Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hearty Healthy Holiday Soup

Have you noticed all the perfume ads lately? I know that "scents" are quite the popular holiday gift, unless you're me and you hate perfume because it gives you a headache, but seriously people. Lindsey first drew my attention to this at the T.J. Maxx in Auburn over Iron Bowl weekend when we stopped in to get gloves for the cold. There were at least 6 different "celebrescents" (I just invented a word) at the checkout counter. Britney Spears. Shania Twain. Celine Dion. Mariah Carey. Hilary Duff. Who doesn't have a perfume out this holiday season? And are people actually buying them? If any of y'all out there are actually purchasing these fragrances, I need to know about it. This is a critical analysis in the making. Do you want to smell like the celebrities? In the case of Britney, does it smell like a combination between frappuccinos and cigarettes? What's Shania smell like, hay fields from Canada? I bet Hilary smells like cotton candy and bubble gum. And do you actually think the people wear their own perfume, that is mass produced and, I'm sure, cheaply made? I am curious about these things. And I am clearly watching way too much television on my holiday vacation. Wait, wait - oh yeah, it's my job to keep up with television. Nevermind.

In between coming up with more research projects that may help me get tenured some day, I have been doing my favorite thing in the world - cooking. Holiday baking took up a lot of time yesterday, and Dave really threw me for a loop when he called at 4 p.m. and requested "vegetables" for dinner. It's rare that he specifically requests something that close to the night's dinner, so I took it as a challenge. I nixed the chicken enchiladas I had in mind, flipped through a Rachael Ray cookbook, and adapted a recipe based on what I had left from last week's grocery trip. The result: a healthy, hearty soup that was perfect for a cold night like last night. Dave ate two bowls, I personally loved it, and there were leftovers for lunch today. So here's the recipe for LBDelicious Spinach Artichoke Soup.

2 T (approx) EVOO
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 15 oz can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and quartered (do not use marinated artichoke hearts)
salt & pepper to taste

In large soup pot, heat oil, then sautee onion, pepper and garlic, with salt & pepper, until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add in the rest of the ingredients, add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer about 15-20 minutes, until ready to eat. Before serving, make up a batch of cheesy toast or serve with crusty bread. My cheese toast was a kaiser roll split in half, topped with mozzarella, placed in the toaster oven for 3 minutes. MMMM

This is very low-fat, low-calorie, and filling meal, especially if you eat it with bread. No bread laying around? Make it heartier by adding some ditalini, orzo, or any small pasta (pre-cooked, unless you want a thick stew-like consistency). Where have you seen ditalini before? Yep, Jon's Italian Sausage Soup. This recipe was also in part adapted from that one. You probably have all of these ingredients laying around your house. If you don't, and you're broke from all your Christmas shopping and think you can't afford to cook it, these ingredients are all very budget-friendly.

Now, I'm going back to baking some more and prepping walls to paint. Happy Holidays!