Monday, March 4, 2013

Soup and Make Your Own Grilled Cheese Bar

This weekend - in addition to sewing lessons with DD #1 - we hosted DD #2 and her alternate Spring break group for dinner and a good night's rest before heading to the airport for Honduras.  Being Catholic and all and being Friday during lent,  we needed a good meatless meal that would appeal to a variety of tastes.

I decided on a Soup and Make Your Own Grilled Cheese Bar.  We had two types of soup:  Crockpot Minestrone and Thai Butternut Squash Soup

Crockpot Veggie Minestrone

Thai Butternut Squash Soup

Both soups were "super" easy to make and appealed to a variety of different tastes...and...the leftovers have been even better!  

Some of the ingredients for the grilled cheeses

To go with the soups, I set up a grilled cheese bar.  The kids put their unique sandwiches together and I grilled them up on the griddle while they were serving up the soup.  No muss, no fuss.  

I was surprised at how adventurous the kids were.  I guess after a certain number of cafeteria meals anything goes!

Potential ingredients included tomatoes, avocado, basil leaves, artichoke hearts, apples, my special grainy mustard/apricot jam spread (1 part mustard to 2 parts apricot jam) and three types of bread.  If it wasn't meatless Friday, I would have included some prosciutto, regular ham, maybe bacon - all the best pork products!

The whole affair was easy to set up - the veggie soup cooked while I was at work - and the Butternut squash soup was together in 20 minutes.  The rest was just putting out the ingredients.  Clean up was a snap and I think the kids had fun getting to "make their own."

What's your favorite Feed-a-Crowd trick?

Vegetarian Minestrone Soup
By Connie Johnson from Fix It and Forget It
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small zucchini, cubed
  • 1 handful fresh kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry barley (I about 1/3 cup because that's all I had)
  • 1 can chickpeas or white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp parsley
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 28 oz can crushed Italian tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Grated cheese (for topping)
  • (I cooked up some digitali pasta to add into each bowl at the last minute.  Do not add this to the crockpot.  It will soak up all the liquid.)
1.  Combine all ingredients except the cheese and pasta to the slow cooker.
2. Cover. Cook on Low 6-8 hours, or until vegetables are tender.  (I put mine on the timer for 8 hours on low and then warmed until I got home and we served and it was perfect!)
3.  Add pasta if desired and sprinkle with cheese.  

Makes 6 HUGE servings!

Thai Butternut Soup
Cooking Light March 2013

  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 1/2 tsp red curry paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 cup fat-free, lower sodium chicken broth (I used veggie broth to keep it meat-free)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 (12 oz) packages frozen pureed butternut squash. (The packages I found called in frozen winter squash.. same-o, same-o.)
  • 1 (14 oz) can light coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
1.  Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add oil; swirl to coat.  Add onion; sauté 3 minutes.  Add curry paste, garlic and ginger; sauté 45 seconds, stirring constantly.
2.  Add broth and next 5 ingredients (through salt); cover.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Place half of squash mixture in blender.  Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape);  secure blender lid on blender.  Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters).  Blend until smooth.  Pour into a large bowl.  REpeat with remaining squash mixture.  
Or...Do what I did and use your immersion blender and skip all that blender mess.  Was it perfectly smooth?  No.  But I'll take that trade off to skip all that blender mess.
3.  Spoon about 1 cup soup into each of 4 bowls; top with 2 Tbsp peanuts and 1 Tbsp cilantro.  Serve with lime wedges.

Serves 4 - 1 cup servings.

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