Posts Tagged 'soup'

Tomato and Coriander Soup

Is it possible to have too many tomatoes? Some people say it is. I am still eating cherry tomatoes right off the bushes, but I had some bigger  farmers’ market tomatoes to use. This soup, from my favorite low fat Indian cookbook by Husain and Kanani, has a little heat to it because of the black pepper. If you want it milder, use less.  Also, when I make it again, I think I will cut the oil down to 1 teaspoon. It would bring the fat grams down to about 1/serving, and I actually found it a bit oily. And, it says to puree it in a food processor, which did not make a completely smooth soup. I rather like the slight texture, but I think if you pureed it in 2 batches in a blender it would be smoother.  This was almost too much liquid for the food processor, and began seeping out and made a mess.

Tomato and Coriander Soup

1 ½ lbs tomatoes, peeled and chopped (see Note)
1Tablespoon oil
1 bay leaf
4 spring onions, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh coriander (cilantro)
3 cups water
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
Non-fat sour cream or yogurt to garnish

In a large saucepan, heat the oil and fry the tomatoes, bay leaf, and spring onion for a few minutes until soft. Gradually add the salt, garlic, pepper, coriander, and water. Simmer uncovered over low heat for 12-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, dissolve the cornstarch in a little cold water to form a creamy paste. Remove the soup from the heat and allow to cool a bit. Puree in a food processor.

Return the soup to the pan and add the cornstarch mixture. Stir over medium low heat for about 3 minutes until slightly thickened. Makes 4 servings  at about 3.5 grams of fat/serving

NOTE: To peel tomatoes, plunge them in very hot water for a few minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly. The skin will peel off easily.


Lentil Soup with Greens

My garden has gone crazy. The tomatoes and corn are making progress but the various greens have grown faster than I can eat them.

I have been picking them daily, and giving away sackfuls.

I have salad greens – mixed lettuces growing at the foot of the corn:

I have escarole:

I have Pak Choy:

But most of all, I have a forest of turnip greens.

I need to thin them and eat them so the turnips can grow without being squished,

I decided to make soup to put in the freezer for lunches.  This soup is rather plain. When I ate the first bowl, I wound up adding some ground horseradish to give the soup a bit of kick. You might want to add some hot pepper sauce to the mix – although I think that having it a little plain lets me doctor it to suit my tastes when I eat it.

Lentil Soup with Greens

1 3/4 cups dried brown lentils
2 quarts water
1 cup diced carrot
1 3/4 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 parsley sprigs
2 bay leaves
3 cups chopped onion
1 teaspoon ground cumin
6 cups torn turnip greens (or chard or any other greens you like)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Plain nonfat yogurt  (to garnish)

Sort and wash the lentils. Combine lentils, water, and next 7 ingredients (water through onion) in a large Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until tender.


Add the cumin. Discard bay leaves and parsley. Add the greens to soup; simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes or until greens are tender. Remove soup from heat. Stir in juice and pepper. soup into each of 6 bowls; top each serving with yogurt. Makes 6 servings at about 1 gram of fat/serving.

Leprechaun Soup

Every St. Patrick’s Day I fall prey to the desire to make corned beef and cabbage. I choose a nice corned beef brisket and set to the task of cooking it.  Despite the fact that I cut away all visible fat, and simmer and drain it several times, it is still greasy – and I inevitably get sick from eating it. It also never tastes as good as I remember it from my mother’s kitchen.

So this year I decided to make something a little healthier. I suppose this recipe, originally from American Profile, is “Leprechaun” because of its green color, and the corn represents the leprechaun’s gold, although I prefer my gold in 24 karat bars. No leprechauns were damaged in its making.

The soup is rather light, more of an appetizer  than a meal soup, although with a nice wedge of Irish soda bread it would make a nice lunch.  This also gave me a chance to use the new toy I got myself for Christmas – a mighty  immersion blender.  I plan to do a lot more with it in the future.

