This soup is so easy to make, so tasty, and so healthy!
I’m so glad I didn’t decide to make this as a white chicken chili. To do that, I would have had to leave out two of my favorite things in a chili: chilies (duh) and tomatoes. Besides being ridiculously healthy, it’s also pretty and very tasty.
I ground my own chicken from breast meat, leaving in the little bit of fat that came with them. It’s really negligible…something on the order of a 97%/3% mix, but I think it helps with the sizzle.
I also decided to try a quick prep of the dried mayocoba beans. Typically, they’re soaked overnight, then boiled for a long time to soften. I found that I can achieve the same results in 30 minutes using a pressure cooker and enough stock to cover the beans, plus a few inches. The beans weren’t totally soft, which is what I wanted: the cooking process in the chili would finish the job.
Also, in my recent penchant for shortcuts, I decided not to devote much time to the tomatoes, and instead went with the canned variety.
This is not a very spicy soup…it’s intended for normal people who don’t want their faces burned off by the heat.
When some people want to thicken a soup, they add flour or cornstarch. Others might add milk or cream. I prefer to add more of the main ingredient: I use probably double the amount of mushrooms here compared to what you’ll see in a “normal” recipe. The sheer volume makes the soup thick without adding anything that’s bad for you. Best of all, it adds even more mushroom flavor.
I went heavy on the garlic in this recipe because I wanted to be able to taste it. This is still a very mushroom-forward dish, but the roasted garlic notes are unmistakable. Use half as much garlic if you want the garlic to be more subtle.
The sweetness of the squash works nicely with the strong flavor of the Brussels sprouts. The squash is a natural thickener, creating a thick and creamy soup that is also completely healthy.
I didn’t realize how wonderful it is to make your own stock. Besides adding a fantastic depth of flavor to whatever you use it for, stocks are easy to make and significantly cheaper than anything you can buy from the supermarket. All it will cost you is the price of a carrot, a piece of celery, half an onion, water, and seasonings for a basic stock.
With the foundation of a basic stock, you can customize the stock to be any kind of stock you want:
- Add shrimp shells to make a shrimp stock.
- Add a leftover chicken carcass (bones, meat, etc) to make a chicken stock.
- Add the leftover parts of beef bones, meat, etc) to make a beef stock.
- Add the scrapings from the gills of a portabella mushroom to make a mushroom stock.
Best of all, you can leave out salt completely if you need to control your sodium intake, and make it fat-free if you trim the things you put in the pot well enough first.
This corn chowder (or, as my relatives in Massachusetts would say “chowdah”) manages to be thick, rich, and flavorful without being high in calories. Potatoes are replaced with rutabaga, and there is so much depth from the other ingredients that it doesn’t need cream or any other thickener.
Please note that I save the one thing that most people throw away when they chop celery: the leaves. This most underrated part of the most underrated vegetable adds an incredible amount of flavor when sprinkled on top of the chowder. It also works incredibly well for gumbo or anything else that uses celery.
This one was about as close to sorcery as anything I’ve ever made. While gumbo technically can be made without a roux, it just isn’t the same. After visiting New Orleans last year, asking a lot of people, and trying a lot of gumbo, I’m convinced of that.
A roux consists of flour and oil: that’s where all the points come from here. I used 2 ounces of canola oil and 1/2 cup of flour (half of what I used before joining Weight Watchers). The rest of the thickening came from okra.
I ground my own lean chicken breast and seasoned it to make a chicken andouille sausage. This is really good by itself, so I saved some for other meals.
I also made my own stock from the shrimp shells; this is a big 0 because it was just vegetables, seasoning, and water.
The rest consists of bell peppers, onion, garlic, tomato, Serrano pepper, various seasoning, and File powder (sassafras flavoring…another gumbo requirement as far as I’m concerned).
The result is really good: it has that subtle “fried” flavor that a roux provides, but I’m comfortable enough with how healthy it is that I don’t feel bad about having seconds.
NOTE: the file powder doesn’t have any substitute, but this is still a very good gumbo without it. The fried shrimp on top of the gumbo is cornmeal-battered, and is not part of this recipe.
This is served with a piece of cornflake crusted shrimp and cauliflower rice.
This is adapted from a Thai Coconut Soup recipe I used to make, but fresh corn is used as a thickener instead of cornstarch. This also means that less of the coconut milk is needed to give it a creamy consistency. And, best of all, it’s tasty and incredibly healthy.