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From the food editor: Four New Year's cooking resolutions for 2017

Soups are easy and filling. Just look at the recipe for Broccoli Cheddar Soup.

Washington Post

Soups are easy and filling. Just look at the recipe for Broccoli Cheddar Soup.

There comes a point every December when I am up to my eyeballs in wrapping paper, cookies and the (stressful) excitement the holidays bring. That's when I, without fail, turn to food options I don't have to think about: frozen meals, pizza, more cookies.

And by the end of the month, I am actually craving a healthful plate of food.

Well, overindulgence has struck again. This week's recipe attempts to be an antidote to that, a creamy soup that is lush and satisfying but still pretty wholesome.

I'm also partaking in another annual tradition this week: making New Year's cooking resolutions.

Here are four that are at the top of my list as we head into a new year.

Make better use of fresh fruits and vegetables: Raise your hand if you've ever thrown away a cringe-worthy amount of fresh produce that has been sitting in your fridge so long it's no longer usable. It's a problem in my house, and one I want to work on by trying to use these foods daily. Or, at the very least, cooking a larger quantity at one time and parceling them out through the week, in casseroles and soups. Speaking of ...

Make more soups: They're easy! They're filling! They are a good way to use up said rotting vegetables! One of the things I did this Thanksgiving that really helped on the day of was pre-chopping onions, carrots and celery. Doing this on a weekend in January can also help, making it easier to throw together a weeknight stew.

Cook with more butter: The other day, I stopped and thought about what it is about most restaurant preparation that makes the food taste so much better than what I cook at home. The answer is always butter, isn't it? (And salt.) I'm going to be less precious with the fat, and work a pat in to jazz up couscous or make a pan sauce for chicken. Even a little bit truly goes a long way toward making home cooking as inviting as a $20 dinner out.

Stop putting so much pressure on myself to cook: I know, it sounds weird to make a cooking resolution like this. But some nights, you just don't have the time or patience to stand in the kitchen for an hour. And that's okay. I'm going to try to focus on making one part of the meal great. If I spend time cooking pork chops in a cast iron skillet, maybe I'll pair that with a bagged salad, or a boxed rice mix. It'll get the job done.

Contact Michelle Stark at mstark@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8829. Follow @mstark17.

easy

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large head broccoli, florets and tender part of stems, chopped (about 6 cups)
  • 3 cups no-salt-added chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup canned, no-salt-added Great Northern or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup low-fat (1 percent) milk
  • 1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (3 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon powdered mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, stir in the onion and cook for about 4 minutes, until tender but not browned.
  2. Add the broccoli, broth and beans; increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Let the soup cool for 15 minutes, then puree it in a blender in three batches, until smooth. Wipe out the saucepan as needed.
  4. Return the blended soup to the saucepan over medium heat. Once the soup is bubbling at the edges, reduce the heat to low. Stir in the milk, 3/4 cup of the cheese, the powdered mustard and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook until just warmed through.
  5. Taste and add more salt as needed. Divide among individual bowls or deep mugs, and garnish with portions using the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese. Serve hot. Serves 4.
Source: Ellie Krieger

From the food editor: Four New Year's cooking resolutions for 2017 12/26/16 [Last modified: Friday, December 23, 2016 12:24pm]
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