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Dining In: Battle the cold days of January with hot soup



Shrimp & Veggie Lovers' Chowder
   2 1/2 c. cubed, peeled potatoes
   2 c. frozen whole kernel corn, divided
   1 c. frozen sliced carrots
   2 cloves garlic, minced
   2 1/2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
   2 1/2 c. frozen broccoli cuts
   3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
   1/4 tsp. salt
   1/4 tsp. pepper
   2 c. skim milk
   1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen, cooked shrimp (or use one 8-oz. pkg surimi seafood)
   1 c. shredded, reduced fat sharp Cheddar cheese

   Combine potatoes, 1 c. corn, carrots, garlic, and chicken broth in a large Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring frequently. Transfer to a food processor; process until smooth. Return puree to Dutch oven; add remaining corn and broccoli. Cover for 10 minutes.
   Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a small bowl; gradually add milk, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir into chowder. Add shrimp. Cook over medium heat 10 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in cheese until melted. Serve hot.

Vegetarian Chili
   1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
   2 cloves garlic, minced
   1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
   1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
   2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) ready-cut tomatoes, undrained
   3 Tbsp. Red Wine Herb & Vinegar dressing
   1 tsp. ground oregano
   1 tsp. ground cumin
   1 Tbsp. chili powder
   1 can (15 oz.) black beans, undrained
   1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans, drained
   1 can (15 1/4 oz.) red kidney beans, drained
   1 can (15 oz.) pinquitos, undrained
   Garnish (optional): shredded cheddar cheese and sliced avocado

   Heat oil in a large kettle; add garlic, onion, and bell pepper. Saute over medium-high heat, until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add tomatoes, dressing, seasonings, and beans; stir well to combine. Cover and simmer 5-10 minutes; spoon into bowls and garnish with cheese and avocado, if desired.

Oyster Stew
   3 slices firm-textured white bread, cut into 1-inch squares
   1 tsp. unsalted butter
   1/4 c. minced shallots or scallion whites
   2/3 c. dry white wine
   36 oysters, shucked, 1 c. liquor reserved (plus bottled clam juice, if needed, optional)
   1 c. water
   1 c. evaporated low-fat milk
   1/2 tsp. salt
   1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
   1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
   2 tsp. cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbsp. water
   1/4 tsp. paprika
   2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

   Preheat the oven to 400 F. Spread the bread on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes, or until lightly golden and crisp. Set aside. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the shallots or scallions and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the wine, increase the heat to high, and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
   In a measuring cup, combine the reserved 1 c. oyster liquor (if you don't have enough oyster liquor, add enough clam juice to make 1 cup) and 1 c. water. Stir the liquor mixture, evaporated milk, salt, black pepper, and cayenne into the shallot mixture and bring to a boil.
   Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Reduce to a simmer, slip the oysters into the pan, and cook just until the edges are curled, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the paprika. Ladle the oyster stew into 4 bowls, sprinkle the croutons and parsley on top, and serve.
   Helpful hints: Since fresh oysters are so delicate, this stew is best served immediately after preparation. On the day you plan to make the stew, have your fishmonger shuck the oysters, reserving the liquor.

Three Bean Chili
   1/2 c. chopped celery
   1/4 c. chopped green onion
   2 tsp. oil
   1 can (15 oz.) chili without beans
   1 can (15 oz.) chili with beans
   1 can (15 oz.) black beans with their juice
   1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans or great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
   4 Tbsp. dairy sour cream
   4 Tbsp. medium hot salsa
   Chopped cilantro to taste

   Saute celery and green onion in oil in medium saucepan. Add chilies, black beans, and garbanzo beans. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls. Top each with 1 Tbsp. of sour cream and 1 tsp. of salsa. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, if desired.