Cold-weather friend Warm and hearty: Now is the winter of our content with the contents of the soup pot.

January 03, 1996|By Tina Danze | Tina Danze,DALLAS MORNING NEWS

It's soup weather out there. Whether it's a creamy vegetable-based opener or a hearty entree, homemade soup evokes the warmth of the hearth, the glow of an early evening sunset.

A favorite soup for chef Katie Schma is smoked butternut squash soup. The blend of squash, apples, carrots, onions and chicken stock "tastes just like what it sounds like -- buttery," she says. Although she smokes the squash for the restaurant version, the soup still has plenty of flavor without this step.

"The apples and carrots give it sweetness," she says, noting that the soup has a lovely golden color, indicating it's rich in beta carotene.

"Serving soup is an enticing way to make people get more vegetables in their diet," says Georgia Kostas, a registered dietitian.

"Drinking the soup broth ensures you retain the nutrients that seep out of [the soup's] vegetables" in the cooking, she says. These nutrients are lost when vegetables are cooked in water, then drained before serving.

Adding leftover vegetables to soups uses them up and boosts the soup's nutritional benefits even more, she says. Adding a can of drained beans increases the soup's fiber.

And some soups are nearly a meal in themselves. Chicken and root vegetable soup, with its diced potatoes, parsnips and carrots, needs only a side of crusty, whole-grain bread and perhaps a salad.

Easy chili bean soup, with a spicy broth reminiscent of tortilla soup, makes a good companion to corn bread. With canned pintos and chicken stock, it can be ready in 40 minutes.

Easy chili bean soup

Makes 6 servings

2 tablespoons oil

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped fine

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 (14 1/2 -ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (10 3/4 -ounce) can tomato puree

2 quarts chicken stock

2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, drained

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 bay leaves

In a soup kettle or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, jalapeno and garlic and saute until onion softens and becomes translucent. Add canned tomatoes and puree. Simmer minute, then add chicken stock, pintos, cumin, chili powder and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 to 30 minutes.

For a richer and even heartier soup, add an extra can of pintos and garnish with grated cheese.

Per serving: 357 calories; 8 g fat; 1 mg cholesterol; 350 mg sodium; 18 percent calories from fat

Chicken and root vegetable soup

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut in 1/2 -inch cubes

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/4 -inch cubes, then placed in cold water

1 medium white turnip, peeled and cut in 1/4 -inch cubes

1/2 pound carrots, peeled and cut in 1/4 -inch cubes

1 parsnip, scraped and cut in 1/4 -inch cubes

2 large leeks, white part only, washed and finely diced

5 cups chicken broth

salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, heat butter or margarine. Cook onion, stirring, until it wilts.

Add chicken and stir. Drain potatoes and add to chicken and onions, along with the turnip, carrots, parsnip and leek; cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add broth, salt and pepper; bring soup to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover and simmer 30 minutes.

Per serving: 374 calories; 8 g fat; 104 mg cholesterol; 924 mg sodium; 20 percent calories from fat

Butternut squash and carrot soup

Makes 6 servings

2 large butternut squash

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped

1 1/2 large yellow onions, finely chopped

3 shallots, minced

2 tablespoons minced garlic

ground cardamom to taste

8 cups water

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups heavy cream

chopped chives

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Bake skin-side-down for about 30 minutes, or until flesh is soft. Scoop flesh out of skins.

In a large saucepan, heat oil. When hot, add carrots, apples, onions, shallots, garlic and cardamom. Cook 2 minutes; add squash. Add water, bring to boil; lower heat and simmer 45 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Puree soup in batches in food processor or blender. (Keep the batches small to prevent hot splatters.) Pour pureed soup back in saucepan, add cream and correct seasoning. Garnish with chopped chives.

Per serving: 512 calories; 40 g fat; 112 mg cholesterol; 443 mg sodium; 67 percent calories from fat

Carrot soup

Makes 6 servings

3 small onions, chopped

3 tablespoons butter or olive oil

4 1/2 cups thinly sliced carrots

3 ribs celery, sliced

1/4 cup uncooked rice

3/4 cup white wine

6 cups chicken broth

8 tablespoons low-fat milk (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan over moderately low heat, saute onion in butter or oil, stirring until soft. Add carrot, celery and rice and cook 1 more minute, stirring. Add wine and cook for 1 minute. Add broth and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until rice is tender.

In a blender or food processor, puree the mixture in batches; return to saucepan. Stir in the milk if desired, or additional broth if soup is too thick. Add salt and pepper to taste, heat through.

Per serving: 178 calories; 8 g fat; 17 mg cholesterol; 885 mg sodium; 38 percent calories from fat

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