- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Baby, it is cold outside.

Often when the cold weather zaps my energy, I cannot think of anything that sounds good for dinner. Soup, yes, but please, nothing that requires a lot of effort.

Enter this simple and elegant carrot soup. It is made from sliced canned carrots, a brilliant time-saver to keep on the pantry shelf. They’re tender after cooking less than 10 minutes. And they marry with all sorts of flavors, such as curry, ginger and cinnamon.

Serve this soup with crusty bread and either fresh fruit or a salad of cubed apples, walnuts and blue cheese tossed with a bag of your favorite greens.

Five time-shaving soups to make in a snap

I adore any soup that can be prepared with the ingredients already in my kitchen and in little time. To make quick soups, stock your pantry with canned seasoned tomatoes, veggies and beans to jump-start the process:

• Place an undrained can of black beans in a saucepan and add enough chicken stock to thin. Season with a bay leaf, lemon rind, a smidgen of ground cumin, and serve with chopped onion.

• Place a can of tomatoes in a saucepan and thin with milk. Season as desired, heat to a simmer and puree for a quick cream of tomato soup. Serve with soda crackers.

• Chicken and pasta soup. Start with good chicken broth, then add broken pieces of spaghetti and green peas. Simmer until the pasta has cooked.

• Can’t beat chili. Begin with half a pound of browned ground beef. Add chopped onions and garlic, then a drained can of beans and two cans of tomatoes, and season as desired with chili powder and ground cumin. Simmer just 15 minutes, then serve with shredded cheese and tortilla chips.

• Perhaps the simplest soup of all — open a can of your favorite vegetable soup and season with black pepper. Cook grilled cheese sandwiches and cut them into small squares. Top the vegetable soup with the grilled cheese croutons and serve.

Warm curried carrot soup

The preparation time is 7 to 8 minutes, and the cooking time is 15 minutes.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup chopped onion (from 1 medium-size onion)

2 cans (14.5 ounces each) sliced carrots, drained

1 can (14 to 14.5 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon prechopped ginger (see opposite) or peeled chopped fresh ginger

1 teaspoon curry powder

Water

½ cup plain yogurt

Fresh parlsey, for garnish

Place the olive oil in a 2-quart saucepan and warm over medium-high heat.

Add the onion and saute, stirring, until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the carrots, chicken broth, sugar, ginger, curry powder and ½ cup of water. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer until the carrots are quite soft, 7 to 8 minutes.

Transfer the soup to a food processor and process until smooth or puree it in batches in a blender.

Return the soup to the saucepan, stir in most of the yogurt, reserving a little for garnish. Reheat it over medium-low heat.

Ladle the soup into serving bowls and dab with a little yogurt and garnish with parsley. Makes 4 servings.

To share favorite cooking tips, ask questions and access Anne Byrn’s free online newsletter, go to www.cakemixdoctor.com.

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