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Weekday dinner inspirations: Fast Potato Leek Soup with Bacon

Mon | Boats of goodness

I've been buying lots of flavorful Hass avocados lately. So delicious! For a ladies-who-lunch kind of dinner, make Shrimp Salad Boats using the tiny salad shrimp. Mix it with chopped celery, fresh dill, mayonnaise (or tangy, plain Greek yogurt), lemon juice and zest. Season with salt and pepper, then scoop it into avocado halves. Serve them California-style with big hunks of sourdough.

Tues | Splurge night

Fast Potato Leek Soup with Bacon (recipe below) is a splurge based on calories, rather than money. It's a luxurious soup, thanks to the heavy cream, but you can experiment with low-fat or fat-free varieties. I always like to follow the recipe first, though, before experimenting as the mad kitchen scientist. A small green salad on the side might assuage your guilt. I said might.

Wed | Rotisserie chicken

Shredded Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches are quick to the table on a hectic hump day. Shred the chicken and mix with your favorite barbecue sauce. Scoop onto sturdy buns with a heaping pile of cole slaw. (If you get store-bought, let it sit in a wire strainer for a bit to remove excess water and dressing.) You'll need something crunchy on the side, so carrot, celery and cucumber sticks with Ranch dip is a friendly accompaniment.

Thurs | Good cod

Serve Italian Crumbed Baked Cod with couscous and steamed broccoli. Make the crumb topping for the fish by mixing dried Italian bread crumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Brush the top of the fillets with mayo mixed with lemon juice. Divide the crumb mixture evenly and mound atop the fillets; bake 10 to 12 minutes at 450 degrees.

Fri | Tastes like more

Ginger-Sesame Chicken Thighs with scallion rice and sauteed spinach is good kickoff meal for the weekend. Marinate boneless, skinless chicken thighs in store-bought ginger-sesame marinade. I let mine meld in the fridge overnight. Let some of the marinade drip off, then brown the chicken (about 3 minutes each side) in an oven-proof skillet. Finish then off in a 350-degree oven. In the 20 minutes that takes, cook the rice and saute the spinach. If you've got sesame oil, drizzle it over the spinach when it's cooked. Garnish rice with scallions.

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Fast Potato Leek Soup with Bacon

4 slices bacon, diced

1 tablespoon butter

2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups water

2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 cups frozen peas (do not thaw)

Big garlic croutons for garnish

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Cook the bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Discard all but about 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan. Add the butter, then add the leeks and garlic; cover and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, water, potatoes and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

Puree half the soup in a blender (remove the filler cap to let steam escape), then return to the pot. Add cream and bring to a simmer. Add the peas and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with bacon, croutons and parsley.

Nutritional information per serving: 446 calories; 25 gm fat (13 gm saturated); 555 mg sodium; 42 gm carbohydrate; 6 gm fiber and 15 gm protein.

Source: Food Network magazine

Weekday dinner inspirations: Fast Potato Leek Soup with Bacon 03/29/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 4:30am]
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