Leprechaun Soup

3 tablespoons butter
1 (10-ounce) package frozen green peas, thawed (They seem to only have 16 ounce packages of frozen peas now, so I weighed out 10 ounces from the bag.)
1 medium head Boston lettuce, chopped (I used the remains of a bag of butter lettuce – which had a few leaves of red butter lettuce in it)
4 green onions, chopped (green and white parts)
5 cups lower-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 (15-ounce) can corn kernels, drained
1/4 teaspoon salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
Non-fat sour cream

Melt butter in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add peas, lettuce and green onions. Cook until onions are translucent, stirring frequently.

Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until peas are tender, about 8 minutes. Working in 1-cup batches, purée mixture in a blender. Return puréed mixture to the pan. (Otherwise, stick your immersion blender in the pan and whirl away – it’s much easier.) Add corn and cook over medium-high heat 2 to 3 minutes, until thoroughly heated. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into individual serving bowls and top each serving with a tablespoon or so of  sour cream. Makes 5 servings at about 6.5 grams of fat/serving.

I forgot to put in the dollop of sour cream before I took the photo – and we all know that everything is better with a dollop of sour cream.


Dijon Chicken Stew

When you are eating low fat, you wind up eating a lot of chicken breasts. It’s inevitable.  Fortunately, chicken breasts are rather “neutral” and can be made in a lot of interesting ways, from breaded chicken fingers to curries. But I am always looking for something new to do with them so I don’t get bored. This is a very tasty way to make chicken that is a little different. The sauce is rather brothy, so much so that I plan to experiment with the recipe to create a soup. I had a bit of trouble finding escarole – maybe because it is winter. You could probably use another kind of greens, but escarole has the right crunch. The original recipe was from Eating Well, and I reduced the amount of olive oil to lower the fat a bit. It reheated well for lunch, but I’m not sure it would freeze well because the greens might lose their texture, which is a big part of the charm of the dish.  I served it with a nice crusty bread.  Warning – this is VERY garlicky – which I loved, and was one of the real attractions of the stew.  But if you’re not a garlic fan, you might try to reduce the garlic by half. Don’t eliminate it though. Garlic is one of the  flavors that make this stew special.
Dijon Chicken Stew
1/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup sliced shallots
1/4 cup chopped garlic
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried (I don’t like rosemary – I used marjoram and I think you could use which ever herb is your favorite.)
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
8 cups chopped escarole (1 medium head)
1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Whisk water, mustard and cornstarch in a small bowl; set aside.
Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large pan over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and rosemary (or other herb); cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add wine, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine is almost evaporated, 5 to 6 minutes.
Add chicken, escarole and broth. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk the cornstarch mixture and add to the pot. Bring the stew to a boil and cook for 1 minute or until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper.  Makes 4 servings @ 3.5 grams of fat/serving.

Ginger Pumpkin Tomato Soup

It is still cold, and to add insult to injury, it is snowing.  After I made six pounds of buffalo pot roast this morning to fill my freezer (and heat my kitchen), I decided to make more soup – the overall cure for cold and snowy weather. I had canned pumpkin left over from an earlier project, so that became the basis of my recipe search. This soup was a reader contribution to American Profile (another of those magazines that gets tucked into print newspapers).   Although the ingredients seemed a bit odd together, I did have them all in the house, and it was quick to make. I minced my onion and celery in the food processor, which gave them a nice texture in the soup. Also, since I had already used the processor, I just reused it to puree the stewed tomatoes.

The soup is quite thick and has some texture. It was really good with a dollop or two of non-fat sour cream in it (Everything is good with a dollop of sour cream!). I ate it for dinner tonight, packed one container to take for lunch this week, and the rest are carefully packed and labeled in the freezer for other cold days which, no doubt, are yet to come.

