Soup, Salad, and No Breadsticks

In American, Beans, Salad, Soup, Vegetables on January 18, 2012 at 11:08 pm

If any of you have every been to the Olive Garden, you know that the only self-respecting menu decision is the soup, salad, and breadsticks option.  Although the breadsticks are amazingly warm, garlicky, and oily, they can certainly pile on the calories to a seemingly healthy lunch.  But hey, it’s still better than whatever meat and cheese stuffed pasta topped with cream sauce lies on the other side of the page.

This post is not about the Olive Garden, nor is it about Italian cuisine (if you could dare to even place the former and latter in the same sentence).  This is just a simple way to grab your attention as I unveil another winter dinner of soup and salad.  Trust me, you won’t regret the transition.

One of Nick’s favorite soups is broccoli cheddar.  My version is a little different than a typical cup you’d get at Subway or Hale & Hearty.  For one, I don’t use any milk or cream.  Another difference is my use of low fat cheese and vegetable broth, instead of full fat and chicken broth.  Mine may not be as rich, but it certainly is as flavorful, and even more delicious.  Especially since it’s light enough to stomach more than 2 spoonfuls.  Like any good soup, I start out with a mirepoix of carrot, celery, and onion.

The next step, which is probably the most critical, is to chop up both the stems and florets of a large bunch of broccoli.  Normally stems are thrown away, but they contain a lot of nutrients and strong flavors which enhance the quality of the soup.

After adding the broccoli to the pot, I poured in a quart of vegetable broth and a quart of water.

To thicken up the soup, I added some defrosted chickpeas (leftover from when I made falafel).

I let the soup get to a boil, then reduced to a simmer and covered to cook for about 20 minutes.  During that time I prepared a simple salad of tomato, cucumber, pepper, celery, and avocado.

Then I added in some chopped romaine, and mixed everything up with fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper, onion, and garlic powder.

The last ingredient in the soup was cheddar cheese.  I grated 2 ounces of low fat organic cheddar to sprinkle in before turning the burner off.

The cheese turns the soup into a more yellowish green color.

The final step was to blend the soup with an emersion blender.

When everything was blended to a smooth consistency, yet still speckled with broccoli pieces, soup was on!

Usually broccoli cheddar is white or cream hued, probably because of the white milk or cream cream that is often added.  Since my version used yellowish brown vegetable broth, it rendered a yellowish-brown soup.  I know, shocking.  What was even more shocking was just how delicious this soup could be without all the added fat and calories.  With all those savings, you could have another bowl.  Or a breadstick.  Your choice.

What are some of your calorie and fat saving tips?


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