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MICROWAVE

Soups Out of Season

January 13, 1994|MARCIA CONE and THELMA SNYDER

At this time of year, we have to take what vegetables we can find. Fortunately, this being Southern California, you can always find something worth making one of these speedy, nourishing soups from.

Complement the soup with some whole-grain bread and pieces of fresh fruit.

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This is a Provencal vegetable soup with garlic and basil. If we can't live in Provence, we can at least restore ourselves with the region's earthy, sun-drenched flavors.

VEGETABLE SOUP WITH PISTOU

2 medium carrots, diced

1 medium potato (thin-skinned potato need not be peeled), diced

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

Water

1 medium green or sweet red pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch slices

1 (10 1/2-ounce) can white or red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Pistou

Combine carrots, potato, onion and 1/2 cup water in 3-quart microwave-safe casserole. Cover tightly with lid or plastic wrap, turned back slightly on 1 side. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 6 minutes, or until tender, stirring once.

Stir in green pepper, zucchini, beans and 2 cups water. Cover again and microwave on HIGH 6 to 8 minutes or until all vegetables are tender and liquid is boiling.

Stir Pistou into vegetable mixture. Cover again and microwave on HIGH 4 to 6 minutes or until heated through. Spoon soup into serving bowls and serve with large chunks of whole-grain bread. Makes 10 to 12 cups.

Pistou

2 cloves garlic, mashed into paste with side of knife

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon dried, plus 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine garlic, tomato paste, basil, cheese and olive oil in small bowl. Makes about 1/2 cup.

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The creamy texture is sneakily derived from potatoes.

CREAMY ZUCCHINI SOUP

1 teaspoon oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 medium potatoes, thinly sliced (thin-skinned potatoes need not be peeled)

1 pound zucchini, thinly sliced

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup nonfat plain yogurt or sour cream

1/4 cup chopped chives or green onion tops

Combine oil and onion in 3-quart microwave-safe casserole. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 2 to 3 minutes or until onion is translucent and tender-crisp. Add potatoes and cover with lid or plastic wrap turned back slightly on 1 side. Microwave on HIGH 6 to 8 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Stir in zucchini. Cover again and microwave on HIGH 4 to 6 minutes or until zucchini is tender. Spoon mixture into blender or food processor and puree. Return mixture to casserole. Stir in broth, lemon juice, parsley, thyme and pepper. Cover again and microwave on HIGH 6 to 8 minutes or until boiling, stirring once.

Spoon soup into bowls. Top each serving with dollop of yogurt and sprinkle with chives. Makes about 8 cups.

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BROCCOLI SOUP

1 teaspoon oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

3 cups trimmed and coarsely chopped broccoli, plus 6 small florets for garnish

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Dash cayenne pepper

Nonfat plain yogurt or sour cream

Combine oil, onion and garlic in 3-quart microwave-safe casserole. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 1 to 2 minutes or until onion is translucent and tender-crisp. Add coarsely chopped broccoli. Cover with lid or plastic wrap, turned back slightly on 1 side. Microwave on HIGH 8 to 10 minutes or until broccoli is tender, stirring once.

Spoon mixture into food processor or blender and puree. Return mixture to casserole. Stir in broth, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne. Cover again and microwave on HIGH 8 to 10 minutes or until hot, stirring once. Garnish each serving with dollop of yogurt and broccoli floret. Makes 6 to 8 cups.

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