Ginger Pumpkin Tomato Soup

2 Tablespoons butter

1 1/2 cups minced yellow onion

1 cup minced celery

3/4 teaspoon dried ginger

1 14 ounce can of chicken or vegetable broth

1 (14-ounce) can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes

2 cups (or a 15 ounce can if you’re not using up leftovers) pumpkin purée

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Non-fat sour cream

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or heavy skillet over medium heat (I used my ever-present big wok). Add the onions and celery. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are softened (and your kitchen smells warms and delicious.) Sprinkle the dried ginger on top, and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the broth, and bring to a low boil, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, purée the canned tomatoes (with the juice) in a blender or food processor. Stir the tomatoes and the pumpkin into the broth mixture, and simmer covered for about 20 minutes. If the soup is too thick, add more broth or a little water. Season with pepper, and garnish with sour cream. Makes 6 servings at about 3.5 grams of fat/serving.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

I woke up the other day expecting a much-hyped snow storm, and it was bright and sunny outside. Nary a flake of snow graced the weeds outside my window. It was, however, only 6 degrees F.  This is entirely unreasonable.

Time to make more soup. It warms the kitchen when cooking and warms you when you eat it. This mushroom soup, originally from Eating Well, is nice and thick. I used a mix of mushrooms: cremini (which now seem to be called “baby bellas”), a portabella, and some button mushrooms.

I expect it would be just as good with only one kind of mushroom – whatever is economical to buy. When I first tasted the soup it seemed like it was too dilly, but the next day it was great.  The flavors were complex and satisfying. It pays to use Hungarian paprika (not the hot kind) because it delivers a fuller, richer flavor than regular paprika.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, diced
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons paprika, preferably Hungarian
2 Tablespoons dried dill
4 cups mushroom broth or reduced-sodium beef broth (I used mushroom broth)
2 cups non-fat milk
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup non-fat sour cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
I halved the larger mushrooms before I sliced them.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or other large pan over medium-high heat. (I make everything in my big flat-bottomed wok.) Add mushrooms and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates, 10 to 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are very soft, about 3 minutes more. Add flour, paprika and dill and cook, stirring, for 15 seconds. Add broth, milk and potatoes; cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a lively simmer and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in sour cream and salt. Makes 6 servings at 4 grams of fat/serving.

Fresh Tomato Minestrone Soup

The tomatoes are still coming on strong, but the nip in the air once the sun goes down tells me that it’s soup making weather. I still have a lot of produce coming out of the garden, although the plants themselves are starting to look rather tired.

Minestrone means “big soup”. It is one of the cornerstones of Italian cuisine, and no doubt thrifty Italian housewives did as I did – used whatever vegetables were in season. Minestrone ranges from thick and dense to a more broth-like soup with large quantities of diced and lightly cooked vegetables. It typically has beans in it, and sometimes includes meat or pasta.
This soup used up all the little roma tomatoes, although I expect when I go out tomorrow morning there will be more of them.

This is not a heavy soup. It is more on the broth with vegetables side. You could easily add some pieces of chicken to the soup, or some pasta or sprinkle on a couple of tablespoons of parmesan cheese, as long as you accounted for the fat grams. I have been sprinkling 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan over the soup when I eat it – for an additional 4 grams of fat/serving.

Fresh Tomato Minestrone

1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 or 5 sprigs of mixed fresh herbs. You could use rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram – what ever you like best
4 parsley sprigs
2-3 leeks, white and light green parts only, thoroughly cleaned and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium zucchini or yellow squash (or half of each for color), diced
1 carrot, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 can of cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1 pound diced roma tomatoes
1/2 cup thinly sliced green beans

In a large pot over medium-low heat, heat the oil. Tie herbs and parsley in a bundle with kitchen string if desired (this makes it easier to fish out later). Add the herbs, leeks, garlic, zucchini or yellow squash, carrot, salt and pepper to the pot and sauté until the vegetables are golden, 10 to 15 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add broth, beans, tomatoes, green beans and 4 cups water to the pot. Simmer partly covered 45-60 minutes. Discard herbs. Thin with a little water if the soup is too thick.  Makes 6 servings at 3 grams of fat/serving.

