Category Archives: soup

Chipotle Chili

Hey friends!  I have missed you all very much. We recently moved back to Chicago and the past few weeks have been quite a whirlwind. I’ve been settling into my new life, catching up with my wonderful friends, hanging with the family, reacquainting myself with American culture (driving, Trader Joe’s, reality TV), setting up some very exciting stuff for this coming year – such as the re-launch of my cleanse program (see bottom of page for details), and finally starting to find time to spend with one of my favorite things… food.

This chipotle chili is an easy, one-pot meal (which I adore) that is delicious, comforting, and obviously super healthy. I have already made this chili twice since our shipment from London with all my kitchen supplies arrived two weeks ago. My secret ingredient is fennel, which may sound strange in a chili but I promise it is divine. Fennel, commonly used in Italian cooking, is crunchy with a slightly licorice taste when raw. However, cooked fennel takes on a sweeter more mild flavor which works nicely with the smoky chipotle chilies.  Fennel is low in calories, high in fiber and a good source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and manganese.

Chipotle Chili

Makes 6 servings (serving size: 1.5 cups chili)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 fennel bulb, halved, cored, and chopped

2 red bell peppers, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons finely chopped chipotle peppers in adobe

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons chili powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

3 (14.5 ounce) cans no-salt added diced tomatoes, with liquid

1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup of water

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, fennel, peppers, and garlic and cook for 12-15 minutes, until vegetables are soft but not browned. Stir in chipotle peppers, oregano, chili powder, and salt and cook for an additional one minute. Add remaining ingredients and gently simmer over low heat for at least an hour, stirring occasionally. Garnish with shredded cheese if desired and serve.

Nutritional facts per serving (serving size: 1.5 cups chili): 249 calories, 5.6 g total fat, 310 mg sodium, 40 g total carbohydrates, 10 g sugar, 11 g fiber, 34 g protein

BALANCE IT OUT: This hearty chipotle chili is the perfect one-pot meal. Serve with whole-grain bread, baked tortilla chips, or a side salad.

Spring Into Wellness Cleanse: I am very excited to be partnering again with my good friend and personal trainer, Michelle Cushing, to host our second annual Spring into Wellness Cleanse. Our 21-day invigorating program is an effective and highly educational way to get you feeling your absolute best while setting a path for lifelong success.

We’ll be hosting a free workshop in February where you can learn more about cleansing. Stay tuned, for more information on our cleanse and details for the February workshop!

Love,

Renee

Indian Red Lentil Soup

If you are anything like me, then cold weather means soup season. I practically live on soups during the winter months so last night I threw together this delicious soup. It is a simple but nourishing meal that will help keep your body warm and healthy during these chilly days.

Here are a few of the key immune-boosting ingredients:

Garlic – Garlic has been used for thousands of years for its magnificent health benefits. This potent ingredient has been shown to boost immunity, protect blood vessels from damage, and reduce inflammation which is linked to premature aging and disease. To get the most of garlic’s benefits, crush fresh garlic, then let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before cooking.  This allows an enzymatic process to occur which boosts its health promoting compounds.

Ginger
– For many generations ginger has been used as a home remedy to treat gastrointestinal distress. Recent research is starting to catch up with these old wives’ tales and demonstrate that ginger, in fact, is effective at preventing motion sickness and relieving symptoms of nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy.  Ginger is also a rich source of powerful antioxidants such as gingerols, shogaols, and zingerones.

Turmeric
– A main ingredient in curry, turmeric, has long been used as a condiment and healing remedy.  Turmeric has beneficial antioxidant properties and contains valuable vitamins and minerals such as iron, manganese, potassium, and vitamin B6. Research is showing that curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, has promising anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties.


Indian Red Lentil Soup

Makes 2.5 cups; 2 servings (serving size: 1.25 cups)

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon diced fresh ginger

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

1 small carrot, diced

1 tomato, chopped

1/2 cup red lentils

2 cups low sodium vegetable broth

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

To Garnish:

Cilantro

0% Greek Yogurt

Heat a saucepan with oil and add onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add carrot, tomato, lentils, broth, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Serve as is or topped with fresh cilantro and a dollop of yogurt.

