup also makes a pleasing centerpiece for a dinner party. Adding some clever finishing touches and serving it in colorful bowls can dress up any soup for entertaining.
For nice finishing touches, try using miniature cookie cutters to cut shapes from toasted breads such as rosemary focaccia or sourdough, float croutons on top of the soup, or serve tortilla strips on the side for a nice crunch.
Here are three soup recipes that will surely delight your palate on cool nights. The Chicken and Couscous and Tex-Mex Corn Soups combine onions, fresh peppers, and other hearty vegetables for healthy, low-fat meals. And don't miss the savory flavor of garlic, jalapeño, cumin, and cilantro that add spicy heat to the Butternut-Beef Chili. So reach for the largest pan in the kitchen and get ready to warm your home and your taste buds.
Chicken and Couscous Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 celery sticks, sliced
2 zucchini, sliced
2 small carrots, sliced
4 cups chicken stock
2 chicken breast fillets
1/2 cup instant couscous
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until very soft, stirring occasionally. Add the cumin, paprika, ginger, and garlic and stir, cooking for 1 minute longer.
- Add celery, carrot, zucchini and stir to coat with the spices. Stir in the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
- Add the chicken to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the chicken is just tender; don't overcook. Stir in couscous and chopped parsley and serve. (Add the couscous to the soup just before serving because it absorbs liquid quickly and becomes very thick.)
Per serving: 170 calories, 5.5 g fat, 37 mg cholesterol, 210 g sodium.
Tex-Mex Corn Soup
1 tablespoon margarine
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, crushed
4 cups chicken stock or chicken or vegetable broth (reduce your salt intake by using the low-salt variety)
1 17-ounce can creamed corn, including liquid
1 16-ounce can whole kernel corn, including liquid
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Melt margarine in a large saucepan. Add onion, red bell pepper, and red pepper flakes.
- Sauté until tender, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes.
- Stir in chicken stock and both cans of corn. Continue cooking until the soup is very hot. Add salt and pepper.Serve immediately.
Per serving: 110 calories, 3 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 455 mg sodium.
1 pound ground round
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
3 cups chopped tomato (about 2 large)
3 cups chopped peeled butternut squash (about 1 small)
3 cups water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 16-ounce can kidney beans, drained
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup small pitted ripe olives
2 to 3 tablespoons minced, seeded jalapeño pepper
6 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- Combine the first three ingredients in a large pan or Dutch oven, and cook over medium-high heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain well and return meat mixture to pan.
- Stir in tomato and next nine ingredients (squash through garlic); bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until squash is tender, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in olives and jalapeño pepper. Cook 5 minutes.
- Ladle chili into soup bowls, and top each serving with 1 tablespoon green onions and 1 teaspoon cilantro.
Per serving: 262 calories, 6.8 g fat; 444 mg sodium.