Summer Soups

We've had record high temperatures here in the Queen City already ~ 80 degrees and it's only mid-March! This time of year we are typically wearing heavy sweaters and scarves instead of wearing sleeveless tops, capris and flip flops. It's unbelievable and I love it. My flower gardens are weeded (for at least a day or two), my vegetable garden is mostly planted and I've mowed the lawn twice now (that's a chore I could do without but it comes along with the joys of home ownership.)

I find myself spending as much time as I can outside these days, happily digging in the dirt until the last rays of daylight disappear and that leaves little time for prepping dinner. Who wants to be stuck in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove during beautiful weather anyway? Soups probably aren't on the top of your dinner list during the warmer temperatures, but I eat soups year round ~ hearty ones in the cold winter months and simple, lighter fare in the summer months. This Couscous Paella Soup from Eating Well magazine is a light broth-based soup, takes only 30 minutes to prepare and is reminiscent of the flavors and ingredients of Spanish paella. It contains chicken and chorizo (or pepperoni) but you could make it even more like paella by adding some small, pre-cooked shrimp along with the chicken.

Get out of the kitchen and enjoy this fabulous weather, my friends!

Couscous Paella Soup
Eating Well
Serves 4

•1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
•1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
•1/3 cup diced onion
•1/3 cup finely diced Spanish chorizo or pepperoni
•2 large cloves garlic, minced
•8 ounces chicken tenders, diced
•4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
•1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
•Large pinch of saffron
•1/4 teaspoon salt
•1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
•1 cup water
•2/3 cup whole-wheat couscous
•1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

1.Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add bell pepper, onion, chorizo (or pepperoni) and garlic and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add chicken, broth, peas, saffron (if using), salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

2.Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in couscous, cover and remove from the heat. Let stand for 5 minutes.

3.To serve, mound about 1/2 cup couscous in each of 4 wide, shallow bowls. Ladle the soup around the couscous and sprinkle with cilantro, if using.

Per serving : 288 Calories; 9 g Fat; 2 g Sat; 5 g Mono; 39 mg Cholesterol; 31 g Carbohydrates; 23 g Protein; 6 g Fiber; 856 mg Sodium; 421 mg Potassium



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