Tag Archives: creamy

Creamy Italian Crockpot Soup

7 Sep

Cooler days and school back in session means that the crockpot has returned to it’s semi-permanent position on my kitchen countertop.  Hungry for some flavorful, slow-cooked food and eager to have food ready with little effort, I started searching around for some new recipes to try in the crockpot.  I spotted a Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup on Pinterest that looked mighty tasty, the only problem of course, all that dairy.  Looking through the ingredients, I figured that it wouldn’t be very hard to substitute the dairy for non-dairy counterparts, and while I was at it I decided to reduce the calories from the original version.  With all new recipes, it feels like a real crapshoot whether anyone will eat it, let alone enjoy it.

This recipe?  Jackpot.  Jackpot in the Crockpot.

Creamy and slightly cheesy, the base of this soup tastes a tiny bit like the sauce in Chef Boyardee’s canned pasta, which normally would not make it a ringing endorsement in my book.  HOWEVER, the kids totally loved it.  And the more I had, the more I loved it too.  Slightly rich, hearty, and low in calories, this soup might be one of our new favorite things.

After replacing the dairy ingredients in the original recipe (butter, parmesan, half and half) with non-dairy counter parts (non-dairy butter, Daiya mozzarella, soy cream), I was worried that the resulting soup would not be thick and creamy enough.  To make sure that the soup was not too thin, I added ingredients in two batches, pureeing the first half to create a thicker base.  The resulting flavor and texture was terrific, helped to thicken up the soup, and allowed me to reduce some of the fat and calorie-laden ingredients (this recipe is about 35% lower in calories than the original).  This recipe makes a pretty big batch of soup, which worked out great here because it has been requested for dinner and lunch several times.  I’m not sure if it will freeze well, and this time, I won’t even have the chance to try.

Creamy Italian Crockpot Soup
Serving size: 1 c.
Serves: 11

2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes, divided
1-1/2 c. carrots, cut into bite-sized bits, divided
1 stalk celery, cut into chunks
1/4 c. onion, cut into big chunks
1 clove garlic
1/4 c. fresh herbs (mix of basil and oregano)
4 c. chicken broth
2 T. non-dairy margarine
1/4 c. flour
1 c. soy cream
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 c. Daiya mozzerella
Salt and pepper to taste

Add one can tomatoes, half the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, herbs, and chicken broth to a crockpot.  Cook on low for 5 hours.  After 5 hours, use a hand blender to puree the soup until no chunks remain.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter.  Add flour and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add cream and stir until the flour mixture breaks up into the liquid and becomes a thick sauce.  Add 1 c. of soup from the crockpot, stirring until well-combined.  Add another cup of soup from the crockpot if any doughy chunks remain.  When everything has been combined and the sauce has thickened, add to the crockpot and stir.  Add remaining tomatoes, carrots, cannellini beans, and mozzerella, then stir to combine.  Cover and cook for an additional hour.



Estimated calories:  143 cal/serving

Print it: Creamy Italian Crockpot Soup

– If you would like to replace my non-dairy replacements with dairy versions, I’d recommend using butter, shredded part-skim mozzerella, and half and half in the same amounts noted here.

Creamy Chicken Soup

8 Mar

Earlier this week I spotted a recipe for Creamy Roast Chicken and Rice Soup at Fuss Free Cooking that sounded really good.  I LOVE creamy soups, but rarely make them because they can be a bit heavy and sometimes lose a little in the non-dairy translation.  This recipe, however, was ALREADY non-dairy and did not require any substitutes.  The trick here is genius – instead of adding cream or non-dairy cream, cook rice until it is mushy and then puree it to make a creamy base.  I loved the idea, but have to admit, that I doubted that it would work OR taste good.  I WAS WRONG.

I modified the recipe from the original to make a stock, added the meat that was used in the process, threw in some vegetables, and finished the soup in the crockpot.  As far as crockpot recipes go, this is a speedy one, which makes it perfect for those days when you have a little time but not the entire day for your meal to cook on the countertop.  This soup is very tasty, and as an added bonus, SUPER low in calories.  This recipe makes approximately 9 c. of soup, and each serving is only 157 calories.  Compare that to a regular cream of chicken soup which comes in around 240 cal for the same amount, and what you have is not only a tasty meal but a calorie saving jackpot.

