Healthy Holiday Soups and Salads
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Round out your holiday meal with a warming bowl of soup or fresh winter salad.
Smoked Barley, Beet and Grapefruit Salad
This CL–perfected stovetop technique makes smoking food easier than ever (though the salad is still tasty if you choose not to smoke the grains), and smoke is such a fun flavor to apply to unexpected ingredients like barley. A sweet vinaigrette, earthy beets, and the intense citrus twang of grapefruit balance the robust smoky hit of the grains for a memorable salad. To make sure you're getting the whole-grain version of barley, look for hulled, and skip past pearled.
A fresh, crisp salad balances the lineup of heavier, rich side dishes. You can follow a recipe or just compose one with pretty cuts of your favorite vegetables and herbs tossed with a light vinaigrette. Make this salad a day ahead if you want the flavors to absorb into the cauliflower a little more. Just hold off on adding the cheese until right before serving.
Shaved Apple and Fennel Salad with Crunchy Spelt
Simply put, apples and fennel are right together—the flavors are so complementary. We love the way the paper-thin slices intertwine and then get interrupted by bright hits of parsley. Canola oil may seem like an odd choice, but we wanted to keep the flavors clean and straightforward; you can always use olive oil if you'd like the vinaigrette to assert itself.
Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pickled Rye Berries
Something rather lovely happens when you soak the chewier whole grains (such as rye or wheat berries) in a pickling brine; the tangy notes make the chew that much more enjoyable.
Ruthenian Mushroom Soup
A traditional Ruthenian dish, this soup starts with raw garlic and a bowl of dark brown mushrooms. It's often served on Christmas Eve, but can be enjoyed all winter long.
Crunchy Greens with Radish
Letting the raw shallot stand with the salt and vinegar pickles it slightly and mellows the harshness. Long spears of romaine make for a dramatic presentation. Once it’s brought to the table, you can coarsely chop the lettuce for easier serving.
Fennel and Blood Orange Salad
This salad is a feast for the eyes, and a welcome relief from the brown and gold tones on the Thanksgiving table. Sweet-tart blood oranges and a honey vinaigrette offset the bitter edge of the endive and radicchio (you can also use milder romaine lettuce hearts). If you can’t find blood oranges, try ruby red grapefruit or pretty pink Cara Cara oranges.
Thai Coconut Curry Noodle Soup
Leftover turkey is completely unrecognizable in this satisfyingly steamy, spicy soup that's perfect for cold weather. Jalapeño, fresh ginger, and Thai curry paste pack potent pungency that completely revamp the traditional Thanksgiving dinner flavor.
Warm-Spiced Butternut Squash Soup
Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Claire Spollen
Earthy, fragrant spices like allspice, cloves, and cinnamon make wonderful accents for the natural sweetness of butternut squash. Make sure to simmer the squash until very tender--the softer it gets, the silkier the puree.
This hearty yet healthy Italian classic features humble ingredients that make a big impact. Escarole is transformed by heat, changing from a bitter green into something soft, mellow, and sultry. If you crave extra crunch, use fresh green beans instead of canned. If you can’t find escarole, substitute an equal amount of coarsely chopped lacinato kale, red kale, or Swiss chard. Parmesan cheese lends savory depth and body to the broth, while accents of pancetta add richness. As with most soups, the longer it sits, the better it gets, making this a great make-ahead option. Bonus: One serving delivers more than a quarter of the day’s calcium and almost 30% of your daily potassium goal.
Creamy Carrot and Lemongrass Soup
A silky, subtly spiced soup with a hit of sweetness that makes fall vegetables feel downright swanky. Lemongrass and curry paste give this Thai-inspired soup extraordinary depth of flavor. Look for lemongrass paste in the refrigerated produce section, near the packages of fresh herbs. Using prechopped butternut squash makes prep a breeze; find it at most well-stocked grocery stores in the produce section with the bags of other prepared veggies. Bonus: One serving of this soup delivers 100% of your daily dose of vitamin A.
Kale, Farro, and Feta Salad
This satisfying winter salad is full of texture and color. Pair with roasted chicken thighs or as a side for pureed veggie soup. Top leftovers with cooked chicken and diced apple for tomorrow's lunch.
Turmeric Chicken-and-Chickpea Soup
We gave the ultimate comfort food a restorative upgrade by adding anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich ingredients like turmeric, ginger, and garlic. In place of noodles, which tend to swell in soups, we look to canned chickpeas, which add texture and boost fiber. As with most soups, the magic is in the broth: Searing the chicken thighs first creates browned bits that add savory richness, while coconut milk lends a silky finish. Whether it’s holiday stress or under-the-weather blues getting you down, this recipe will help restore and recharge you.
Silky Tomato Soup with White Beans and Garlic Oil
Creamy, silky tomato soup is the ultimate comfort food. We've elevated the traditional soup with the addition of white cannellini beans and toasty garlic oil. You won't miss any of the cream or calories from this dairy-free tomato soup as the texture is still silky from blending the tomato base. With the addition of the white beans, each serving provides 8 grams of protein making this vegetarian meal foolproof.
Fingerling Potato Salad With Mustard Vinaigrette
Little fingerling potatoes are fantastic in potato salads, in part because their skin-to-flesh ratio is much smaller than big potatoes, so there’s more interesting textural difference in every bite. Like with any potato salad, one key to success is dressing the potatoes while they’re still hot so they fully absorb flavorings.
Creamy Kale Caesar Salad with Soft-Boiled Eggs
We leave out the anchovies for a kid-friendly take on classic Caesar salad. Instead of romaine, we use dark, bumpy lacinato kale leaves; a quick massage makes them perfectly tender. And instead of adding raw egg to the dressing, we add a soft-boiled egg to each serving so the yolk can run over all. A grill pan is a worthy addition to your kitchen for getting quick, chargrilled flavor without having to cook outdoors. Use it to toast the baguette slices and mellow the fresh red onion wedges.