Menu planner: Take a trip to Italy with Tuscan soup

Thinking ahead to your next few meals? Here are some main dishes and sides to try.

SHARE Menu planner: Take a trip to Italy with Tuscan soup
Tuscan soup doesn’t take long to prepare.

Tuscan soup doesn’t take long to prepare.

Shadow Mountain/Christy Denney

Tuscan soup

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 10 minutes


1 pound mild Italian sausage

1/2 cup chopped onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

6 cups unsalted chicken broth

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 cups kale or spinach, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup heavy cream

Coarse salt and pepper to taste

Grated Parmesan for topping

In a Dutch oven or other large pot, brown sausage on medium-high heat; drain. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and cook 1 minute; do not brown. Stir in broth, tomatoes and oregano; bring to a simmer. Stir in kale or spinach and cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve; garnish with Parmesan.

Per serving: 216 calories, 12 grams protein, 12 grams fat (58% calories from fat), 5.3 grams saturated fat, 8 grams carbohydrate, 79 milligrams cholesterol, 668 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Carb count: 0.5.

Caribbean roast chicken with pineapple and sweet potatoes

Makes 10 to 12 servings (3 ounces cooked weight chicken)

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 2 to 2 1/2 hours


1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons Caribbean jerk seasoning mix

1 (4- to 5-pound) whole chicken, giblets and neck removed

3 fresh limes

8 whole sprigs cilantro, plus 2 tablespoons chopped

1 (20-ounce) can chunk pineapple, drained, reserving 1/2 cup liquid

3 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 cup unsalted chicken broth

1/4 cup dark rum or additional unsalted chicken broth

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In small bowl, combine sugar and jerk seasoning. Rub over outside of chicken. Cut 1 lime into quarters; insert into chicken cavity along with cilantro sprigs. Place chicken in roasting pan; surround with pineapple. Place in oven; roast 1 hour. Meanwhile, juice remaining 2 limes. Remove chicken from oven; add potatoes, broth, rum and lime juice to pan. Return to oven; roast 1 to 1 1/2 hours more or until internal temperature of thigh reaches 165 degrees. Remove from oven; place chicken on sheet pan. Tent with foil. Remove pineapple and potatoes; reserve. Spoon sauce from pan into serving dish; add chopped cilantro. To serve; carve chicken. Surround with potato-pineapple mixture; pass with sauce.

Per serving (skinless chicken): 103 calories, 19 grams protein, 3 grams fat (23% calories from fat), 0.6 gram saturated fat, no carbohydrate, 60 milligrams cholesterol, 69 milligrams sodium, no fiber.

Carb count: 0.

Per serving (potatoes and pineapple): 114 calories, 1 gram protein, no fat (0% calories from fat), no saturated fat, 24 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 223 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Carb count: 1.5.

Pasta and bean soup

Makes about 9 cups

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: less than 20 minutes


1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tablespoons minced garlic

6 cups unsalted vegetable broth

1 1/2 cups farfallini or other small pasta

2 (15-ounce) cans reduced-sodium cannellini beans, rinsed

1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, with liquid

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 3-quart saucepan on medium. Add onion and cook 5 minutes or until light golden. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook 5 minutes. Stir in beans and tomatoes; cook 4 minutes or until pasta is tender. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley, cheese and remaining oil.

Per cup: 204 calories, 7 grams protein, 4 grams fat (17% calories from fat), 0.7 gram saturated fat, 35 grams carbohydrate, 2 milligrams cholesterol, 362 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2.5.

Chicken salad lettuce cups

Place 2 cups chopped leftover chicken, 1 cup shredded carrots, 1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts (drained and halved) and 6 sliced green onions in a bowl. In small bowl, whisk 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt and 1/4 cup Asian sesame salad dressing; toss with chicken mixture. Spoon into lettuce leaves. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper. Serve with tomato soup and crackers.

Turkey tortilla meatloaf

Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 egg, 1/2 cup mild salsa, 1 teaspoon chili powder and 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt. Add 1 pound ground turkey breast, 1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips, 1/2 cup shredded 50% light cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro. Mix well. Form into two 8-by-3-inch loaves. Brush tops with 2 more tablespoons salsa. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees; slice and serve.

Stir-fried cabbage and cumin

Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a wide skillet or wok on medium-high. Add 2 cloves peeled whole garlic and 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds. Cook and stir 30 seconds. Add 5 to 6 cups thinly sliced green cabbage and 1 medium leek bulb, halved and thinly sliced. Stir until vegetables are coated with oil. Add 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt. Cook 5 minutes or until reduced by one-third. Cook longer for softer vegetables.

Tuna and white bean salad

In a large bowl, combine 1 pound cooked green beans, 1 (15-ounce) can rinsed reduced-sodium cannellini beans, 1 medium tomato cut into wedges and 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives. Break 2 (5- to 6-ounce) cans drained tuna into pieces and place on top. Drizzle balsamic vinaigrette over all.

Crispy oven-fried flounder

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place 1 cup low-fat buttermilk in a resealable plastic bag; add 4 (6-ounce) flounder fillets and let soak for 5 minutes. Remove fish; discard buttermilk. Sprinkle fish with 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning. Place 3 cups crushed whole-grain cereal in a pie plate. Coat fillets in cereal, pressing gently onto each fillet. Place fillets on wire rack coated with cooking spray and placed in a rimmed baking pan lined with nonstick foil. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until opaque throughout.

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