Chilled Beet Soup

Perfect for starting a long evening of eating and drinking. Low in calories, this modern take on borscht uses up the beets, beet green for a deep earthy flavor, that is, if you can look beyond the beautiful colors it produces. I occasionally mix and match type of beets to vary the flavor but chefs be aware: Using a combination of gold and red beets turns the soup into a muddy brown color, making it less than appetizing to the eye.

I serve this delicacy with a dollop of non-fat Greek yogurt, fresh dill and butter croutons and a splash of olive oil to complement the taste. You can use sour cream and croutons from dark rye bread as a variation. Dill remains though. It really brings out the flavors in this dish. Best to use fresh dill.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch red beets with greens intact (approximately 2 lbs)
  • 1 medium red onion, quartered
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1.5 tsp. caraway seeds (or cumin seeds)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 5 medium cloves of garlic
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 oz. baguette slices cubed (or 1-2 thick slices of good, rustic bread)
  • 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill (or few teaspoons of dried)

Makes about 8 cups and usually serves 8-10 people. Takes about 15 minutes to do the prep work (cutting, chopping). Spare another 1.5 hours for the cooking part, although it is not hands on for the most part.

Remove the beet stems and leaves. Wash the beets and the leaves well.

In a 4- to 6-quart sauce pan, combine the beets, onion, sugar, vinegar, caraway seeds and a teaspoon of salt. Add seven cups of water, cover and bring to boil over high heat. Then lower the heat to medium and cook covered, until beets are tender (when pierced with a fork), about 45 minutes to an hour.

In the meantime, very coarsely chop the stems and leaves. Once the beets are done, remove them from the pan from a slotted spoon and rest in a bowl to cool. Add the stems and leaves as well as the garlic to the pan and cook covered until stems are tender, no more than 10 minutes.

Peel the beets and return them to the pan. In a food processor (not the one with the bowl for mixing stuff but the one that decimates/blends/grates), puree the mixture in batches. Should take about 4-5 batches.

Over a large bowl, use a medium-mesh strainer and force the puree through. If you prefer a lighter body soup (like me), then use a finer mesh strainer, like a spider one and do not force the puree. It takes slightly longer and possibly more wasteful but the juices are more potent and without any pulp.

Taste the soup and season as needed with more salt and vinegar. Let the soup come to room temperature and then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Before serving, melt the butter in a 12-inch frying pan and crisp the baguette cubes to make croutons. While the croutons are still warm, plate the soup, decorate with a small dollop of yogurt, croutons, dill and drizzle of olive oil.

Here is the nutrition information on this recipe:

chilled beet soup

Turkey Breast Tenderloins with Kale, Faro and Mushrooms

This dish is a byproduct of desperation. I had purchased some turkey breast tenderloins (impulse) and some kale and mushrooms to do my standard kale soup. Well, I ended up not making the soup and I had to use the turkey breast tenderloins… So, after raiding the fridge for other ingredients, I made this dish. It turned out well. It is pretty tasty (not the tastiest dish ever though… it is after all turkey. Turkey meat is great the first day but, however you slice it, dries after that first day) and it is healthy (kale… so good) and low calorie (290 per serving) and essentially bests, in taste, calorie count and nutrition, any old boring sandwich you can get at lunch.

Turkey Breast Tenderloins with Kale, Faro and Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 20 oz turkey breast tenderloins, (i used Jennie-O brand), cut into 1.5 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 medium yellow onion, 1/2 inch dice
  • 2 small green bell peppers, 1/2 inch dice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Pepper paste, 1 teaspoon – OPTIONAL
  • Rosemary, few twigs if using fresh, 1 tsp or to taste if using dried
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Red chili flakes, to taste
  • 1 bunch kale, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces white or brown mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 cup faro

Spray a 12-inch skillet or a 5-quart pan and heat on medium high. Brown the turkey slightly. Remove from pan.

Pour the wine in the skillet and add the onions and peppers. Saute stirring occasionally on medium high for about 10 minutes. Cover to retain juices when not stirring.

Add the pepper paste if using. I find that pepper paste adds some substance, spice and rounded-ness to some of my dishes. Break the paste and stir to make sure it colors all ingredients. Saute for another 5 minutes.

Bring the turkey back into the skillet and add the chicken broth. Add the rosemary, black pepper and the red chili flakes and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Add kale and stir to coat. Juices won’t be ample so work to wet the kale. Cover and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and the faro (if you’d like you can add more broth and faro to make more of a grain dish out of this… it sounds great because the faro taste comes across even in small quantities… I held back to avoid a carb explosion. In the future, I would put about a cup of faro and more broth, which would bring the calorie count from 290 to about 380 per serving).

Simmer for another 10 minutes. Wait another 10 minutes before serving to let faro fully cook. It should be firm but not hard.

If you can afford the calories, serve it with 1 oz of shredded cheese and several drops of lemon.

Serves 3.

