Monday Medical: Healthy, tasty recipes for soup

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— As winter settles in and the cold evenings take hold, many people turn to “comfort food.” These dishes often are loaded with fats and carbohydrates. A healthier alternative that provides plenty of comfort is soup.

I’m not sure anyone could invent a more perfect cold-weather meal than a steaming hot bowl of soup. Besides offering warmth to body and soul, soup can contain healthy ingredients that even veggie-challenged children and adults find palatable.

Cooked carrot, pumpkin or other winter squash can be mashed, blended with an equal amount of broth and made into a quick soup. Add a teaspoon of curry powder for extra flavor and sprinkle sunflower seeds or chopped nuts on top for one of nature’s best sources of protein.

Many hearty, healthy soups can be made with canned broth, frozen vegetables, pasta and flavorful seasonings. Adding beans, dried peas or grains to the mix can boost a soup’s nutritional value.

A child who won’t touch broccoli except to throw it at a younger sibling may happily eat potato broccoli soup presented as Incredible Hulk Soup. Pureed broccoli gives the soup the Hulkish green color. Letting kids add their own toppings can further add to the soup’s appeal.

If you are looking for a creative new way to use turkey leftovers, try Quick Tortilla Soup. Don’t feel you have to stop with the ingredients listed; you can customize to your own taste by tossing in chopped vegetables or other healthy additions.

Here are two easy recipes that could become favorites at your home this winter.

Broccoli potato (Incredible Hulk) soup

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped (optional)

2 bunches broccoli (remove tough stem ends, chop florets and thinly slice rest of stem)

4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup lemon juice

Put olive oil in large soup pot. Add onion and garlic and saute gently for five minutes until onion is wilted. Add broccoli, potatoes and broth. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes.

Add salt and pepper, cool for a couple of minutes, then puree soup in batches in a blender or food processor (be careful not to overfill). Return soup to the stove and heat through.

Add the lemon juice just before serving. Offer toppings such as grated cheese, oyster crackers or yogurt. Serves 6.

Quick tortilla soup

1 large onion, diced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 small can mild green chilies

1 jalapeño chopped fine (optional)

1 can black beans, undrained

1 cup cooked, diced turkey

1 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes with juice

1/2 cup of chopped cilantro

Lime to taste

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onion is golden brown. Add broth, chilies, jalapeño, beans and turkey, and bring to a boil. Add tomato and cilantro. Bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes.

Add juice from half a lime and serve with toppings — one chopped ripe avocado, chopped mild red pepper, Mexican cheese, sour cream, wedges of lime, tortilla chips or several corn tortillas cut into strips and baked until crisp. Serves 4.

Christine McKelvie is the public relations director for Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at christine.mckelvie@yvmc.org.

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