Saturday, March 17, 2012

Broccoli Cheese Soup and Tomato Pesto Bruschetta

As much as I love high-quality meat, I try to make meat-free meals a few times a week. It's not only good for health, it's good for the environment. This is a flavorful and satisfying meat-free meal that would be excellent for a lunch of dinner. The Broccoli Cheese Soup is simple to prepare and tastes decadent due to the melted cheddar cheese, but it is made figure-friendly with  loads of broccoli, chicken stock and 1% milk. Served with pretzel bread for dipping you can eat it for days! On the side I made a delicious Tomato Pesto Bruschetta that is absolutely bursting with flavor. Enjoy this scrumptious vegetarian meal- I guarantee you won't miss the meat!

Broccoli Cheese Soup
A delicious way to eat your veggies!
Serves 4

2 cups chicken broth
1 onion, diced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups 1% milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, preferably sharp 3 cups chopped, lightly steamed or blanched broccoli

Simmer chicken broth and chopped onion for 15-20 minutes in a covered small saucepan, until onions are soft. Heat milk in microwave for 1-2 minutes. In a separate medium-sized stockpot, melt butter then add flour, salt and pepper. Cook together, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, then whisk in warmed milk. Stir and heat together on medium heat until soup starts to thicken, about 5-8 minutes. Add warmed chicken broth and continue to stir until well blended. Add cheeses and stir until completely melted. Stir in seamed broccoli. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately in bowls or bread bowls, or keep warm over low heat on stove until ready to serve, stirring occasionally.

Recipe adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Tomato Pesto Bruschetta
Fresh and flavorful any time of day!
Serves 4

4 roma tomatoes, seeds removed, chopped
1/2 red onion, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley or basil, chopped
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
French bread, divided into12 slices (3 each)
1/2 cup pesto
Kosher salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, for topping

Heat oven on broil. Arrange bread on a baking sheet and broil until slightly browned and crisp, about 2-4 minutes. Keep an eye on it to ensure it doesnt burn. Remove from oven and allow to cool, then spread some pesto on each slice.
Meanwhile, add balsamic vinegar to a small skillet over medium-high heat. Allow it to gently bubble and reduce by half. Set aside.

Combine tomatoes, onions, and herbs in a bowl. Add an even amount of the mixture to each slice of bread. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle reduced balsamic vinegar over bruschetta, and top with grated parmesan. Enjoy!

Recipe by Sarah Lang

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