This recipe was popular at our house, and I’d highly recommend it.

Creamy Chicken Soup
Serving size: 1 c.
Serves: 9

1 T. olive oil
3 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
1/2 c. carrots
1 stalk celery, leaves included, coarsely chopped
1/2 onion, quartered
7 c. water
1 c. uncooked jasmati rice
1-1/2 c. carrots, chopped
1 c. frozen corn
Salt and pepper
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook on each side for 3-4 minutes, or until browned. Add carrots, celery, and onion and stir, then cook for 2-3 minutes. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 1 hour. Remove chicken and set aside to cool slightly. Strain stock and discard solids. When chicken has cooled, remove meat and chop into bite sized bits, discard skin and bones.

Add stock and uncooked rice to a crockpot. Cook on low for one hour. When rice is cooked, puree with a hand blender. Add reserved chicken, carrots, and corn. Cook for at least one hour on low, adding water if it gets too thick.

Estimated calories: 157 cal/serving

Print it: Creamy Chicken Soup

Creamy Cucumbers with Tomato & Mint

5 Sep

If you have a garden, or if your neighbor has a garden, there’s a good chance that you are staring down a pile of cucumbers.  This time of year, the novelty of fresh cucumbers has worn off just enough that simply salting them and placing them on a plate for a snack or side is no longer enough.  The days of enjoying the crisp light flavor is over, now you need to make your way through them and get everyone else in the neighborhood to do the same.  I picked a few from my mom’s garden this weekend, each one so long that when lined up on the countertop it looked like I was manufacturing temporary peg legs for vegan pirates.  Long cucumber story short: we have a lot of cucumbers.

Many cultures have dishes that combine cream and cucumbers.  One of my favorites comes from my friend Sevda’s mom, who makes a dish with wilted cucumbers, cream and sugar.  It is deliciously light in flavor, but not all that low in calories.  I decided to start out with the same basic approach used in that dish by wilting the cucumbers in salt slightly before assembling the final dish.  To make the dish a bit healthier, I used fat-free Greek yogurt in place of the cream – this added a bit more body, a slightly sour flavor, and some protein to the dish.  And as long as I was making changes, I decided to add some flavors from traditional Turkish cucumber dishes, and threw in some mint and garlic.  The resulting recipe no longer resembled either sources of inspiration, but was a tasty compilation.

Creamy Cucumbers with Tomato & Mint
Serves: 4

2 c. cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
Kosher salt
1 c. fat-free Greek yogurt
1/2 c. tomatoes, diced
1/4 c. onions, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 T. fresh mint, sliced
2 t. honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the cucumbers in a bowl and sprinkle with salt, stir to combine.  Place in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes so that the cucumbers will wilt slightly.  Rinse thoroughly, and then drain excess liquid.  Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Estimated Calories:  60 cal/serving

Print it: Creamy Cucumbers

– To make this a complete meal, consider adding cooked shrimp or cannellini beans
– To add more nutrients, serve on top of mixed greens
– To soak up the delicious sauce, toast a baguette and rub a clove of garlic over the cut surface, then serve on the side

Chicken Kofte Kabobs with Creamy Cucumber Sauce

19 Jul

A few years ago I received a Turkish cookbook from my college roommate’s mother.  Knowing how much I loved cooking, she thought I would enjoy learning more about Turkish foods and how to prepare them.  She was right, but I didn’t count on the learning curve.  There were two main things that gave me trouble: 1) everything in the cookbook was in grams so it required math every time I planned a meal (note: math is not hard, but dude, still math), and 2) there were a lot of ingredients I could not readily identify.  One ingredient that gave me a lot of trouble is one called Kofte Spice.  It isn’t found on American grocery store shelves, and I couldn’t find any definitive info on the Internet.  That left me with one (and really, really good) solution – email Mrs. Bulut for more information. 

Through a series of emails she explained to me that Kofte Spice would vary in content based on the region in which it is used.  In Turkey, it consists of a mixture of dried herbs and spices – mint, oregano, parsley, salt, cumin, pepper, coriander, ground cloves, and nutmeg.  We discussed the proportions of each herb and spice to create the blend that would be most like the kind used in Turkish cooking.  We landed on a combination that was flavorful and delicious.