Mulligatawny Soup

It rained yesterday – the kind of straight down, all day soaking rain under grey cloudy skies that chills you to the bone even if you are in the house. Cooking soup is a wonderful activity for cold, rainy days.  There is something comforting about sitting at the kitchen table with the gentle bubbling sounds of soup simmering on the stove, and the smells of cooking onions and spices filling the warm kitchen air.  And of course, a bowl of hot soup on a blustery day feeds the soul as well as the stomach.  I’ve already made a big pot of bean soup, freezing most of it for future meals.  I decided to try Mulligatawny soup, which I have eaten, but never made.

Mulligatawny is a mildly curry-flavored soup of Anglo-Indian origin. Translated literally from Tamil, “Mulligatawny” means “pepper water”. Despite the name, however, pepper itself is not a vital ingredient. I never actually had anything like Mulligatawny soup in India. I expect it is actually a British interpretation of some Indian dish, made milder for the Western palate.  Mulligatawny soup found its way into American cookery well before the Civil War. It appeared in the original Fannie Farmer cookbook of 1896.

There are many variations of the recipe for Mulligatawny soup.  Sometimes, the soup has a turmeric-like yellow color and is rather thick and creamy. That is the way I have experienced it in restaurants. I decided to modify the rather simple recipe in my Fannie Farmer Cookbook, which makes what I would call a thick, mildly curried, chicken vegetable soup.

Mulligatawny Soup

2 Tablespoons butter
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 green pepper, deveined and diced
1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 cup (about 1 pound) raw chicken breast, diced
1/3 cup flour
1-2 teaspoons curry powder
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
5 cups non-fat chicken broth
2 sprigs parley, chopped (I used dried parsley)
1 14 ounce can chopped tomatoes, lightly drained
2 cups cooked rice
Freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add the onion, carrot, celery, green pepper, apple, and chicken.  Cook over medium low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix flour with curry powder and nutmeg, add to the pot, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the broth, parsley, and tomatoes.  Partially cover and simmer for about 1 hour. Stir once in a while to make sure it doesn’t stick.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon some cooked rice into the bowl when serving the soup. (I did this the first time, and then mixed the remaining rice into the soup for later servings.)  This makes 6 servings of soup at about 5 grams of fat/serving.


Variation: There are many recipes for Mulligatawny Soup that have more ingredients and elaborate preparation. I chose the Fannie Farmer version because her recipes tend to be simple and doable. Most recipes seem to add cubed potatoes, which I think would be an admirable addition. I think you could easily add a few other vegetables as well (peas come to mind, although I’m not terribly fond of them). Other recipes add turmeric for a pronounced yellow color. I ate a bowl of the soup with a dollop of yogurt in it, which was quite good. This soup is not particularly spicy-hot, so those who want heat can add more black pepper, or a splash or two of hot sauce.

Matzo Balls

Lest you think that Passover cooking was over after my big at-home feast, don’t be silly.  I volunteered, again, to make matzo balls to put in the soup for the community seder for our congregation.  That’s about 210 matzo balls.  So I spent Saturday morning with two giant pots boiling away, instead of sleeping in.


My mother and her sisters used to argue about whose matzo balls were the most feathery and light (there are some people who like them firm and chewy – a shondana as mother would have said. Aren’t you ashamed to have made such leaden matzo balls!)  So I learned the secret of fluffy matzo balls – seltzer.  But I wanted matzo balls that were not only light, as in fluffy, but light as in low fat.  So a few years ago, I began tinkering with the family recipe.  First I switched the melted chicken fat to canola oil. This also made them vegetarian, which was a handy improvement.  Then I reduced the amount of oil to 1 tablespoon.  Next, I replaced 3 of the eggs with egg substitute.   Now the matzo balls are light nutritionally as well as in the sense my mother demanded.

One of the reasons to lighten up the matzo balls was that, although the traditional way of serving them is in soup, I like leftover matzo balls for breakfast, cut in half and heated in a frying pan coated with cooking spray. Drenched with maple syrup, they’re so good.  And they’re not too shabby if you cut them in half and sprinkle them with some garlic power and/or other seasonings before you reheat them.  They make a good side dish.  They are, after all, a form of dumplings.

