Eating My Way Through

Hot and Sour Soup January 13, 2011

Filed under: Lunch,Soups — Nikki Wegner @ 3:18 pm

With the New Year always comes resolutions. One of mine was to post to the blog more, and so far, I have admittedly been slacking. But you have to start somewhere!

My other resolutions aren’t necessarily super specific, just to recommit to running (I signed up for my first 10-miler in April with my friend Jamie!…eeks) and eating healthy. So to kick-start the new year I have been making a lot of yummy salads and soups to get in some extra veggies.

Soups are great for healthy lunches, as long as you go for broth based soups and avoid the heavy cream! This week I made an easy version of Hot and Sour Soup to bring in to work every day. This is totally a one-pot wonder of a meal, and after some time spent washing and chopping veggies, it is ready in minutes.



To start pour some vegetable broth  in a large stock/soup pot/dutch oven. Add in some rice vinegar, soy sauce and Thai red chili and garlic paste. Look at you, you’ve already made the base of the soup!

Next you just chop up some mushrooms, onions, carrots and bok choy and add everything to the pot. Also open up your cans of bamboo shoots and water chestnuts and drain them, then add these veggies to the pot as well. To add a bit more kick, mince some garlic and grate some ginger to add.

To finish it off I usually add in some cubed tofu (I’ve found the firm variety works the best). Then all you have left to do is bring the soup ingredients to a simmer over medium heat and let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.


Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and Sour Soup


Once the soup is all done you can eat it right away, or like me, divvy it up into 5 portions for a week’s worth of lunches.

Each time I make this soup it turns out a bit different. Sometimes I have onions, sometimes I don’t. The bok choy was a new addition this last time I made it, and I loved it! This is a great soup for even the pickiest vegetable eater because you can mix and match everything. Also, if you are not a tofu fan, sauteing some chicken and adding it to the soup would also taste great. It’s up to you…cause you really can’t go wrong when it is so good for you and so easy to make!

Hot and Sour Soup

6 cups of vegetable broth (3 standard cans)

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

1 tsp Thai chili paste or Asian hot sauce (more if you want it spicier)

2 cups mushrooms (crimini or shiitake), sliced

1 can bamboo shoots

1 can water chestnuts

2 cups bok choy, chopped

1 cup carrots, chopped

1 small sweet onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp ginger root, grated

16 oz firm tofu, cut in to cubes


Prep all the veggies.

In a large soup pot combine the broth, vinegar, chili paste and soy sauce, and stir until well mixed.

Add in the mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, bok choy, carrots, onion, garlic, ginger root  and tofu.

Bring everything to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Yields 5 servings (about 2 cups)


Spicy Turkey and Black Bean Chili with Corn Bread and Honey Butter October 28, 2010

Filed under: Baking,Lunch,Soups — Nikki Wegner @ 1:40 pm

Now that I am officially only a few radio ads away from the end of political season I thought it was time to start posting again.  Though I have been baking and cooking over the last month, that is where my energy for non-work things that don’t involve alcoholic beverages end. Sad, but true.

So to kick-off the blog restart here are some recipes for chili and corn bread! The chili comes from me playing with/combining my favorite things from other chili recipes into one. I used ground turkey and beef broth, but if you are a vegetarian, simply subbing vegetable broth and tofu could work great! The corn bread is a favorite recipe of mine, and is definitely not a sweet version, so I usually top mine with some homemade honey butter.

To start spray a large skillet with cooking spray and add in onions, shallots and sugar, and cook for about 5-10 minutes until the onions are nice and caramelized then add in the green pepper and stir frequently so everything doesn’t burn. Feel free to use red or yellow peppers here. They tend to give me heartburn, because I am really a 75-year-old woman, unfortunate, yet true.

Onions and Peppers

Onions and Peppers

Once cooked, put the onion and pepper mixture in a large dutch oven or soup pot. Then re-spray the skillet with cooking spray, and add in the ground turkey and garlic, cooking until done.

Add the turkey to the pot, along with the corn and black beans and spices.


Turkey Goodness

After stirring until everything is well combined, add in the tomatoes and broth and stir. Let everything come to a boil then reduce to a simmer, covering partially with a lid.

Chili Simmering

Chili Simmering

While your chili is cooking, start the corn bread! Pre-heat your oven and spray a square baking dish.

Then in a large bowl combine the dry ingredients: cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and baking sod. Whisk together with a fork, then make a well in the center.

Dry Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: buttermilk, corn, egg whites and oil.


Wet Ingredients

Wet Ingredients


Combine the wet ingredients with the dry by pouring the mixture into the well, then stir until combined.

Pour into your baking pan and smooth the top.


Corn Bread Ready for Baking

Corn Bread Ready for Baking


Bake the bread for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean!


Corn Bread

Corn Bread

Cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then cut into squares to serve with your chili!


The chili should be done simmering, right about the time that your cornbread is done cooling.


Spicy Turkey and Black Bean Chili

Spicy Turkey and Black Bean Chili


Remove the honey butter from the fridge and serve with the bread for a complete meal.

