Talk about comfort food. Pasta e fagioli is an Italian dish that literally means “pasta and beans.” Once considered a peasant dish because it consisted only of inexpensive ingredients, the Italian staple has countless variations. Many recipes use bacon or pancetta, but I love the simplicity and overwhelming goodness of this version, crammed with flavor and texture from a variety of fresh and dried herbs, vegetables, white beans, tomato sauce and tube-shaped pasta. Even better? The soup is low in saturated fat and crammed with fiber, boasting 16 grams per serving.
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As the cold weather sets in, bone-warming soups really hit the spot. But there’s no need to pack on the heavy-cream pounds when indulging in a delicious bowl of goodness.
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I teach cooking classes on a regular basis and I always try to include a soup as it’s an easy way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet. Served as a starter or eaten as a meal, soups are warming and nutritious this time of year. Roasted beets add a mellow sweetness and beautiful magenta color to this dish. It’s perfect for any day but would be a great way to express your admiration for a loved one as Valentine’s Day approaches.
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- Warm right up with caramelized onion soup, topped with cheesy bread.
I realize it’s doesn’t get really cold in the desert (where I live), but I’m an east coast native, so I know how bone-chilling February can get. Only two things warm me up when I’m chilled to the core: a hot bath and hot soup. This week, I’m sharing three of my favorite hot soups for cold days. The onion soup is my all-time favorite (it has been, since I was like 7). When you make it, take the time to really caramelize the onions until they’re deep golden brown, like they’ve been dipped in caramel. And, use oven-proof soup bowls so you can melt the cheese under the broiler. For the butternut squash soup, the key is roasting the squash because it caramelizes the flesh and makes it tender and sweet. I also add cumin and ginger before roasting to bring out the warm smokiness of the spices. The Tuscan soup is a hearty blend of ham, beans, kale and sage. I used white beans, but any bean variety will work. Serve with a wedge of toasted Italian bread with olive oil and you’ll be transported to Italy in under 30 minutes.
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- Happy National Soup Month!
Celebrate National Soup Month by staying warm (and healthy!) with Food Network chefs’ best low-cal soups, from the latest issue of Food Network Magazine.
Guy’s carrot, ginger and potato soup (pictured above) has less than 200 calories per serving. Top with low-fat Greek yogurt and pine nuts for a creamy-crunchy combination.
Add a new soup to your go-to list. Full of chiles, peppers and shrimp, we guarantee you’ll love this Spicy Shrimp Broth from Marcela Valladolid.
Emeril’s take on the classic chicken soup has mint, lemon and red pepper flakes. Don’t forget the cayenne pepper for an extra kick.
Swiss chard, carrots, cannellini beans and spinach come together in Bobby’s hearty Minestrone With Parmigiano-Reggiano for a delicious dish that has less than 300 calories.
Ellie’s lightened-up New! New England Clam Chowder is anything but boring. Canadian bacon gives it subtle smoky tones, while hot sauce takes the flavor to a whole new level.
What’s your favorite soup?
- Use a hand blender in recipes that call for a standard blender.
We’re teaming up with fellow food bloggers and healthy eating advocates to host a Healthy Every Week Challenge, a month-long initiative to develop healthy eating habits. The plan an is to develop a manageable healthy habit each week that will carry through the new year. Join us here and share what you’re eating on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #gethealthy.
One tool that no healthy home kitchen should be without is a hand blender (also called an immersion blender). This svelte little tool goes right into your soup, sauce or smoothie, allowing you to blend up something creamy, without transferring liquids from pot to blender. And with one of these, you’ll never deal with a soup-blender explosion again. When you close the lid on hot liquids and then blend, the steam can build up and cause the lid to blow off, sending hot soup flying all around your kitchen. When you bring the blender to the soup, that won’t happen.
You can even use this blender to mix up pancake or crepe batter in seconds.
Use a hand blender to make these recipes:
Nutty Sweet Potato Soup
Butternut Squash Soup
Chicken Sate With Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
Souffle Pancake With Apple-Pear Compote
You can buy this Cuisinart hand blender for $29.99 at the Food Network Store, and if you join us tonight on Twitter at 8:30pm for a chat about healthy cooking at home (#gethealthy), we’re giving away two of these hand blenders at the end of the chat.
Tell us: Do you own a hand blender? How do you use yours?
- Can soup cure the sniffles?
Going as far back as the 12th century, Jewish scholars have touted the effectiveness of chicken soup for a variety of ailments, including the common cold. Even today, when you’re in bed with a cold, someone has either reminded you of its goodness or brought you a piping hot bowl. Are the wonders of chicken soup just cultural myths passed down from generation to generation, or can soup really cure a cold?
What’s In It?
Chicken soup is made from a stock or broth and a variety of veggies. In a stock, the chicken bones are cooked for a few hours. This gives enough time for minerals like zinc, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium to seep into the liquid stock. These same minerals won’t be in a broth since a broth is typically made from the meat only. Don’t discount out the nutritional goodness of broth though, it’s still brimming with minerals like selenium and phosphorus. Of course both soups and stocks are made from a variety of veggies like celery, onion, carrots, leeks, parsnips, or turnips — all of their minerals seep into the liquid too.
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- Make a homeade stock out of your Thanksgiving leftovers and turn it into 3 easy soups.
You can only heat up a plate of gravy-drenched turkey dinner leftovers so many times! Go a little lighter with your Thanksgiving memories by making any of these 3 easy and tasty soups. They all start out with a fresh pot of stock made with stuff you’ve got lying around the kitchen.
Don’t toss out the remnants of your turkey! Go the extra mile and turn it into an amazingly delicious stock. A large pot, some water and vegetable scraps (you’ve definitely got those around) and you’re set. Let it simmer away while the family settles into a cozy food coma.
Basic Turkey Stock
Makes 2 quarts
1 roasted turkey carcass (from a 10-pound turkey)
2 pounds raw vegetable scraps (carrots, celery, onions, leeks and garlic recommended)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
Combine ingredients in a large stockpot and add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a slow boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 2 to 3 hours. Strain and transfer to quart containers. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
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- Food Network Magazine's Slow Cooker Squash Stew
With the cooler weather settling in, it’s time to get cozy in the kitchen. Snuggle up with these healthy meals that will dirty fewer dishes.
A seasonal vegetarian feast straight from the slow cooker.
Recipe: Slow Cooker Squash Stew
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- Make Your Own Matzo Ball Soup
Every Passover, one of our family traditions is making matzo ball soup. Although Passover is a week-long holiday, we always run out of soup after two days no matter how many batches we cook up. Toss out the pre-packaged matzo ball mix and try my grandma’s famous matzo ball recipe any time of year!
Get Toby’s family recipe for matzo ball soup »