So last week, when I picked up a package of Gold’n Plump Ground Chicken, I decided to give this recipe another try.  Different than traditional Turkish Kofte (uses lamb or beef, and is formed into football-like shapes and pan-fried), I decided to make a few changes and good use of the abundance of herbs growing in my garden.  The resulting recipe was delicious – and like many State Fair foods have proven, kids will eat anything that is served on a stick.  This recipe was light and flavorful, and meal prep was shortened by making most of it a day ahead and doing the final cooking at dinnertime.

Chicken Kofte Kabobs with Creamy Cucumber Sauce
Serves: 4
Serving Size:  Two skewers, ¼ cucumber, ½ Roma tomato, big scoop of sauce

1 lb. ground chicken
2 T. fresh oregano, finely chopped
2 T. parsley, finely chopped
1 T. fresh mint, finely chopped
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. cumin
20 turns freshly ground black pepper
1/8 t. coriander
1/8 t. ground cloves

3/4 c. Greek yogurt
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
2 T. fresh mint, finely chopped
2 T. chives, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 t. kosher salt

1 cucumber, sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, halved and sliced

Combine chicken, oregano, parsley, and mint until well mixed.   In a separate bowl, combine salt through cloves.  Add to chicken mixture and mix until fully incorporated.  Place in refrigerator for at least an hour, up to one day ahead.  One hour before cooking time, soak 8 bamboo skewers in water.  Then, when ready, preheat oven to 350° F.  Just before cooking, spray broiler pan with cooking spray.  Divide chicken mixture into eight portions and roll into an oblong shape, then place on skewer.  Add all the kabobs to the broiler pan and cook for 25 minutes, turning once.  Remove and let cool a minute before serving.

Mix together all of the sauce ingredients and refrigerate for at least an hour, and up to 24 hours ahead. Place on a plate with sliced sides and add two chicken kabobs to each plate.

• This meal was pretty light. Next time, I might add a pita and some lettuce to the meal – either all tucked inside the pita, or served on a plate.
• To make this non-dairy, substitute non-dairy sour cream for Greek yogurt.

Estimated Calories:  257 cal/serving

Print it: Chicken Kofte Kabobs with Creamy Cucumber Sauce

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

13 Jun

Last night’s dinner plan was based on two factors:
1. I was kind of tired and didn’t feel like doing a whole lot of cooking
2. I had a lot of leftovers in the refrigerator, and really didn’t want them to go to waste

Instead of making the meal I had planned, I decided to make a noodle casserole using some of the leftover items I had on hand.  The prep work for this recipe is made easier if you happen to have these items as leftovers, but if you don’t, it is still pretty fast work to cook the chicken, noodles, broccoli and carrots.  The sauce is light and creamy with a slight mustard flavor – sort of like Chicken Divan, but much lighter and non-dairy. 

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
Serves: 4 small servings
Serving Size: Approx. 1 c.

6 oz. cooked chicken breast, diced
2 c. broccoli florets, cooked
1 c. carrots, cooked
2 green onion tops, sliced
1 c. cooked noodles
1/4 c. non-dairy sour cream
2 T. water
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. reduced-fat mayo
2 T. non-dairy cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, add chicken, broccoli, carrots, green onions, and noodles.  Stir to combine.

In a small bowl, combine sour cream, water, mustard, lemon juice and mayo.  Stir until well mixed.  Pour over the chicken mixture and stir until everything is evenly coated.  Add cheese, and stir again.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon chicken mixture into a 9 x 9 pan or similar sized casserole dish.  Cover and bake for 20 minutes.  Let sit for five minutes, stir, and serve.

1. If making a non-dairy dish is not important to you, feel free to substitute dairy counterparts for the sour cream and cheese.  I’d recommend fat-free sour cream and part-skim mozzarella to keep the calories low.
2. The serving size for this dish is pretty small.  I found that 1/4 of the recipe was the perfect amount for each of the kids.

Estimated Calories:  150 cal/serving

Print it: Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

Worth Noting: I’ve recently discovered a non-dairy cheese that is our new favorite.  It has great flavor, even for those who can eat dairy.  It has the texture that is more like fresh mozzarella and melts better than any other non-dairy cheese we’ve ever tried.  Bonus that it doesn’t stink.  If you are allergic to dairy or are lactose intolerant, this might be your new favorite thing.  More info > Daiya