This meal would be great for a Saturday or Sunday football game-watching party! (Packers or Badgers preferably.) You can cook it up before your guests arrive, so the chili is finishing simmering as the corn bread is cooling! The chili is a bit spicy, and you can cut that down or make it even more by adjusting the amount of chili pepper you use. Or just serve with some cold beer, which I’ve found always helps with the heat of spicy things ;)!

Spicy Turkey and Black Bean Chili (own recipe)

1 yellow onion, diced

1 shallot, diced

1 tsp sugar

1 green pepper, diced

1 lb ground turkey

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 14-oz can black beans, drained

12 oz sweet corn, frozen & steamed

1 Tbsp ground chipotle chili pepper

1 Tbsp ground chili pepper

1 tsp oregano, dried

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

28 oz can tomatoes, diced

1 ½ cup broth (beef if you are adding the turkey, vegetable if you want to make it vegetarian!)


Spray a large skillet with olive oil cooking spray and heat.

Add in onions, shallots and sugar. Cook 5-10 minutes until caramelized, add in green pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. Stirring occasionally so everything doesn’t burn!

Transfer to a large dutch oven pot or large sauce pan.

Re-spray the skillet, then add in the turkey meat and garlic, cooking until browned. Sprinkle with salt if you want. Once fully cooked, drain any excess fat, then add the meat mixture to the large pot.

In the pot, add the black beans, corn, and spices. Mix everything together until coated with the spices.

Add in the tomatoes and broth. Bring everything to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer, then partly cover with a lid for 30 minutes.

Serve with sour cream, cheddar cheese, scallions, whatever you want!

Yields 6 servings.

Corn Bread with Honey Butter (adapted from Weight Watchers)

1 cup uncooked yellow cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

14 3/4 oz cream-style corn, canned

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 large egg whites (feel free to use egg white substitute)

2 tsp oil, corn or vegetable

8 tbsp light butter

3 tbsp honey


Pre-heat your oven to 400° and coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray.

While the oven is preheating, soften the butter in the microwave, add the honey and stir until combined. Return to the fridge to set while the cornbread cooks.

Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large bowl and mix well until combined with a fork. Make a well at the center of the mixture and set it aside.

In a smaller bowl, combine the buttermilk, corn, egg whites and oil.

Add the liquid mixture into dry ingredients, pouring it into the well you made, then stir until well mixed.

Pour the batter into the baking pan and smooth the top.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool the bread on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before serving.

Yields 8 servings.


Spicy Chipotle Corn Soup August 15, 2010

Filed under: Lunch,Soups — Nikki Wegner @ 6:49 pm

It’s the hottest summer in DC since 1993! Each day I step out of my apartment into 90 degree heat and high humidity praying that I am not a gross mess by the time I make it to work. But once I get to work, it’s a different story. My office is an icebox. My office mate and I spend our days shivering and wrapping ourselves in blankets, sweatshirts and whatever we can get our hands on to warm up.

So that is why despite the temps outside, I decided to make a vat of soup for lunch last week. On Chow, I found this recipe for Chipotle Corn Soup. I figured it was a great way to take advantage of summer’s abundance of sweet corn, and the fact that it was on sale at my grocery store was an extra bonus!

There was just one problem with my plan, the recipe called for whole milk as the soup’s base, not exactly the healthiest choice. I decided to give swapping in low-fat buttermilk for the whole milk a try. Buttermilk is a great substitute as it’s still creamy and has a richness to it, just without the extra calories and fat!

To start you have to shuck all the corn and cut all the kernels from the corn cobs.

Removing the Kernels

Removing the Kernels

This isn’t a quick job, and your hands might hurt after it, but the commitment is worth it…I promise!

After you have the corn kernels all prepared, heat some light butter in a large pot. Once it starts foaming, toss in some chopped chipotles in adobo sauce and the scallions and let everything cook for about 3 minutes.

Butter, Chipotles and Scallions

Butter, Chipotles and Scallions

After the mixture has had time to cook together, add in the corn kernels, salt, buttermilk and water. Stir everything together and then bring the mixture to a boil.

Soup Mixture

Soup Mixture

Once your soup base is boiling, reduce the heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes.

While your soup is simmering, grab a fine mesh strainer and a large heat-proof bowl and set aside. Set-up your blender, removing the small cap in the middle which will allow the steam to escape and prevent the lid from popping off! (Which we know I have had problems with in the past!) Then get a kitchen towel to cover the blender top so you don’t spray your kitchen with soup.

Take your soup off the heat and using the blender puree in batches.

Once you have a nice consistency, pour your soup through the strainer into the large bowl. Using a spatula, press down on the strainer, getting all the soup you can out of the mixture and into the bowl. You will have “stuff” remaining in the strainer, which you can throw out.

Stir in the corn you set aside and serve your soup!