Nutrition facts per serving (serving size: 1.25 cups): 249 calories, 6 g total fat, 290 mg sodium, 17 g total carbohydrates, 6 g sugar, 9 g fiber, 13 g protein

BALANCE IT OUT: Balance this meal out with some warm whole-grain bread and a side salad or veggies. You could also enjoy the entire recipe (2 servings) for a hearty, nutritious, one-pot meal.

Lots of Love,

Renee

 

Italian-Style Chickpea & Mushroom Soup

While I was in Italy I noticed chickpea soup was on the menu at almost everyplace we went.  This past weekend in Rome a chickpea and mushroom soup caught my eye.  With the weather getting much cooler, I thought it was the perfect time to try this dish out myself.

This soup is easy to make and a delicious one pot meal.  It is packed with nutrients, low in calories, and high in fiber. The mushrooms provide a good source of selenium, B vitamins, and potassium. They also contain certain substances which may help boost our immune systems.  The spinach provides an excellent source of fiber and vitamin K.  It also contains rich sources of calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, folate, vitamin A, and lutein.  Chickpeas provide a good source of plant protein and high amount of fiber.

Italian-Style Chickpea & Mushroom Soup

Makes 8 cups; 4 servings (serving size: 2 cups)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon each: sea salt and pepper

4 cups sliced mushrooms

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or about 3 cups cooked chickpeas

1 (14.5 ounce) can tomatoes (I used whole peeled plum tomatoes)

4 cups low sodium vegetable broth

4 cups chopped baby spinach

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add in garlic, celery, herbs, salt, pepper, and mushrooms; cook for an additional 5 minutes, until vegetables start to soften. Mix in chickpeas, tomatoes with their juice, and broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30-45 minutes. Stir in spinach and cook for 1 more minute, until spinach welts. Serve warm and top with Parmesan cheese (optional).

Nutrition facts per serving (serving size: 2 cups): 355 calories, 12 g total fat, 451 mg sodium, 50 g total carbohydrates, 14 g fiber, 16 g protein

BALANCE IT OUT: This delicious bowl of hearty soup stands pretty well on its own as a light well-balanced meal. You can bulk up this meal by serving it with some warm whole-grain bread or a large green salad.

Lots of Love,

Renee

Pea and Fresh Spinach Soup

Whenever I am not in the mood to cook but still want something fresh and healthy I normally pick something up at Planet Organic, a small eco-friendly grocery chain in London.  Luckily there is a Planet Organic just down the street from me and just like most grocery stores, it is always stocked with plenty of wholesome and healthy food to go options.  They carry a line of fresh soups from Yorkshire Provender and I regularly grab their delicious pea and fresh spinach soup with coriander (coriander is known as cilantro in the U.S.A.).  I absolutely love the idea of a soup based around spinach and Yorkshire Provender’s spinach soup tastes amazing too. Since I enjoy it so much I decided to create my own version that proved to be just as delicious (if not more) and nearly as quick to make as picking it up at the store.

Spinach is one of the healthiest foods you can eat.  It is filled with powerful nutrients that protect the body from damage, such as cancer and bone disease, but also work immediately to improve our skin, enhance our eyesight, slim our waist, and increase our energy.  Every fruit and vegetable offers some combination and amount of these health-promoting nutrients but calorie for calorie green leafy vegetables, like spinach, provide more nutrients than any other food on this planet!  Looks like Popeye had it right all along.  Peas, the other main ingredient in this recipe, are extremely nutritious as well.  They are filled with vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin B6, manganese, fiber, folate, thiamin, protein, niacin, magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium just to name a few.  Besides the extra nutritional boost, the peas also work nicely with the potatoes to thicken the soup and give it a creamy texture without the need for additional fat or heavy cream.

