Is it Summer? Is it Fall? I am not sure depending on the day this time of year. One morning this week I dressed for the dark clouds and very cold weather of Fall. By the time I left an event in the afternoon it was Summer again. In the same way my clothes might reflect the season so does my menu planning. This time of year I love to plan what I call “either/or” menus especially for dinner time. They are menus that use the same key ingredients, but flex to the weather. Here are a few examples from last week:
- Grilled Chicken Fajitas or Tortilla Soup
- Grilled Shrimp bowl with grilled peppers, rice and broccoli or Broccoli Soup with home made French bread
- Beef Burgers with apple salad or Ground Beef & Barley Soup
- Grilled pizza or Minestrone Soup with bread sticks
- Grilled Chicken Teriyaki Bowls (Carrots/Broccoli/Onion) or Healthier Broccoli Soup (see below for recipe)
Things have sure changed for me since my early days of cooking. Back then I planned my menu at least a month out and it included very little fresh produce. I have learned over years of planning and cooking that I include a lot more produce when I plan ahead a little less and get creative with my menu when I end up with odds and ends. I think that using up a lot of produce has become much easier in this season of life with a lot of little people around who seem to always be hungry. I always keep the “essentials” on hand and when I don’t use them all I have to do is do a little prep, put them on the table and they disappear.
Healthier Broccoli Soup – A healthier take on Broccoli and Cheese Soup
- 1 bunch broccoli
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium potato (reds are especially great in this recipe)
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (or Better Than Bullion)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar (we like Idaho White Cheddar)
- 1 teaspoon Worchestershire Sauce
- One 12-ounce can fat-free evaporated milk (or equivalent)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
Directions: Separate the stems and the florets from the broccoli. Trim and discard the bottom of the broccoli stems and peel the tough outer layers. Finely chop the stems and coarsely chop the florets and set aside separately.Meanwhile, combine the reserved florets and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover and continue to steam until the florets are bright green and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the entire contents of the pot with the florets to the soup along with the nutmeg. Stir to combine and remove from the heat. Stir in the Cheddar, Worcestershire and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle chopped green onions as garnish.
Mist a large pot with oil and warm over medium heat. Add the broccoli stems, onions and potato and cook, stirring, until softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and the vegetables are tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
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