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Table Talk: Simmering soups warm a winter day

Reed Robinson
Chipotle chiles in adobe sauce add smoky heat to Chicken Enchilada Soup. A dollop of sour cream soothes the palate.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Campbells is right. Soup is good food, especially when the weather is cold and dreary. It's definitely soup season. As I searched for some healthy twists on old favorites, I hit one of my favorite websites,

Gina Homolka is the author, recipe developer and photographer of Skinnytaste, which features low-fat, family-friendly and healthy recipes. Her Crock-Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup and Escarole Soup with Turkey Meatballs caught my eye.

I converted the Crock pot Chicken Enchilada Soup to a stovetop version simply by omitting the crock pot step in the directions. The recipe contains most of the ingredients for chicken enchiladas, minus the corn tortillas, which could be sprinkled on the top in the form of crumbled  tortilla chips if they're missed too much. I used about the amount of chipotle chile  that she recommended and thought the smoky heat was just right.

 Homolka slimmed down another classic soup, Italian Wedding Soup. Despite its name, the soup is not necessarily served at Italian weddings. The moniker refers to the "marriage" of greens and meat. Homolka's version looked easy to make, and both light and hearty. A winning combination.

Two of my favorite "Cooking Light" soup recipes are Baked Potato Soup and Hearty Vegetable Soup with Beef. The potato soup contains everything you love about a baked potato: sour cream, cheddar, bacon and chives, all for about 325 calories per 1 1/2-cup serving. I admit I don't usually stop at one bowl, so my caloric intake is higher, but that really isn't the recipe's fault.

My family first tasted the Hearty Vegetable Soup with Beef during a weekend stay with a friend who is an excellent cook. I think the step in which garlic, vertically sliced onions and tomato paste are stirred and cooked together adds a tasty depth to the soup. Because my family contains some devoted carnivores, I double the amount of beef listed in the recipe. I guess that makes it Hearty Beef Soup with Vegetables.

Finally, I offer Crab Bisque with Avocado Relish. I received a good quality food processor for Christmas and wanted to put it to the test. I've managed to break the flimsy plastic locking devices on two of the less expensive food processors I purchased recently, so this time we kicked the purchase up a price notch.

The soup is a little pricey with crab and yellow pepper in the ingredient list, but its silky texture, delicate pink color and sweet crab flavor make an elegant and enticing foil to the fresh avocado relish on top.

Whichever recipe you choose, the inviting smell of simmering soup lures everyone out of the cold and says welcome home.

Reach Julie Robinson at or 304-348-1230.


Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup   

2                  teaspoons olive oil

1/2               cup onion, chopped

3                  cloves garlic, minced

3                   cups low sodium fat-free chicken broth

1                   8-ounce can tomato sauce

1-2                teaspoons of a can of chipotle chile in adobo sauce (or more to taste)

1/4                cup chopped cilantro (plus more for garnish)

 1                   15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

1                    14.5-ounce can petite diced tomatoes

2                    cups frozen corn

1                    teaspoon cumin

1/2                 teaspoon dried oregano

2                    8-ounce skinless chicken breasts

1/4                 cup chopped scallions, for topping

3/4                 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese

Fat free sour cream (optional)

HEAT oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft, 3-4 minutes. Slowly add the chicken broth, tomato sauce and chipotle chile in adobo sauce and bring to a boil. Add cilantro.

ADD drained beans, diced tomatoes, corn, cumin, oregano to saucepan and stir. Add the chicken breasts; cover and cook on low heat for 4-6 hours.

REMOVE chicken and shred with two forks. Add chicken back into the soup, adjust salt and cumin to taste. Serve in bowls and top with fat free sour cream, cheese, scallions and cilantro. Diced avocado or crushed tortilla chips are also tasty toppings.

Nutritional analysis per 1 1/2 cup soup, plus cheese: Calories 260, Fat 6.6g, Protein 25.4g, Carbohydrates 29.9g, Fiber 6.7g,  Sugar 4.1g, Sodium 572 mg (without salt.)



Escarole Soup with Turkey Meatballs

20               ounces ground turkey breast 99% lean

1/4              cup seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs

1/4              cup parmesan cheese

1/4              cup parsley, finely chopped

1                 large egg

1/4              cup onion, minced

1                 clove garlic, minced

1                 teaspoon kosher salt

8                 cups fat-free chicken broth

1                 head escarole, chopped

Fresh pepper

1/2              cup orzo

@recipe hed:HEAT chicken broth in a large bowl, over medium heat, covered.

