A simple broth becomes a delicious meal
In terms of flexibility and taste, chicken soup is a terrific—if oft overlooked —base for a range of hearty meals. No wonder it's the food of choice when you're under the weather. It tastes like the distilled essence of good health.
Of course, few of us have idle hours to spend making the fresh stuff. Luckily, canned broth is beyond convenient. It keeps on your pantry shelf for ages, and you can use it as a replacement for oils in cooking; to decrease the amount of oil in salad dressing; to enhance the flavor of vegetables or rice and other grains (used in place of cooking water); or to mash potatoes instead of high-calorie milk and butter. Be sure to buy fat-free, reduced-sodium broth.
It's easy to improve a simple can of broth dramatically without the labor of starting from scratch by simmering it over medium heat along with a diced carrot, a diced stalk of celery, a small bunch of parsley, a coarsely chopped onion, and three whole black peppercorns. Cook for around 25 minutes, strain, and you've got a bowl of soupy perfection.
Associate editor Robyn Webb, MS, LN, is the author of a number of cookbooks, including Italian Diabetic Meals In 30 Minutes— Or Less!, published by the American Diabetes Association. This, as well as other books by Robyn, can be ordered from the Association's online bookstore at http://shopdiabetes.org or by calling 1-800-232-6733.
Dinner for six, 5 ways
Quick meals are easy if you keep a few cans on hand
1. Turkey Ball Soup: Heat 3 cups chicken broth. Take 1 lb. ground turkey breast meat and combine with 1 egg, 3 Tbsp. dry breadcrumbs, 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, and fresh ground pepper and salt to taste. Roll into 1-inch meatballs. Drop into boiling broth and cook until turkey is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add 1 cup leftover cooked rice or pasta. Cook 1 more minute.
2. Clear Asian Soup: Boil 3 cups chicken broth. Add 2 sliced carrots, 1 sliced celery stalk, 1 tsp. ginger, 1 Tbsp. chopped scallions, 2 Tbsp. lite soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. sherry, and 3 cups cooked noodles. Cook for 10 minutes.
3. Rice and Pea Soup: Boil 4 cups chicken broth. Add 3 cups cooked leftover brown rice, 1/2 (10 oz.) package frozen peas, and 1 sprig rosemary. Cook for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with a little grated Parmesan cheese.
4. Tasty Pasta Soup: Take 3 cups leftover cooked macaroni and add it to 4 cups canned chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Add in 1 cup leftover cooked diced chicken and 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes.
5. Fast Onion Soup: In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Add 3 cups sliced onions. Sauté for10 minutes until onions are soft. Add the onions to 6 cups boiling chicken broth. Add 2 Tbsp. dry white wine. Grind in pepper. Serve over toasted bread slices in individual bowls.
Try something new
Lucini Olive Oi
It's smooth and fruity with just a slight hint of bitterness and not as harsh as the heavier Italian olive oils. Great for light sautéing, it can also be used as an all-purpose oil. $7.99, 8.5 fl. oz. www.lucini.com
A light oil with barely a trace of pungency or bitterness, it's terrific for light salad dressings or a drizzle over sliced tomatoes. $10.99, 12.7 fl. oz. www.vea.es
This one is bold, with a slight bitterness and pungency, but a full, fruity taste as well. It works well over cooked white beans and salads that contain hearty greens such as spinach, or drizzled very lightly over tomato-based soups. $14.99, 16.7 fl. oz. www.sprucefoods.com
Ingredients in depth: Olive Oil
Many years ago, on one of my trips to Italy, I overheard a shopkeeper talking about "liquid gold." He was speaking of one of Italy's finest commodities: olive oil. But great olive oils come from many different parts of the world, pairing terrific taste with fabulous nutritional qualities.