Soup's on ... to help you drop those holiday pounds
Let's face it. Many of us let ourselves enjoy the holiday goodies a little too much. I try and watch it, but sometimes the holiday cakes, cookies and carbs just get the best of me.
However, I don't let it bother me. Come Jan. 2 -- I do a Chili Fest on New Year's Day -- this veggie soup is bubbling away on top of my stove. I don't feel deprived at all because it is so flavorful and satisfying.
Diced vegetables in a fragrant broth are always delicious, but another variation is to puree the soup and transform it into a creamy potage. Sometimes I will even divide the soup in half and serve the diced vegetables in one half of the bowl and the creamy puree in the other half for a pretty presentation.
The soup becomes an entirely new experience when pureed. You can completely puree it or partially puree it, leaving some texture and color in the soup if you like. This colorful vegetable soup is simple to prepare since you need only to peel the carrots and squash. To save even more time, look for pre-peeled and pre-cut butternut squash at your market.
To enrich the broth, I add a rind of Parmesan cheese to the soup while it is simmering. Leeks are my preference for their rich, oniony flavor. I am often asked how to clean and use a leek. If you have any questions, you can find a how-to video on my website (www.seriouslysimple.com) that will give you all the information.
The unusual ingredient here is the chickpea that adds an underlying earthy flavor as well as a natural thickener for the puree version. Fully cooked chickpeas are added just a few minutes before the soup is pureed to keep their flavor intact. To dress this up, consider adding a dollop of basil or sun-dried tomato pesto. Or, if you're really being good, just garnish with fresh herbs and a light sprinkling of fresh Parmesan cheese.
• Diane Rossen Worthington is the author of 18 cookbooks. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.