It's hearty, homemade, ready in under an hour

READY, SET, SIMMER

January 06, 1993|By Eating WellUnited Feature Syndicate

A bowl of good soup brims with the message of soun nutrition. Soup has it all: vitamins, minerals, protein, complex carbohydrates. With the exception of cream soups, most soups are not high in fat to begin with, and much of the fat they do contain can be skimmed off the surface after simmering. Any one of the following hearty soups, if accompanied by a slice or two of whole-grain bread, will provide more than enough protein to anchor a hearty meal.

Recipes containing grains, potatoes or beans -- such as escarole and rice soup with chicken, or Portuguese potato and kale soup -- provide complex carbohydrates. Cooking fresh vegetables in soup broth helps to preserve their nutrients. If that is not enough, the delicious warmth of soup just makes you feel good.

So why don't we make soup more often? Old cookbooks agreed that good soup depended upon good stock -- homemade stock that would have taken many hours to prepare. Such a formula is not always realistic for today's cook. In developing these recipes, Eating Well magazine's Test Kitchen used canned chicken stock for a soup base. The cooking time was cut by hours, and our tasters never felt that flavor was compromised. All of these soups are ready in well under an hour. The recipes were designed to yield 1 1/2 -cup portions, enough for a main-course serving.

Louisiana gumbo

You can capture the depth of flavor of the traditional Creole "brown roux" with much less fat by toasting the flour first. Serves 4.

1/4 cup all-purpose white flour

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

1 large green bell pepper, diced

1 stalk celery, minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups defatted reduced-sodium chicken stock

1 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped

10 okra pods, trimmed and cut into 1/2 -inch-long pieces (1 cup)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup long-grain white rice

6 ounce medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh meat, trimmed of fat and membrane and cut into 1/2 -inch pieces

2 ounces andouille or kielbasa sausage, thinly sliced

salt to taste

Louisiana hot sauce or Tabasco to taste

Heat a heavy cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the flour turns a deep golden color. Transfer the flour to a plate and let cool. (There will be a strong aroma similar to burnt toast. Be careful not to let the flour burn; reduce the heat if flour seems to be browning too quickly.) Alternately, toast the flour in a pie plate in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.

In a heavy stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, green peppers, celery and garlic; saute for about 7 minutes, or until the onions are lightly browned. Stir in the toasted flour. Gradually stir in chicken stock and bring to a simmer, stirring. Add tomatoes, okra, pepper, thyme, oregano, cayenne and bay leaf. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in rice and cook, covered, for 15 minutes longer. Add shrimp, chicken and sausage; simmer for 5 minutes longer, or until the shrimp is opaque inside, the chicken is no longer pink and the rice is tender. Discard the bay leaf and season with salt. Ladle into bowls and serve with Louisiana hot sauce or Tabasco.

Per serving: 362 calories; 22 grams protein; 10 grams fat; 39 grams carbohydrate; 411 milligrams sodium; 92 milligrams cholesterol.

Escarole and rice soup with chicken

Escarole's peppery bitterness adds the necessary bite to what otherwise would be a rather ordinary soup. Serve with warm, crusty Italian bread. Serves 6.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 head escarole, trimmed, washed and thinly sliced

7 cups defatted reduced-sodium chicken stock

1/2 cup arborio or other short-grain rice

3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat and membrane and cut into 1/2 -inch cubes

1 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained, seeded and chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoon grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese

In a heavy stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden. Add escarole and 1 cup stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in the remaining 6 cups stock and bring to a simmer. Add rice and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add chicken and tomatoes and cook, covered, for 5 minutes longer, or until the rice is tender and the chicken is no longer pink inside. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with cheese.

Per serving: 217 calories; 16 grams protein; 6 grams fat; 19 grams carbohydrate; 187 milligrams sodium; 35 milligrams cholesterol.

Portuguese potato and kale soup

For a satisfying winter supper, serve this peasant soup with chewy Portuguese corn bread called broa. Collard or mustard greens can be substituted for the kale. Serves 8.

6 ounces chorizo sausage, cut in half lengthwise and sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

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