Here is the nutritional information (without the cheese, extra faro or broth that I mention towards the end of the post):

Garbanzo Beans with Chicken (No Oil Version) Soup/Stew

One of my staples is the garbanzo beans (chickpeas) with chicken… It is an all-time favorite in my house. I got several of my friends totally hooked as well (yes, I mean you Carol). With abundant mint flavor, this is one of the healthiest yet most satisfying dishes I make.

Garbanzo Beans with Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. chicken breast, cubed
  • 2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade or low-sodium
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2-3 plum tomatoes, chopped or 1 14-oz diced canned variety
  • 14-oz can garbanzo beans, or 2 cups cooked from dried
  • 3-4 Tbsps fresh mint or as many tsps if using dried, or to taste
  • 1-2 Tbsps red chili flakes, or to taste
  • Black pepper to taste

Heat 2 tablespoons of the chicken broth in a dutch oven or deep 5-6 qt pan on medium or medium high heat. Add chicken. Cook while mostly covered (to keep juices locked in), stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.

Remove chicken from pan, let the juices remain in pan. If the pan is running low on juices, add few more tablespoons of broth and then stir in the garlic and the onions. Let onion soften, stirring occasionally, for about 4-5 minutes. Stir in celery and peppers. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

Add tomatoes and garbanzo beans to pan. Mix well and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the chicken back in the pan and then the remaining chicken broth. Add the spices. Bring to boil.

Simmer covered for 30 minutes. No need to stir during this time, other than maybe to check the spice levels at the end to adjust.

Makes 5 generous servings. Here are the nutrition facts:

NOTE: You can add some salt to taste and use some olive oil to cook the chicken or saute the onions. If you’d like to treat this more like a soup, you can adjust the broth levels as well.

Cioppino (Seafood Soup)

had the Cioppino (seafood soup) at the Bistro inside the Pro Sports Club for the first time about a month ago and fell in love with it. Since then, I had the Cioppino at the Bistro at least once a week. With only 370 calories for a generous serving with very little fat, it was an amazing find. Since each portion cost about $22 plus tax and tip, I decided to try it at home. After researching a number of recipes, I came up with a version that works for me (and my diet).

This recipe will work for any combination of seafood. You do not necessarily need the mussels if you can’t find or simply do not like them. Substitute with increasing quantity of another seafood ingredient.

The nutritional values of the homemade version is a little different (read better, lower calorie) than that of Pro Club Cioppino’s. This recipe makes 7 very generous servings… almost 3 cups each serving. Here is the breakdown per serving: 325 calories, 12 grams of fat, 8.2 grams of carbohydrates, 43 grams of protein.

Cioppino

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup Olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 small bunch Italian parsley, chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 cups chicken broth, low-sodium, low-fat version
  • 28 oz can stewed tomatoes (or 2 14.5-o cans)
  • 1.5 cup dry white wine like pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc,
  • 1 cup water
  • 1.5 lbs cooked prawns
  • 2 cups crab meat
  • 12 ounces cod or sole fillets (or a little less or more)
  • 1.5 lbs scallops (fresh preferably… the frozen ones get rubbery)
  • 12-15 each mussels, cleaned and debearded
  • 12-15 each clams
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil (or 2 Tbsp fresh)
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme (or 2 Tbsp fresh)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (or 2 tsp fresh)
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • Black Pepper to taste

On medium-low heat using at least a 7-quart pan, saute the onion, garlic and Italian parsley, stirring occasionally. Once the onions are softening, add the tomato, broth, spices, water and wine into pan. Let it simmer for 40 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients. Let simmer for 7-10 minutes, allowing seafood to cook.

Makes 7 serving. The nutritional facts (some values omitted such as sodium, fiber, etc.):

Kale Soup with Chicken Breast (No Oil Version)

I made a variation of my usual Kale Soup with Chicken Sausage and Lentils, without the sausage or the lentils, neither of which is part of my food regimen yet.

Since I love kale so damn much, I tried to recreate the flavors by playing around with ingredients… Turned out pretty awesome. I liked how the veggies were still somewhat firm. I do not like mushy veggies.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 large red bell pepper, 1/2 inch dice
  • 2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless, cubed
  • 3-4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2-3 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 twigs of fresh rosemary
  • 4 carrots. chopped
  • 6 cups chicken broth, homemade or low sodium
  • Red chili flakes, to taste
  • Black Pepper to taste

Heat half a cup of broth in a 6-7 qt pan or dutch oven. Add chicken breasts and cook until brown. Set chicken aside. Put another half cup of broth in pan and saute the onions and celery for 5-7 minutes. Stir often to scrape the brown bits remaining in the pan from the chicken.

Add the garlic, carrots and red bell peppers and saute for 5 more minutes. Stir in the remaining broth. Bring to boil and then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add kale and tomatoes to the pan, plus spices to taste (I am really generous with both the flakes and the black pepper). Cover pan, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Makes 6 servings. Here are the nutritional facts:

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