Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pantry Leftovers

I was joking with T yesterday about how you could really tell we were from Florida.  After two weeks of cool weather (hmm...60s) we've already pulled out jackets and long pants while most of our neighbors are still in shorts and T-shirts.  I find myself fighting the cat for the sunny spots in the house - I think he is winning.


Soup and stews will soon become our winter time staples.  I like my soups on the thicker side because I find them hardy and more filling.  I do this by adding veggies (the greener the better), and whole grains.  Bulking up on high fiber keeps you fuller longer.

I read an interesting article on AP News by Jim Romanoff recently that echoed the same sentiment:
"Low-fat soups, especially varieties that are loaded with nutrient-rich vegetables, are an excellent way to go if you’re looking to lose fat. They are both filling and low in calories.  Vegetables, besides being loaded with vitamins and minerals, primarily consist of water and fiber, which help to curb hunger.
And if you add grains, such as rice or whole-wheat pasta, you get lots of soluble dietary fiber, which have been shown to be appetite-satisfying, while also helping the body maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Low-fat proteins, such as white-meat chicken and turkey, tofu, low-fat cheese and yogurt, also help to fill you up. Beans and other legumes, such as lentils, are an excellent source of both rib-sticking protein and fiber. "

I have been working on cleaning out my pantry and cooking what I have on hand.  If you know me, you know that I don't like to waste food at all.  If I have a small amount of grain or dried beans - I save it to incorporate into something.  I'm not sure if it was mom who trained me not to waste or if it was living in a war torn country that naturally trained you to hang on to everything.   I found that I had 1/4 cup of whole wheat egg noodles, 3 tablespoons of pearl/Israeli couscous lurking in my cupboards.  In my fridge, I had a quarter of a bell pepper, a cup of arugula, a few sprigs thyme, two carrots, one rib of celery, onions, garlic and one chicken breast.  Since I cleaned out my fridge for this soup I called it "Leftover Soup" for lack of creativity.  Do you have any suggestions on what this soup should be called?  email me and let me know.

Left Over Soup

Ingredients:

1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1-2 cups greens such as (spinach, arugula, or swiss chard)
1 small bell pepper (any color)
1 rib celery chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1-2 small chicken breast (uncooked), chopped - feel free to use pork, beef or whatever you have on hand
1/4 cup whole wheat noodles (again use what you have on hand)
3 tablespoons pearl couscous
2 sprigs Thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 carton or 32 oz. stock - veggie, chicken, turkey
1 can beans (your choice - I used navy beans)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon of chili flakes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Romano Cheese and basil - for garnish (optional)

Method:

Heat a medium sized stock pot on medium heat.  Add olive oil - allow to heat for 30 seconds.  Toss in garlic, onions and chili flakes if using- cook for a minute to allow the garlic to flavor the oil.  Add the remaining veggies and thyme.  Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the veggies have softened.  Add the stock and simmer for 3-5 minutes.  Toss in chicken pieces, couscous, noodles, beans (rinsed and drained please).  Cook on low for 15-20 minutes.

Ladle into bowls, top with cheese and basil.  Enjoy!



*Cooks TIP* this soup yields 4 healthy portions.  To jazz up your soup the next day - add a dollop of pesto or sun dried tomatoes and garlic paste.

*Eliminate the chicken and substitute with small dices of tofu or portobello mushrooms.

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