COMBINE ground turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, onion, garlic, salt and cheese in a large bowl. Using your hands, mix all the ingredients well until everything is combined. Form small meatballs, about 1-inch in diameter.

WHEN broth comes to a boil, drop the meatballs in, add the orzo and chopped escarole. Add fresh pepper; cook about 10 minutes or until orzo is done.

Nutritional analysis per 1/5 of recipe: Calories: 241, Fat 4.3g, Carbohydrates 19.6, Fiber 1.3g,  Protein 29.9g



Baked Potato Soup

4                 (6-ounce) red potatoes

2                 teaspoons olive oil

1/2              cup chopped onion

1 1/4           cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth

3                 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2                 cups 1% low-fat milk, divided

1/4              cup reduced-fat sour cream

1/2              teaspoon salt

1/4              teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3                 bacon slices, halved

1/3              cup shredded cheddar cheese

4                 teaspoons thinly sliced green onions

PIERCE potatoes with a fork. Microwave on HIGH 13 minutes or until tender. Cut in half; cool slightly.

HEAT oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add broth. Combine flour and 1/2 cup milk; add to pan with 1 1/2 cups milk. Bring to a boil; stir often. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream, salt, and pepper.

ARRANGE bacon on a paper towel on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with a paper towel; microwave on HIGH for 4 minutes. Crumble bacon.

PEEL and discard potato skins. Coarsely mash potatoes into soup. Top with cheese, green onions and bacon.

Nutritional analysis per 1 1/4-cups soup: Calories: 325, Fat: 11.1g, Protein: 13.2g, Carbohydrate: 43.8g, Fiber: 3g, Cholesterol: 27mg, Iron: 1.3mg, Sodium: 670mg, Calcium: 261mg



Hearty Vegetable Soup with Beef

2                 14.5-ounce cans fat-free beef broth

1/2              pound lean, boned chuck roast

1                 teaspoon olive oil, divided

4                 cups vertically sliced onion

1/3              cup tomato paste

3                 garlic cloves, minced

3                 cups cubed carrots

3                 cups cubed red potatoes

2 1/2           cups quartered mushrooms

1/2              cup dry red wine

1/4              teaspoon salt

1/4              teaspoon pepper

1                 10-ounce package frozen green peas, thawed

2                 tablespoons water

1                 tablespoon cornstarch

Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

BRING beef broth to a boil in a small saucepan; turn down heat to simmer and cook 15 minutes or until reduced to 2 cups. Set aside.

TRIM fat from roast; cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef; brown on one side. Remove from pan, and set aside. Heat remaining oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, tomato paste, and garlic; cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

RETURN beef to pan. Add reduced broth, carrots, and next 6 ingredients (carrots through peas); bring to a boil.

COVER, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

COMBINE water and cornstarch in a small bowl; stir well. Add to stew. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Ladle into soup bowls; garnish with parsley, if desired.

Nutritional Information per 2-cup serving: Calories: 371, Fat: 5g, Protein: 22.6g, Carbohydrate: 59.5g, Fiber: 11.4g, Cholesterol: 34mg, Iron: 5.6mg, Sodium: 458mg, Calcium: 93mg



Crab Bisque with Avocado Relish

1                 small avocado, finely diced

1                 cup corn, thawed if frozen

1                 medium tomato, seeded and finely diced

1                 tablespoon lime juice

1/4              teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1                  tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1                  cup corn, thawed if frozen

1                  cup chopped onion

1                  cup diced yellow bell pepper

1 1/2            cups diced peeled russet potato

3/4               teaspoon sweet or hot smoked paprika, plus more for garnish

1                  cup dry sherry

2                  cups seafood stock or broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth

2                  cups low-fat milk

12                ounces crabmeat, drained if necessary

1/2               teaspoon salt

COMBINE: corn, tomato, lime juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl; toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature.

HEAT oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add corn, onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until the onion and pepper have softened, about 5 minutes. Add potato and paprika and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes.

ADD sherry and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the liquid has reduced slightly, about 5 minutes. Add stock or broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes.

WORKING in two batches, puree the vegetable mixture in a blender or food processor. Return the puree to the saucepan; stir in milk, crab and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes.

SERVE each portion of bisque with about 1/4 cup relish. Sprinkle with additional paprika, if desired.

Nutritional analysis:Per 1-cup soup and 1/4 cup relish serving: Calories 230, Fat 7g, Cholesterol 35mg, Carbohydrates 23g, Protein 16g, Fiber 4g; Sodium 441mg,  Potassium 719mg.



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