Ham and Lentils Slow-Cooker Stew Recipe

I love this stew – and I love that I can cook it in my crockpot and not heat up the house!

1 lb dried lentils
2 cups fat-free chicken broth
5 cups water
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup cooked ham, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 tsp rubbed sage
1/4 tsp pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaf
1 tsp salt

Put everything except the salt into a slow cooker. Cook for 3-4 hours on high. Salt before serving.

Servings: 8

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 258 calories, 16 calories from fat, 1.8g total fat, 9.6mg cholesterol, 686.1mg sodium, 790.1mg potassium, 40.9g carbohydrates, 19g fiber, 4.2g sugar, 19.9g protein.

It also is very low-calorie and frugal. It’s a win-win-win meal!

Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

For the most part, when I think of hot soup, I think of the winter and fall. But when I see all the beautiful vegetables in the produce section, I can’t help but think of chicken tortilla soup. And the heat (spicy-heat, not hot-heat) really does make you feel cooler.

In the winter, I frequently use canned tomatoes in soups, but this time of year, the tomatoes start looking better and better at the store. The farmer’s market near me opens in a week, and I’m sure those will be even better. Using fresh in this soup keeps it tasting summery.

2 corn tortillas
Nonstick spray
1 32-oz. box of non-fat chicken broth
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, sliced
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 cups corn kernals (frozen, canned, or fresh)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 avocado
Juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

Slice the corn tortillas into strips. Heat a small skillet over medium heat and spray with nonstick spray. Add the tortilla strips in batches, stirring gently until crispy. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer and add the chicken, onion, jalapeno, tomatoes, corn, garlic powder, and cumin. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and chop the avocado and toss with the lime juice.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top each serving with a few of the corn tortilla strips, a spoonful of the avocado, and a bit of the cilantro.

Servings: 8

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 168 calories, 41 calories from fat, 4.9g total fat, 34.2mg cholesterol, 609.2mg sodium, 524.4mg potassium, 16.2g carbohydrates, 3.6g fiber, 3.2g sugar, 16.7g protein.

I love this soup. So did my kids, except the one who hates all soup and all tomatoes on principle. He had a quesadilla.

 

Split Pea Soup Recipe

A couple weeks ago, spiral hams were on a ridiculous sale, so I bought one and we had a lovely, decadent dinner, with ham and mashed potatoes and rolls and applesauce. We also had enough ham left over for a second dinner, plus meat for lots of sandwiches, and a ham bone to freeze for soup. I made our favorite, split pea soup.

1 pound of split peas
2 quarts water
Ham bone
1 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, smashed
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. thyme

Rinse peas and pick through and remove any stones.

Put all ingredients in a large stock pot or dutch oven. Simmer for 2 hours, adding water if necessary.

Remove the ham bone and allow to cool enough to  handle. Pick the meat off and return the meat to the soup. Discard the bone.

Add salt and pepper to taste, but be sure to actually taste it – the ham can add a lot of salt.

And THAT made such a large pot of soup, that I still have some in the freezer for yet another meal or two.  And the moral of this story is: Never pass up a fantastic sale on ham.

Menu Plan for April 11-17 and Tuscan Soup Recipe

Dinners

Sunday Tuscan Soup (Recipe below)

Monday Black Bean Burritos

Tuesday Breakfast for Dinner

Wednesday Chicken breasts with balsamic pan sauce

Thursday Leftovers

Friday Farfalle with Tuna and Capers in White Wine Sauce (from Simply Recipes)

Saturday Fish, brown rice, and brussel sprouts

Breakfasts: Oatmeal pancakes with blueberry sauce, oatmeal with fruit, cold cereal

Lunches: Quesadillas, leftovers, smoothies, sandwiches

I am madly in love with the Zuppa Toscana at Olive Garden. I think that it and the tiramisu are the only reasons to eat at Olive Garden.

This week is “make the most of what you’ve got” week for us (meaning it’s not strictly “eat from the pantry and freezer”, but the less I can buy to round out what I’ve got, the better). I have been meaning to try my hand at a soup inspired by, but not entirely copied from (that’s no fun!) the Olive Garden soup. I had Italian sausage in the freezer, and I had spinach — I had planned kale in this, but spinach was what I had. And that worked out just fine.

This is what I came up with, and MAN was it yummy.

1 lb bulk Italian sausage
2 Tbs shallots, diced
3 clove garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
3 15oz. cans chicken broth (fat free)
2 cup water
1 potato, diced
1 cup spinach, chopped
3 Tbs basil, chopped
1 cup fat-free evaporated milk

Fry sausage in a large sauce pan, breaking it up as it cooks. Drain on paper towels. In the same pan, cook shallot and garlic until translucent. Add wine and deglaze pan. Add broth and water and turn heat to medium. Add sausage back to pan and add potato. Cook until potato is done, then add the spinach. Finish with the evaporated milk and serve.

Servings: 12

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving, according to Living Cookbook): 180 calories, 109 calories from fat, 12.1g total fat, 29.6mg cholesterol, 741.1mg sodium, 304.4mg potassium, 6.2g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 2.8g sugar, 8g protein.

And now we have 2 more meals’ worth of this tasty soup in the freezer!

I also served homemade bread sticks. I used Lynn’s 40-minute Rolls recipe, but I cut it in half — I used a whole egg, and added a little extra flour to compensate for the extra liquid in the egg. I shaped them into snake-shapes by rolling balls of dough between my palms, like you would with play dough, and then baked them. After they were done, I sprayed them lightly with butter-flavor nonstick spray, and sprinkled them with a little bit of garlic salt. They were fantastic!

Everyone except my pickiest eater loved this soup (and that pickiest eater doesn’t like ANY soup). We will definitely be having this again!