Lighter Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Lighter Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Happy 2018! I’m so excited to be back at creating content after a very busy holiday season! This recipe is inspired by everyone’s favorite New Year’s Resolution to hate: to start eating better. While I’ve given up on dieting as a concept – I’ve discovered that it makes me profoundly miserable – everyone likes to eat healthier if it’s delicious and painless. This soup is perfect to help you start 2018 off with your resolutions going strong.

Adapted from a recipe in the Washington Post, originally by Ellie Krieger, it’s the lightest broccoli cheddar soup you could make, with all of the flavor and richness of a soup that’s usually heavy on cream and cheese. Cannellini beans are the star of this show, blending together perfectly to substitute for a lot of that heavy cream. I’d never even eaten a cannellini bean before experimenting with this recipe, so I can attest, with no long-harbored love of them, that they really don’t alter the flavor of the soup at all – just the texture and creaminess. Shelled chickpeas work just as well in this recipe, so you could use those instead. My changes to the original recipe are mostly changes to the seasonings. With so much of the fat removed from this recipe, it felt like it needed a good flavor boost, and I’m very happy with how it turned out.

I’ll admit that when I make this soup, I think to myself that it’s so healthy, it won’t matter if I top it with a little extra (read: way too much) cheddar cheese. Cheddar is in the name, after all. Every year, my brother makes a New Year’s resolution to eat a Five Guys burger at least once a month for the whole year, and I’ve found that really inspiring. Imagine making a resolution that you know for sure that you’ll be able to keep – and thoroughly enjoy! So, I’m resolving to have extra cheese on my food whenever I feel I should. I’ll let you know how it goes. My other resolution is to save money, so my husband and I can buy our first house this year, so this recipe is about to become even more of a staple in our home. It’s the least expensive way to make broccoli cheddar soup – especially if you make your own chicken stock, as I do. I guess you could call this double-whammy broccoli cheddar soup, since it’s easy on the wallet and the scale. Are you sold yet? I’m adding more broccoli to my grocery list as I type this.

You can play around with the amount of milk and cheese you add, depending on just how calorie conscious you want to be with it – you already know what I suggest doing. You can also blend it until it’s completely smooth, or opt to leave chunks of broccoli, if you’re into that. Either way it’s a perfect starter or lunch, especially served with some kind of cheesy roll or toasty garlic bread.

I’m well aware that my cheese obsession is out of hand. Don’t send help.

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Lighter Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Adapted from Broccoli Cheddar Soup, by Ellie Krieger, as printed in the Washington Post.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 large head of broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces about 6 cups
  • 1 14.5oz can cannelini beans or chick peas
  • 1 tsp powdered mustard
  • 2 1/2 tsps salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground thyme
  • 1/8 tsp ground sage
  • 3/4 cup 1% milk
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for garnishes

Instructions

  1. Add onion and butter to a large pot and cook over medium heat until onions soften and start to brown.

    2. Add the chicken broth, broccoli and beans. Turn heat up to high and allow the soup to come to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and allow to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally .

    3. Let the soup cool slightly, and then blend until smooth (I used my NutriBullet, as always) and return to the pot. Stir in the milk and cheese until well combined. Serve immediately and garnish with extra cheese on top.

 





Sunshine Curry Crispy Chicken Sandwiches

Sunshine Curry Crispy Chicken Sandwiches

Sandwiches are my favorite food. Hands down, no question – food enveloped in other food is the best way to eat anything. I’m including quesadillas and hot dogs in this category because I love them, but I promise I won’t fight you if you don’t believe they’re sandwiches. One thing I think we can all agree on is that a really good crispy chicken sandwich is one of the best things in life. When I’ve got flavorful breading with a nice crunch surrounding moist, perfectly cooked chicken, all enveloped in a hearty roll with delicious toppings, there is almost nothing I would rather eat.