I realize this is too late for Passover this year, but save the recipe for next year.  Or just make them for the heck of it – they’re good any time of year.  Why restrict them to a holiday.

Matzo Balls

1Tablespoon canola oil
1 large egg
¾ cup egg substitute
1 cup matzo meal
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup seltzer

Mix oil, egg, egg substitute and salt together in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until well blended.  Add the matzo meal and beat with the mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gently fold in the seltzer until everything is well incorporated. Be sure your seltzer is reasonably fresh and has some bubble to it.  Flat seltzer makes for lead matzo balls.  The batter will foam up as you mix it.  Cover the bowl and put it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.  Bring a large pot of water to a full boil. Reduce to a medium boil. Form matzo batter into balls a bit smaller than golf balls. I do this by scooping up a bit of the batter with the tips of my fingers and rolling it in my palms so there won’t be raggedy edges.  This often requires occasional hand washing to keep your hands from getting too gooey.  But homemade matzo balls don’t need to be perfectly shaped, so don’t over roll them.  Your matzo balls may look a bit small, but here is where the fluffy happens. Drop the matzo balls in boiling water as you make them. They will sink to the bottom of the pot and in a few moments they will rise to the surface of the water, doubled in size. Fluffy! Cover the pot and cook for 40 minutes.  Remove the matzo balls from the pot with a slotted spoon.   This makes about 16 matzo balls with one gram of fat each.

See, they’re a little rough around the edges, but they’re fluffy.


I almost always make a double recipe so I have leftovers – Even when I’m making a large quantity, I never make more than a double recipe.  I’m not sure the seltzer would work well in a bigger batch and, besides, 32 is about the maximum my big pot can hold at any one time.  So I just make repeated batches.

If you are going to store them for a day or so, drain them on the counter and let them cool:

Matzo Ball Production Zone


They actually keep well for a day or two in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container.  I also have been told that you can freeze them, but I’ve never tried it.  The traditional way to serve matzo balls in chicken soup (or vegetarian broth).  To serve, bring your soup to a boil, reduce the heat, and put the matzo balls into the soup to reheat for about 20 minutes.  Serve in bowls with one or two matzo balls in each bowl of soup.


Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Soup

This is soup for two people. It is quite garlicky, so if there are two of you, both of you should eat it.  It is not a soup I would take to the office to reheat, lest my co-workers keel over either from the smell of reheating or my breath. That being said, it’s actually a pretty good and warming soup

I confess that when I first tasted it, I didn’t really like it.  But I added some ground sea salt, and that perked up the flavor.  The original recipe came from Cooking Light. If I make it again, I might put in more pepper and vinegar.  I ate this for dinner with a side of sliced tomatoes and a couple of slices of olive bread and a Laughing Cow cheese wedge.

Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Soup

1 (1-pound) eggplant, cut in half lengthwise
Cooking spray
10 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 teaspoon  coriander seeds
½ teaspoon  cumin seeds
2 teaspoons  olive oil
1 cup  chopped onion
¼ teaspoon  black pepper (or to taste
1½  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
¼ cup  water
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can vegetable broth
1 Tablespoon  balsamic vinegar (or to taste)
Salt to taste
2  Tablespoons  plain non-fat yogurt or sour cream

Preheat oven to 450°.

Place eggplant, cut sides down, in a baking pan coated with cooking spray; add garlic. Bake at 450° for 30 minutes or until eggplant is tender; cool. Scrape pulp from eggplant skins; discard skins. Squeeze cloves to extract garlic pulp; discard skins.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add coriander, cumin, onion, and pepper; cook 5 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Add flour; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add water and vegetable broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cool 5 minutes.

Combine eggplant pulp, garlic pulp, and broth mixture in a blender, and process until smooth. Return the pureed mixture to pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in balsamic vinegar and salt. Ladle soup into  2 bowls. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon yogurt or sour cream.  Makes 2 servings with about 6 grams of fat/serving.



I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

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