Spicy Chipotle Corn Soup

Spicy Chipotle Corn Soup

I was a little nervous about how this soup was going to turn out, since I was substituting a key ingredient, whole milk, for buttermilk. But I am happy to report that the soup still tasted great, and was much lighter and healthier! Using the buttermilk also gave the soup a great bite, which contrasted nicely with the spiciness of the chipotle. Serve this soup with a slice of bread if you are worried about the kick it has.

Spicy Chipotle Corn Soup (adapted from Chow)

8 ears corn, husks removed

2 tbsps light butter

1 tsp minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

2 tsp kosher salt

4 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts only)

1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk

1 1/2 cups water


Remove corn kernels from the cob using a paring knife and slicing downwards, into a large plastic Tupperware

Reserve 1/2 cup of the corn for later

In a large saucepan melt the butter until it’s foaming, then toss in the chipotle and scallions

Cook the mixture for about 3 minutes, until the scallions are soft

Add in the corn, salt, buttermilk and water

Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes

Grab a strainer and a large bowl

Pour the soup in batches into your blender (remove the middle cap to vent the heat, and cover with a kitchen towel)

Puree the soup until a smooth consistency and strain into the large bowl

Using the spatula, press down on the strainer to get as much soup as possible out, discard the remaining solids

Stir in the reserved corn, and serve

Yields 4 servings


Didn’t I always want red walls in my kitchen? April 5, 2010

Filed under: Soups — Nikki Wegner @ 11:11 pm
Tags: , ,

Just as it’s starting to get warm in DC, I am going to post about soup, not exactly appropriate, but still yummy!

And funny. Since my first attempt at making tomato soup ended up in one of my funnier kitchen snafus. Unfortunately there aren’t any pictures of the disaster I made of the kitchen and myself, since this was pre-blog, but hopefully you will get the picture…

I love tomato soup, but finding a recipe that has lots of flavor, and isn’t a ton of work was surprisingly challenging. I just bought one of Ellie Krieger’s cookbooks and her recipe for Roasted Tomato Soup popped out at me. Everything was going great; kitchen smelled amazing, veggies were tasting delicious…and then I attempted to blend all the ingredients together.

My mom gave me an immersion blender for St. Nick’s and I was super excited to use it for the first time! Never mind that it was a Biggest Loser branded blender…Mom, were you trying to tell me something? Anyways, I went to go use it and it broke, spewing oil all over my hands and shirt, but luckily I saved the soup! Attempt #1 at blending=Fail.

Not to be discouraged I figured I could just use our normal blender. No big deal right? Well I made another epic fail, attempting to blend while the soup was still hot! Did you know heat breaks the seal on things? If you didn’t join the club. If you did, I am sure you know what happened next!

Just like out of a movie, soup started flying everywhere, the walls were covered, my pajamas were covered, cause who doesn’t make soup in their pjs right? My roommates were trying not to laugh at me as they sat on the couch watching. But I am sure I looked a hot mess.

Not to be deterred, I let the ingredients cool, then managed to successfully use the blender to finish the soup. Victory! And it ended up tasting great. So all the hilarity was worth it. Though I am still finding red splotches on tour kitchen’s white walls…

And just for fun, here is a recipe for French Onion Soup too! It is one of my favorites, and the combination of caramelized onions and Gruyere from Cowgirl Creamery, my favorite cheese shop in DC (cause every good Wisconsin girl has to find a cheese shop no matter where she is living) was delicious. This recipe is also low in carbs and calories, as I left out croutons/bread, but feel free to add.

Roasted Tomato Soup (adapted from Ellie Krieger’s So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week)

7 Tomatoes, quartered

1 large sweet onion, cut into large pieces

4 large garlic cloves

1 tsp salt

5 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp chili powder

2 Tbsp olive oil


Pre-heat oven to 375°

In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes, onions and garlic with oil, salt and pepper

Spread out evenly on a rimmed baking sheet

Roast vegetables for about 40 minutes, stirring at the 20 minute mark

In a large saucepan, 4 quarts, combine vegetables, broth, nutmeg, remaining salt and pepper

Bring mixture to a boil, simmer for 10 minutes

Remove from heat

If using an immersion blender, feel free to blend right away, if using a standing blender, let cool before blending!

Garnish with your favorite toppings

French Onion Soup (adapted from Weight Watchers)

1 bulb garlic

5 medium onions

1 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup dry red wine

4 cups fat-free beef broth

2 tbsp Worcestershire  sauce



Pre-heat oven to 350°

Wrap garlic bulb in foil, roast in oven for 45 minutes, let cool for 10 minutes

Remove foil, cut off top of the garlic bulb, and set aside cloves

While garlic is roasting, heat oil in very large skillet, add onions and start carmelizing

Stir onions occasionally until golden, about 45 minutes

Squeeze garlic cloves, adding pulp to onions, discard the skins

Stir onion and garlic mixture until fragrant, about 1 minute

In a large pot, about 4-quarts, combine onion and garlic mixture with broth, Worcestershire sauce and wine

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook for 15 minutes

Top with cheese and serve