Marinating chicken in a sour cream mixture is a great way to help ensure that the chicken stays tender through the cooking process. When I was working on my Sunshine Curry Dip recipe, it occurred to me that it would make a delicious chicken marinade, so I plopped a bunch into a Ziplock with a couple of raw chicken breasts, and let it sit overnight to get all delicious. I breaded the chicken and baked it in the oven, because I’m not always up for the process that is deep frying. Not having a deep fryer, I just do it on the stove, and it’s a bit of a mess – really only worth it when I’m making food for people besides myself and Bobby. So, baked crispy chicken sandwiches are where it’s at these days.

It goes without saying that baking something in the oven will never yield the same results as frying it. However, there are a lot of methods out there for baking chicken to get perfectly crispy breading that doesn’t get soggy or fall apart. For this recipe, I dried my chicken breasts with paper towel to remove a lot of the marinade, leaving just enough to help the breading stick. Then I dredged the chicken pieces in the breadcrumbs, set them on a cooling rack, and refrigerated the whole thing for about a half hour. Here’s the really important part: I took the cooling rack out of the refrigerator, plopped the whole thing on a tray lined with foil, and lightly spritzed each piece of chicken with olive oil spray. This method keeps the chicken from sitting directly on the tray, so the breading on the underside doesn’t get soft. Another bonus is that you barely need to use any oil: just a quick spray on each side (flip them gently) was enough for beautiful color and proper crispiness.

For the breading, I put curry powder along with salt, pepper, and paprika into some Italian breadcrumbs, to help the flavor from the marinade really shine through. I topped my sandwiches with avocado mashed with a little lime and cayenne, and a cabbage slaw, which is really just the Sunshine Curry Dip stirred in with shredded cabbage, to give the sandwich a little extra crunch and tang. (‘Crunch and Tang’ sounds like one of those weird animal duos, like a bear who is bffs with a monkey). The tart flavor of the cabbage slaw works beautifully with the mild avocado, and the combination of textures from the toppings and the crispy chicken really make this sandwich a winner.

This concept would be easy to double/triple for a large group. You could just set the chicken out on a platter and let everyone go nuts with the toppings. This idea works especially well for picky eaters. Apparently there are people in the world who don’t want avocado on a sandwich – you really meet all kinds these days. I served these sandwiches with potato chips, but you could just as easily throw a salad on the side, if you’re not trying to completely ruin your diet. Although I mean, the chicken is baked, and cabbage and avocado are involved, so this sandwich is basically a salad all by itself. I’ll leave it at that and let you contemplate if a salad on bread is still a salad. Although your head probably still hurts from trying to decide if a quesadilla is a sandwich.




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Sunshine Curry Crispy Chicken Sandwiches

Servings 4 sandwiches

Ingredients

Sunshine Curry Dip (Marinade)

  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 6 Tbsps Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tsps curry powder
  • 1 1/2 tsps Sriracha
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsps white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 Sunshine Spice Blend

Sunshine Curry Crispy Chicken Sandwiches

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 avocados, mashed
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 4 sandwich rolls

Instructions

  1. Mix together all of the ingredients for the Sunshine Curry Dip. Add about 1 cup to a gallon-size Ziplock bag. Slice each chicken breast into 3-4 large pieces, and add to the bag. Seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, overnight if possible. 

    2. Stir together bread crumbs, curry powder, paprika, turmeric, 1 tsp of salt, and the pepper in a shallow bowl. When you are ready to bread the chicken, remove pieces from the marinade and wipe most of the marinade off - leave just a little to help the breading stick. Dredge them in the breadcrumb mixture until well coated, and set them on a cooling rack. Place the cooling rack in the refrigerator for half an hour, to help the breading set further. 

    3. Remove the cooling rack from the refrigerator, and place on a baking sheet lined with foil. Lightly spray each piece of chicken with olive oil cooking spray, and bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven, gently flip the pieces of chicken, and give them another spray of olive oil. Bake in the oven for another 8 minutes. 

    4. While the chicken is baking, prepare the toppings. Mash together the avocado, red pepper flakes, 1/4 tsp salt, lime juice, and red pepper flakes, and set aside. Stir the shredded cabbage into 1/3 cup of the leftover Sunshine Curry Dip. 

    5. When the chicken is done, allow to cool slightly, and then build your sandwiches.