When meandering around the blogosphere it’s hard to avoid the signs that it’s time to choose a New Year’s Resolution. To many, this tradition can become clique or even, dreaded. I personally love it because it’s a time to start anew and reach for your goals. Each December I look forward to crafting my list, full of well intentioned possibilities. This year my first resolution, is actually a repeat: I’d like to slim down and tone up.
I actually had the same resolution in 2007. I pursuited it relentlessly. I counted; I exercised; I weighed. I met my goals and then some; I felt better than I ever had. It even felt, dare I say, easy. Then maintenance came and kicked my overconfident butt. I kept the weight off for a little over a year, but then bad habits creeped back. Intuition was ignored; workouts were skipped. I gained it all back, every last pound. I don’t consider myself overweight by any means, but I have noticed that what was once toned is now fleshy and soft.
And so at The Pink Apron it’s time to bring mindful eating back. This isn’t going to become a diet blog (My second resolution, expectantly, is to be even more daring and adventurous in the kitchen.). I’m not going to pretend I have all the answers to eating low cal or exercising hard, and quite frankly I don’t enjoy talking about it as much as just cooking and baking. It’s still going to be about delicious, full-flavor food. There will still be desserts and lots, and lots of cheese. However, there will also be some recipes on the lighter side that satisfy without sacrifice.
Which brings me to today’s recipe – Tortilla and Butternut Squash Soup. Adapted from The New England Soup Factory Cookbook, this soup lives up to its description as tasting like a bowl full of nachos. It took only a few substitutions and reductions to make it as friendly to the waist as it is to the palate. Best of all it satisfies a serious cheese craving, which I am commonly known to have. It’s great plain (and comes in at only 300 calories and under 10 grams of fat) but I also love it with a small dollop of fat free greek yogurt and a little Trader Joe’s Corn Salsa. I always judge lightened food by whether I would willingly eat it were I not trying to slim down and with this dish it’s a resounding yes.
Lightened Tortilla and Butternut Squash Soup Serves 8
-2 teaspoons butter
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-2 cups diced onions
-3 carrots, diced
-3 ribs celery, sliced
-1 pound butternut squash, peeled and diced
-12 cups vegetable broth
-1 cup sherry
-8 ounces baked nacho tortilla chips (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
-1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
-6 ounces shredded reduced fat Monterey Jack cheese
-1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles
-1 bunch scallions, sliced
-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Coat a large stock pot with cooking spray and then melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, carrots, celery, and butternut squash. Saute for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the broth and sherry and scrape up any brown bits that may have accumulated. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until squash is soft and tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the tortilla chips until wilted. Add the cilantro and cheese and let the cheese melt into the soup. (Not all brands of reduced fat cheese melt very well, but don’t worry….the blender remedies this.)
Puree the soup in the pot using an immersion blender or work in batches with a regular blender until completely smooth. Add the chiles and scallions and stir to combine. Add lime juice to taste. Serve unadorned or with toppers like extra scallions, greek yogurt, cilantro, cheese, or even guacamole.