Recovery lunch

Somehow, some way, it happened. A little head cold sneaked up on me and found a home in my nose. Before it can make a permanent home I am ensuring that it will be up for eviction compliments of some good wholesome soup. I have decided that I'll try tomato instead of my standard chicken noodle soup. I'm not feeling chunky meat, veggies and noodles is what my body needs. I need a big super shot of vitamin C and lycopene to sock it to that cold. Doped up on the Dayquil I set myself to cook up some good soup. I decided on a tomato bisque. Yeah, yeah, dairy isn't good when you have a cold, I know. However I used very little and the extra calcium is an added bonus. I'm packing in nutrients as best I can in that little stock pot.

I began by chopping and sauteing a large onion in about 2T olive oil over medium high heat. Once the onion softened I added 1 generous tablespoon of minced (jarred) garlic. I let that saute for about a minute. I added a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes and incorporated it with the onion, garlic and olive oil mixture. Meanwhile I chopped 2 fresh palm sized tomatoes and dumped that into the pot. I set the temperature to medium low and let the tomatoes cook down a bit. While that simmered I chopped some fresh basil, about six to eight leaves. I added 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk and one cup of milk. I added 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. I gave that a good stir and tossed in the basil. I let the soup simmer about 15 minutes. I used my immersion blender to puree the mixture to break down the tomato and onion chunks. While the soup was cooking I made a salad. The recipe is from the Jan/Feb 2008 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

Wild rice and barley salad

1 3/4 cups fat free less sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup uncooked brown & wild rice mix
1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley
3/4 cup rinsed and drained canned chickpeas
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup sliced green onions
2 T red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons EVOO
1 teaspoon Dijion mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 T chopped fresh basil
2 T slivered almonds, toasted

*Note* I did not add the raisins I loathe them so I increased the chickpeas to 1 full cup.

Makes about 8 2/3 cup servings. 146 calories, 2.3g fat, 5g protein, 27.6g carbs, 4.3g fiber, 0mg cholesterol, 29mg calcium, 1.2mg iron, 235mg sodium.

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Spoon mixture into a medium bowl. Add chickpeas, raisins and green onions. Combine vinegar and next 4 ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Pour over barley mixture; toss well. Cover; chill 2 hours. Stir in basil and almonds.

Since I had about a quarter cup of chickpeas left over I tossed them into my soup bowl and ladled some bisque over them. It was a filling and delicious lunch. The red pepper flakes gave the bisque enough spice to compliment the tomato flavor without that punch you in the mouth spiciness. I'll give the salad a try after it has chilled, but even the bite I tried while it was warm was very good, after it has chilled it will be even better.


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