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GOOD COOKING/ABBY MANDEL

Soup in a Flash

March 18, 1998|ABBY MANDEL | Mandel's latest book is "Celebrating the Midwestern Table" (Doubleday & Co., 1996)

Homemade soups can be quicker than you think. In fact, each of these takes less than 15 minutes to get on the table.

And you probably have most of the ingredients on hand all the time, eliminating the need for any last-minute shopping. Add a salad, wedge of cheese or leftovers such as cold broiled chicken and a crusty loaf of bread, and there's dinner.

WHITE BEAN AND SPINACH SOUP WITH SMOKED SAUSAGE (30 MINUTES OR LESS)

Serve this robust soup with a green salad and warm bread. Other smoked sausages, regular or low-fat, can be substituted for the Polish sausage. Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta.

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon crumbled sage

2 (15-ounce) cans low-sodium navy beans, drained and rinsed

2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans low-sodium chicken broth

1 (10-ounce) package chopped frozen spinach, thawed

1/4 cup orzo

9 ounces Polish sausage, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

Grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano

Heat oil in 3-quart pot over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add onion, garlic and sage and cook, stirring often, until hot, about 2 minutes.

Add beans, broth, spinach, orzo, sausage, salt and pepper to taste and stir well. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until orzo is tender, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot. Pass cheese separately for garnish.

5 to 6 servings. Each of 6 servings without cheese:

372 calories; 899 mg sodium; 22 mg cholesterol; 12 grams fat; 46 grams carbohydrates; 21 grams protein; 5.09 grams fiber.

CURRIED SQUASH AND YAM SOUP (LOW-FAT COOKING)

Serve a cucumber and chick pea salad with this soothing soup that can be as spicy as you like, depending on how much curry powder you use. Instead of bread, serve pappadam, a wafer-thin Indian bread made with lentil flour that is available at many specialty and most Indian markets.

2 teaspoons oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder, preferably Madras

1 (12-ounce) package frozen cooked squash, thawed

1 (15 1/2-ounce) can yams in syrup, drained

1 (8 1/4-ounce) can light pear halves, drained

2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans low-sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons light sour cream

Heat oil in 3-quart pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add onion and curry powder and cook, stirring often, until hot, about 2 minutes.

Add squash, yams, pears, broth, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to boil and cook, covered, 10 minutes. Puree in batches in blender or food processor. Stir in sour cream. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot.

4 servings. Each serving:

213 calories; 1,409 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 4 grams fat; 42 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams protein; 3.30 grams fiber.

* Plate from Pottery Shack, Laguna Beach.

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