Menu planner: For a quick, no-meat dinner, make Chipotle black bean soup

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

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Chipotle black bean soup with corn and tomatoes.

Chipotle black bean soup with corn and tomatoes.

Carl Tremblay/America’s Test Kitchen

Chipotle black bean soup with with corn and tomatoes

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 5 to 7 minutes


1 tablespoon canola oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

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

2 cups water

2 to 3 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

1/2 cup frozen corn

1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest, plus lime wedges for serving

Coarse salt and black pepper to taste

1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered

2 tablespoons plain low-fat Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium until it shimmers. Add onion and cook 3 to 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in beans, water and chiles; cook 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beans begin to break down. Using potato masher, coarsely mash beans in saucepan until they are mostly broken down and soup is thickened. Stir in corn and return to a brief simmer. Off heat, stir in lime zest and season with coarse salt and black pepper to taste. Evenly divide tomatoes, yogurt and cilantro to top each serving. Serve with lime wedges. (Adapted from “The Everyday Athlete Cookbook,” Alicia Romono, America’s Test Kitchen.)

Per serving: 257 calories, 13 grams protein, 5 grams fat (16% calories from fat), 0.4 gram saturated fat, 46 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 339 milligrams sodium, 16 grams fiber.

Carb count: 3.

Saucy Italian-style chicken thighs

Makes 12 servings

Preparation time: less than 10 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour on high, or 4 to 5 hours on low


12 skinless boneless chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)

1 (14-ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, with liquid

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste with Italian seasoning

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, arrange chicken. In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper; mix well. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour; reduce heat to low and cook 4 to 5 hours or until chicken is tender.

Per serving: 164 calories, 23 grams protein, 5 grams fat (28% calories from fat), 1.2 grams saturated fat, 6 grams carbohydrate, 107 milligrams cholesterol, 362 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Carb count: 0.5.

Cinnamony sweet noodle pudding

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes, plus noodles


2 cups medium wide noodles (about 5 ounces)

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 large eggs

1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup raisins

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Cook noodles according to directions; drain and toss with the oil. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, ricotta cheese, yogurt, sugar and cinnamon. With a wooden spoon, stir in drained noodles and raisins. Spoon into baking dish. Bake 45 minutes or until mixture is set in center and lightly browned. Cool before serving.

Per serving: 326 calories, 16 grams protein, 13 grams fat (34% calories from fat), 4.3 grams saturated fat, 40 grams carbohydrate, 165 milligrams cholesterol, 126 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Carb count: 2.5.

Pork tenderloin with broiled apples

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup apple jelly, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice; blend well. Place 2 pounds pork tenderloins in a shallow roasting pan; brush with half the jelly mixture. Roast 20 to 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Place thinly sliced apple from 4 cored, unpeeled red apples on broiler pan coated with cooking spray; brush with remaining jelly mixture. Broil 5 to 6 inches from heat for 5 minutes or until tender. Slice pork; serve with apple slices.


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cover and microwave on high 3/4 cup chopped onion 2 minutes or until tender; drain. In a large bowl, combine onion, 3 tablespoons ketchup, 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, 1 teaspoon less-sodium Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, 1 pound ground sirloin and 1 egg; mix lightly. Place meat mixture on a rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking spray; shape into an 8-by-4-inch loaf. Brush top with 3 more tablespoons ketchup. Bake 35 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes. Cut into 8 slices and serve.

Rice hiding under creamy chicken

In a 2-quart saucepan, blend 1/2 cup 1% milk and 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can less-sodium less-fat condensed cream of chicken soup; heat on medium, stirring frequently. Stir in 1 (12-ounce) can drained chicken breast in water (or 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken breast), a 4.5- to 6-ounce can or jar drained sliced mushrooms, 1/2 cup cooked sliced carrots and 1 (14.5-ounce) can drained diced tomatoes; heat through.

Smoky maple-mustard salmon

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine 3 tablespoons whole-grain or Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika or chipotle pepper, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt; mix well. Place 4 (4-ounce) salmon fillets (skin side down) on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Spread mustard mixture evenly over salmon. Roast 8 to 12 minutes or until opaque throughout. Serve with roasted asparagus, rice pilaf and bibb lettuce salad and whole-grain rolls.

TIP: Salmon skin will stick to uncoated foil for easy removal.

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