Vegetable Soup with Cornmeal Croutons

    PREP: 20 minutes BAKE: 12 minutes COOK: 15 minutes MAKES 6 to 8 servings

    • 1⁄2 cup sliced leek or chopped onion
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
    • 1 8-ounce package fresh mushrooms, quartered
    • 1 large yellow or red sweet pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 3 cups water
    • 1 28-ounce can Italian-style tomatoes, undrained and cut up
    • 1 15- to 19-ounce can cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
    • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
    • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 4 cups baby spinach leaves
    • 1 recipe Cornmeal Croutons

    1. In a large saucepan cook leek in hot oil over medium heat until tender, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms, sweet pepper, and garlic; cook for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
    2. Add water, undrained cut-up tomatoes, drained beans, salt, and black pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Stir in spinach. Serve with Cornmeal Croutons.

    PER SERVING: 333 cal., 11 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 42 mg chol., 928 mg sodium, 50 g carb., 6 g fiber, 15 g pro.

    Cornmeal Croutons

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a very large baking sheet or 2 large baking sheets; set aside. In a medium bowl lightly beat 1 egg. Add one 8.5-ounce package corn muffin mix, 2⁄3 cup finely shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese, and 2 tablespoons milk. Drop into small mounds by scant teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet(s). Lightly sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and, if desired, coarse sea salt. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until golden. Remove from baking sheet; cool completely on a wire rack.


    Leeks can be tricky to prepare. To clean a leek, cut a big slice from the base or root end and cut off the dark green leaves. Then cut the leek into pieces, place in a colander, and rinse well between the layers until all the dirt is removed.