By Denise Swogetinsky

Special to The Messenger

When the temperature drops below 50 degrees, we all crave comfort foods, such as soups. Making healthy choices for our comfort soups requires a little planning. We can still enjoy soups, we just need to modify our recipes. Instead of grilled cheese sandwiches, make cheese quesadillas, low carb cheese sticks, or low carb tortilla chip. Enjoy the cold weather comfort soups, and be healthy at the same time.


 Low Carb Broccoli Cheese Soup  

2 Tablespoons butter

3 cups chicken broth  

 8 ounces cream cheese 1 cup heavy cream 

 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or Parmesan or any other cheese if desired)

 2 bunches of fresh broccoli, chopped



 extra grated sharp cheddar 

 sour cream

 8-10 strips bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

 thinly sliced green onions


Heat broth and broccoli until broccoli is tender. Mix cream cheese, heavy cream, shredded cheese and butter in another pan and stir often. When broccoli is tender, put half in a blender and puree (this makes it a little thicker).  When the other pan is melted, add to broth and broccoli (in the other pot). Garnish with your choice of toppings.  Add salt and pepper to taste.



 1/2 onion, chopped small

 2 T butter or olive oil

 1 large head of cauliflower, coarsely chopped. (About 7-8 cups chopped cauliflower. You can use the core.)

 3 cups chicken stock plus a little more to thin soup if needed

 1 tsp. garlic powder

 1 tsp.  salt

 4 oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes

 1 cup grated sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese 

 1/2 cup half and half, cream, or milk



 extra grated sharp cheddar 

 sour cream

 8-10 strips bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

 thinly sliced green onions


 Peel onion and chop into small pieces. Cut away the leaves of the cauliflower and some of the stem, keeping the core part. Coarsely chop cauliflower into pieces. Heat butter or oil in the dutch oven, add the onion, cook 2-3 minutes. Then add the chopped cauliflower, chicken stock, garlic powder, and salt. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to medium-low and simmer until the cauliflower is very soft, probably 20-30 minutes. Puree soup as above, and check the amount of liquid. If it’s too thick add a little more stock and if it seems thin, cook a few minutes more to evaporate some of the liquid. Turn heat to low, add the grated cheese and cream cheese cubes and let them melt, then stir to combine. Add the half and half, heat through, and season with salt and fresh-ground black pepper. (Taste before you add more salt.) Serve hot, with grated cheese, sour cream, crumbled bacon, and green onion to add at the table.




Vegetable Beef Soup

 4 slices bacon sliced into 1/2 inch pieces

 2 pounds stew meat cut into 1" cubes, patted dry

 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

 32 ounces beef broth

 1 medium yellow onion chopped

 1/4 cup green beans cut into 1 inch pieces

 1/4 cup carrots diced

 2 cup chopped cabbage

2 cup chopped cauliflower

 2 tablespoons tomato paste

 1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes

 2 cloves garlic crushed

 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

 1 teaspoon salt


Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon. Cook bacon, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Remove bacon, using a slotted spoon, to a paper-towel lined plate. Cover bacon and refrigerate for later. Discard all but about 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease. Return pan to burner over medium-high heat. Add beef cubes in batches, making sure they do not touch. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Brown each side of the beef cubes. Do not cook meat throughout. When outside is brown, transfer beef to the slow-cooker crock using a slotted spoon. Repeat for the rest of the meat. Once all of the beef has been browned and is in the slow-cooker, turn the skillet heat to medium low. Add vinegar to the skillet. Stir, scraping up brown bits, until vinegar has thickened. Pour in about 1/4 cup of the broth and continue to scrape up any browned bits. Transfer liquid to the slow-cooker.  Add remaining broth, vegetables, and seasonings to the slow-cooker. Stir gently. Cover the slow-cooker and cook on the low setting for 6 to 8 hours. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving. Garnish with reserved bacon bits before serving.


Low Carb 

Hamburger Soup

2 tbsp olive oil

 1 large white onion

 4 celery sticks

4 garlic cloves

1.25 cups ground beef

1 tsp salt

 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

 1.5 tsp dried basil

 1 tsp dried thyme

 3/4 tsp dried oregano

 1/2 tsp dried marjoram

 3 medium carrots

1/2 head cauliflower

1 cup frozen green peas

2 tsp Splenda Blend

1/2 cup tomato paste

1 can diced tomatoes

 6 cups beef broth

 Heat a soup pot on the stove to medium and add the olive oil. Dice the onion and celery and add when the oil is hot. Cook until the onion is transparent, add the garlic and cook for one minute, then add the ground beef, salt, pepper and spices. Cook until the beef is cooked through. To the pot add the carrots, cauliflower, peas, sweetener, tomato paste and diced tomatoes. Mix well then add the beef broth. Bring soup to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let cook for half an hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper, serve hot and enjoy! 


Cheese Quesadillas

 2 pkg Mission Low Carb Wraps

 2  pkg. cream cheese

 Shredded Mexican mix cheese

 Grated parmesan cheese

 Shredded mozzarella cheese

Spread cream cheese on one side of all the wraps. Sprinkle half of the wraps with all the other cheeses. Cover with the cream cheese wrap. Cook on a sprayed griddle until cheese is melted and wraps are golden. Turn as needed.  Cut into wedges and serve.


 Cheese Sticks

 1 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese 

 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into 4 pieces

 3/4 cup almond flour, plus more for dusting

 1/2 teaspoon salt

 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

 1 tablespoon half and half or milk or heavy cream

 Preheat oven to 350°F.In a food processor, combine the cheese, butter, flour, salt and red pepper flakes. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the half and half and process until the dough forms a ball, about 10 seconds. On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8- by 10-inch rectangle that is 1/8-inch thick. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into thin 8-inch strips, each 1/4- to 1/3-inch wide. (Note: It might be helpful to dip your knife in flour after every few cuts to ensure a clean cut — I did not have to, but Deb of Smitten Kitchen recommends doing so.). Gently transfer the strips to a parchment-lined cookie sheet, leaving at least 1/4-inch between them. Bake the straws on the middle rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the ends are barely browned. Remove from the oven and set the cookie sheet on a rack to cool.

 Serve at room temperature. Cheese straws will keep in the refrigerator, in a sealed container, for two days, but they taste best when freshly baked and served shortly thereafter.