Pea and Fresh Spinach Soup

Makes 2 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large onions, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 small new or baby potatoes, cubed or 1/2 small baking potato, cubed with skin on

3 cups low sodium vegetable broth

5 cups fresh spinach

1.5 cups frozen peas

2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

sea salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onion starts to soften.  Add potatoes and stir for an additional minute.  Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through and soft.  Add spinach, peas, and cilantro and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until spinach has cooked and peas are heated through.  Puree soup with a blender and season with salt and pepper.

Recipe Note: Be careful if you blend the hot soup in a blender as the heat of the soup will cause the lid of the blender to pop off and soup to splash everywhere.  I let the soup sit for about 20 minutes to cool off before blending and then warm the pureed soup back up on the stove top.

Nutrition facts per serving: 266 calories, 10 g total fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 613 mg sodium, 37  total carbohydrates, 9 g fiber, 10 g protein


BALANCE IT OUT:  Serve this healthy soup with a whole grain roll or crackers for an easy and light meal.  Pair this soup with a sandwich or salad for a quick and simple dinner.  Or serve it as an elegant starter at your next dinner party.

Love,

Renee

Chickpea (or Chicken) Tortilla Soup

My sister-in-law, Kelsey, taught me this delightfully easy tortilla soup recipe.  She made this recipe while her and a few other of my family members where stuck in London this past December and I know this recipe will always remind me of that week.  My whole family was in town for my wedding and London got a little bit of snow, which rarely happens.  The U.K.’s largest airport couldn’t handle the few flakes of snow so some of my family got stranded at our place for the week.  Despite some frustration with the airlines and the close sleeping quarters the week was a lot of fun.  I got to spend plenty of time with my family plus Kelsey taught me how to make this awesome soup which pleasantly feed the entire crowd.  She made the chicken tortilla soup version, which I show you how to do below, but the chickpea version is just as tasty and a little less work.

From left to right: my sister Rebecca with my nephew Max, my sister Rachel with my niece Gabriella, my sister-in-law Kelsey with my niece Bonnie in London for my wedding

Kelsey’s version of tortilla soup is super-easy, delicious, and good for you.  Throwing the veggies straight into the boiling broth not only saves you time since normally you would cook the veggies first in oil then add in the broth, but also saves you calories and unwanted fat.  A mere tablespoon of oil has a whopping 120 calories and by eliminating oil all together in this recipe we save on calories without sacrificing taste.  Also, the sodium content in this version is much lower than any tortilla soup you would get at a restaurant plus the chickpea version reaches nearly 50% of your recommended daily fiber intake.

Chickpea Tortilla Soup

makes 4 servings

1 (15 ounce) can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained or about 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas

4 cups low sodium vegetable broth

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies or 3-4 mild chilies, seeded and diced (can add more less depending on preference)

1 large onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons ground cumin

sea salt and pepper to taste

4 6-inch whole grain tortillas

cooking spray

1/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

Using a fork roughly mash the chickpeas until you get a chunky consistency with some chickpeas still whole and set aside.  (I added the previous step to get the texture of the chickpeas more like shredded chicken but you can easily just add whole chickpeas if you prefer.) Pour the vegetable broth and diced tomatoes into a large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add in the mashed chickpeas, chilies, onion, bell pepper, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper.  Return the pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 30 – 40 minutes.

While the soup is simmering preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Cut the tortillas into thin 1/4-inch strips and lay on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Season with sea salt and pepper and bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned and crisp.

Serve warm soup topped with crisp tortilla strips and shredded cheese.

Recipe Note: To make Chicken Tortilla Soup replace chickpeas with 2 small boneless chicken breast (about 6 ounces chicken breast total).  Place chicken breast and low sodium vegetable broth into a large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Boil for about 8-10 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink.  Leave the vegetable broth in the saucepan and remove the cooked chicken and shred into small pieces.  Add the can of diced tomatoes into the vegetable broth and continue on with the recipe as above, substituting the shredded cooked chicken with the mashed chickpeas.

