Soups are AMAZING for calorie control and for sneaking in veggies to people who hate veggies. Plus a batch usually leaves enough leftovers for a day or two of lunches. And soup is generally cheap to make, a bit of prep work but once all the veggies are cut, just dump it in a pot and let it go. Stick with clear or bean soups and not cream soups or chowders to keep calories down. Here is one of my favorites— my Mister was initially very anti-bean but I convinced him to try, because beans rock and he’s never had them done properly. Now he is a convert and I make some variation of bean soup every week, usually enough for 2 dinners and 2 lunches so what time I spend chopping today, I regain over the next couple days.
3-4 links Italian sausage, raw (sausage really boosts the calories but the big flavor on the soup is worth it, and when split across 6 portions or so, it’s not too bad at all)
1 onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1/2 of a green or red pepper, diced
3 carrots, diced
3 cans Cannellini (white kidney) beans
lots of fresh garlic— the more, the better, I use about 4 TBSP but I’m a garlic freak
1 TSP dried thyme
1 TBSP dried oregano
2 quarts chicken stock (the storebought stuff is fine, but don’t use bullion cubes as they are extremely salty)
Little bit of olive oil
Chop your veggies and set them aside. Heat up the pan dry (that is the key to preventing foods from sticking and scorching), then add just a bit of olive oil– you really only need enough to barely coat the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium, add the sausage links, and brown them slowly on both sides. Remove them, dump the veggies in the pan, and stir well.
Let the veggies cook for about 5-7 minutes; you want the onions to start browning a bit, that will add nice color and flavor. In the mean time, cut the sausage in half lengthwise, then into slices about 3/4 inch thick, it will be messy because it’s still raw in the middle so make sure you use a nice sharp knife and also clean your cutting board with clorox or pop it in the dishwasher after. Once it’s cut up, dump the sausage back in the pan, give it all a good stir, add the spices, cook for about 2 minutes longer, then add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
Open the cans of beans and drain then rinse the beans, then add them to the pot, Cut the heat back to medium and let cook for about 45 minutes, longer is better, covered is better. You want the beans to be pretty mushy when done.
I worked this out to be about 350 or 400 calories per serving if memory serves me, which is REALLY good for a dinner. You can also pop in some mushrooms, spinach or really any other veggie you have kicking around. Once you get the hang of it, you can do a LOT of things with this as a base recipe; change the spices, or change the kind of beans; use bacon instead of sausage; add tomatoes; and so forth.