Of all these mags, Cook’s Illustrated is my clear favorite. I’ll go one further: I have a full-blown crush on CI. If I could personify it, CI would be the unattainable, hunky, early-30’s professor who knows just about everything and totally gets you. On the other hand, Cooking Light would be the smart-but-underachieving annoying back-row slacker with an undiagnosed case of ADHD.
Since CL can be so hit-or-miss, I’m floored when the mag does something right—and *boy* did it do something right. The November issue boasts a feature with Alexandra Jamieson, she of the vegetarian cookery and the Morgan Spurlock wedlock. Man alive, can that woman cook. Case in point: her delicious foods helped Morgan regain his girlish figure after his month of bodily abuse, courtesy of Mickey D’s. (And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, rent Super Size Me right this instant. Go. Now. I’ll wait.)
Anyway, Alex is the very definition of CHG standards. She’s big on making flavor paramount, sacrificing fat, and proving that it can be done on a shoestring. In any event, that wily minx actually convinced me to try a CL recipe, and boy, am I glad I did.
Alexandra Jamieson’s Italian White Bean and Spinach Soup (adapted slightly for my pantry)
Makes 6 servings (serving size: 1 cup)
Adapted from Cooking Light.
1 1-oz. package of dried shiitake mushrooms [Note: Kris and I joined Coscto several years ago, and purchased a mammoth bag of dried shiitakes for next to nothing. This is a great use for those bulk buys.-Rachel]
2 cups boiling water
2 tsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chopped fresh spinach, or 10-16 oz. of frozen chopped spinach
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
¼ tsp. dried thyme
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 15.5 oz. can of cannelloni beans or Goya small white beans
14 oz. of organic vegetable broth
Kosher salt to taste
1) In a small bowl, mix mushrooms and boiling water. Cover and leave about 15 minutes. Drain mushrooms, reserving liquid. Once mushrooms are drained, chop them up and set aside.
2) In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Cook 5 minutes, until onions are soft and mushrooms are tender. Add reserved mushroom juice, spinach, rosemary, thyme, black pepper, beans, and broth. Bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat to medium-low, and simmer about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Serve with thyme and a little red pepper.
Cooking Light’s Nutritional Breakdown:
CALORIES 78 (22% from fat); FAT 1.9g (sat 0.3g,mono 1.1g,poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 2.8g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 42mg; SODIUM 261mg; FIBER 2.9g; IRON 1.3mg; CARBOHYDRATE 13.5g
Approximate Calories, Fat, Weight Watchers Points Value, and Price per Serving
78 calories, 1.9 g fat, Points Value: 1
1-oz. dried shiitake mushrooms: $0.58
2 tsp. olive oil: $0.06
1 cup chopped yellow onion: $0.20
2 garlic cloves, minced: $0.10
16 oz. of frozen chopped spinach: $1.49
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary: $0.25
¼ tsp. dried thyme: $0.05
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper: $0.01
1 15.5 oz. can Goya small white beans: $0.69
14 oz. of organic vegetable broth: $0.30
Kosher salt to taste: $0.01
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 78 calories, 1.9 g fat, about $0.62