Nutrition facts per serving: 318 calories, 6 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 660 mg sodium, 54 g total carbohydrates, 10 g fiber, 28 g protein

BALANCE IT OUT:  This tortilla soup recipe really is a perfect meal on its own.  However, 318 calories per serving might be a little low for some people so you can either increase the serving or serve with a salad, half or whole sandwich.  Generally I say meals should be between 300-600 calories but it really depends on the person and their activity level.

Love,

Renee

Spicy Bean Soup with Green Chili & Brown Rice

Combining the beans and brown rice in this hearty soup provides you with an excellent source of high quality protein. Getting your protein from beans gives you higher and more stable energy levels, a happier heart, and a thankful digestive tract due to the soluble fiber and numerous minerals present in almost every bean.

makes 6 servings (serving size: about 1.5 cups)

2 teaspoons coconut oil (or olive oil)

2 yellow onions, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 green chili peppers, diced (about 3 tablespoons of canned diced green chili’s)

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 cups sliced okra (fresh or frozen, thawed)

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon each: sea salt and pepper

1 lime, juiced

1 (15-ounce) can white kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

4 cups low sodium vegetable broth

2 tomatoes, diced

4 cups cooked brown rice (use instant or boil in a bag to save time)

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

Garnish

sliced green onions

chopped cilantro

low fat sour cream or non fat plain yogurt

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion, garlic, and chili peppers; sauté 10 minutes or until tender and golden.  Add red bell pepper, okra, chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, and lime juice; sauté for 2 minutes.  Add beans and mix until beans or well coated with spices.  Add broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cover for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add in the tomatoes, rice, and cilantro.  Simmer uncovered for an additional 5 minutes.  Garnish with sliced green onions, cilantro, and a dollop of low fat sour cream or non fat plain yogurt.

Nutrition facts per serving: 430 calories, 5 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 555 mg sodium, 80 g total carbohydrates, 18 g fiber, 21 g protein

BALANCE IT OUT: Spicy Bean soup with green chili and brown rice is the ultimate well-balanced meal.  Serve with a side salad, a fresh whole-grain roll, or whole grain tortilla chips if you desire.

Love,

Renee

Rosemary, White Bean & Vegtable Soup

I recently moved from Chicago to London and besides getting used to another culture I have had an even harder time adjusting to the weather.  Moving straight from the sunny and hot Chicago summer to the gray and damp London vibe has affected my wardrobe, mood, and the foods I eat.  I tend to match the foods I eat with the weather I am in so lately I have been making a lot more soups, stews, and comfort food.

This particular soup is one of my favorites and by no means should be discounted as just another vegetable soup recipes.  The fresh vegetables, thyme, and rosemary blend together perfectly for a delicious flavor that is both light and hearty.  I originally made this soup with fresh okra in place of the zucchini, which I personally prefer and highly recommend if you can find okra.  Okra becomes almost gel like when cooked and helps to thicken the soup but it can be hard to find.  Zucchini or green beans make a simple substitution with a slight alteration in texture but not in taste!

Makes 4 servings

1 tablespoon coconut oil (may use olive oil)

2 large red onions, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 hot chili pepper, seeded and diced (optional)

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped

4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed from stalks

1.5 cups chopped okra or 2 zucchini, sliced or 1.5 cups fresh green beans

2 medium ears corn, kernels removed

6 cups reduced sodium vegetable broth

1 (15 ounce) can Cannellini beans (about 2 cups)

4 bay leaves

sea salt and pepper

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté onions, garlic, pepper, carrots, celery, rosemary, and thyme for 5 minutes, until vegetables soft and light brown.  Add okra and corn and cook for an additional 1 minute.  Add vegetable broth, beans, bay leaves and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and serve warm.

Nutrition facts per serving: 277 calories, 7 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 270 mg sodium, 45 g total carbohydrates, 12 g fiber, 12 g protein

BALANCE IT OUT: This soup makes an excellent light meal or pair with a side salad or warm crusty bread for a well balanced satisfying meal.