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Weekday dinner inspiration: Lighter Onion Soup With Cheese Toasts

Mon | Meatless meal

Make the family a pot of Cuban Black Bean Stew With Rice and you'll be lucky if you have leftovers for lunch the next day. Prepare brown or white rice and while that's working, make the stew. Saute chopped onions, a diced red bell pepper and a couple of cloves of garlic in olive oil until very soft, about 10 minutes. Add 2 (15-ounce) cans of drained and rinsed black beans, 1 (15-ounce) can vegetable broth, a tablespoon of cider vinegar and ½ teaspoon of dried oregano. Let simmer for a bit and smash some of the beans with the back of a wooden spoon to thicken the soup. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with rice and chopped cilantro, thinly sliced radishes and lime wedges.

Tues | Oktoberfest, y'all

I promise I won't go German on you all month but October is the time to celebrate sausages, beer and oom-pah-pah music. Bratwurst and Kale is seasonal, hearty and slightly German all at once. Saute chopped kale in a mild wheat beer and when it's wilted to your taste, stir in a couple of teaspoons of vinegar. Add 2-inch pieces of bratwurst, heat through and serve with spicy mustard and hearty brown bread.

Wed | Rotisserie chicken

Shred the breast meat of your rotisserie bird for Peanut Noodles With Chicken and save the dark meat for another use. (Chicken salad for one.) Cook spaghetti according to package directions and when that's done, toss it with peanut sauce, such as Jade. Taste before you use and doctor with a little soy sauce (if it's too sweet) or hot sauce (if you want the spice). Add chicken and matchstick-cut carrots and cucumbers. Garnish with chopped peanuts and sliced scallions.

Thurs | Breath mint, meal

Lighter Onion Soup With Cheese Toasts (recipe below) from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food Light cuts back on the calories and fat by reducing the butter. This is a filling meal, especially with the accompaniment of a green salad.

Fri | Dining out at home

Here's a Stir Crazy favorite: Use up the Italian salad dressing in the fridge by turning it into marinade for flank steak. Serve your Grilled Italian Flank Steak with frozen steak fries and an iceberg wedge salad dripping with chunky blue cheese. It's almost like going out.

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at jkeeler@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8586. Follow @roadeats on Twitter.

>>MODERATE

Lighter Onion Soup With Cheese Toasts

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 pounds onions (about 8 medium), halved and thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Coarse salt and ground pepper

½ cup port or Marsala wine

2 (14.5-ounce) cans low-sodium beef broth

2 (14.5-ounce) cans low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups water, plus more if needed

For the cheese toasts:

8 slices (½-inch-thick) baguette

1 cup (4 ounces) coarsely grated Gruyere cheese

In a 5-quart Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat butter and oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have softened, 12 to 15 minutes.

Uncover and continue to cook, lowering heat and stirring occasionally until onions are dark golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes more. (If bottom of pot gets too dry, add about ¼ cup water and scrape up browned bits with a wooden spoon.)

Add port and cook until syrupy, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in both broths and 2 cups water, season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cook 20 minutes.

While soup is simmering, make cheese toasts. Heat broiler, with rack 4 inches from heat. Place baguette slices on a baking sheet. Divide cheese evenly among the slices and broil until cheese is golden, 2 to 4 minutes.

To serve, divide among eight bowls and top each with a cheese toast.

Freezing soup: Let soup cool completely, then pour into airtight containers (without cheese toasts), leaving 1 inch of space at the top. Freeze up to 3 months. Thaw in microwave or overnight in refrigerator and reheat over low.

Nutritional information per serving: 261 calories, 12g fat, 11g protein, 26g carbohydrates, 4g fiber.

Serves 8.

Source: Everyday Food Light from Martha Stewart Living Kitchens (Clarkson Potter, 2011)

Weekday dinner inspiration: Lighter Onion Soup With Cheese Toasts 10/07/13 [Last modified: Monday, October 7, 2013 4:24pm]

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