Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Monte Cristo Sandwiches and Fresh Asparagus Soup

Over the weekend I came across an old issue of Southern Living in my mom's kitchen. As I flipped through the magazine looking for recipes, the page titled "Sensational Soups and Sandwiches" caught my attention. Best of all, these soup and sandwich recipes were in the healthy foods section of the magazine. I'm always on the lookout for good healthy recipes. The soup is a delicious lower fat, lower calorie version of traditional Cream of Asparagus soup and the Monte Cristo was a twist on the deep-fried favorite that I so enjoyed at the Utopia Diner when I was in college.

Let's take a closer look at this sandwich. I made mine on light Multi-grain bread (the rest of the family got regular wheat bread) spread with whole grain mustard and filled with deli ham and Swiss cheese. I dipped them in a fat free milk and egg substitute mixture before grilling them up and topping with homemade tomato chutney. The sandwich was delicious on it's own, but the tomato chutney really made it out of this world! I found a small jar of tomato chutney at my local grocery store for $6.99. I really couldn't justify spending almost 7 bucks on a condiment when it was likely that I'd be the only one in our house using it. I found a couple of tomato chutney recipes and finally developed my own (found at the end of this post)to suit my tastes. As it turns out, my husband and our toddler were also were big fans of the tomato chutney with their Monte Cristo sandwiches.

Here's my little sandwich making station with whole grain mustard, about 8 oz. of ham, 4 slices of Swiss cheese and 8 slices of bread.

I spread each slice of bread (for the adult sandwiches) with the whole grain mustard. This is good stuff!

Then I assembled the sandwiches.

Each sandwich took a dip and a flip in the egg and milk mixture...

before hitting the griddle and grilling until golden brown.

It was like french toast meets ham and cheese. They were a big hit at our dinner table.

Now for the Fresh Asparagus Soup. I started with a pound of asparagus.

Then I cleaned it, snapped off the ends, and cut it up into 2 inch pieces.

I added some chopped onion, garlic, chicken broth, and thyme to the asparagus. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat and cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

After the asparagus/broth mixture has cooled for about 10 minutes, transfer it to a food processor or blender.

Process until smooth and then return to the pan.

Mix milk with a tablespoon of flour until smooth. Whisk the milk mixture into the pureed asparagus mixture and whisk until blended. Then bring it all to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of butter and additional salt to taste.

This was a good, light soup. Especially if you like asparagus. Everyone in our house liked it. I won't tell you how I get my 4 year old to eat asparagus (hint: it has to do with cause and effect. Remember, 4 year olds are fascinated with bodily functions), but I will say that in the end, she picked up her soup and drank it straight out of the bowl. This soup didn't photograph well. I tried to garnish with sour cream and the cream kept sinking to the bottom and then floating up in lumps. Not very pretty. I promise, it tastes better than it looks.

Monte Cristo Sandwiches
From Southern Living

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 6 min. per batch.

3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
8 (1-oz.) whole wheat bread slices
8 ounces thinly sliced smoked deli ham
4 (1-oz.) reduced-fat Swiss cheese slices
1/3 cup egg substitute
1/3 cup fat-free milk
Vegetable cooking spray
4 tablespoons tomato chutney
2 tablespoons powdered sugar (optional)

1. Spread mustard evenly over 1 side of each bread slice. Layer each of 4 bread slices, mustard sides up, with 2 oz. ham and 1 cheese slice. Top with remaining bread slices, mustard sides down.

2. Whisk together egg substitute and milk in a shallow dish. Dip both sides of each sandwich into egg mixture.

3. Cook, in batches, in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Top each with 1 Tbsp. chutney, and, if desired, dust with powdered sugar.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

CALORIES 325 (0.0% from fat); FAT 9.5g (sat 3.2g,mono 0.2g,poly 0.4g); IRON 2.5mg; CHOLESTEROL 41mg; CALCIUM 429mg; CARBOHYDRATE 30.6g; SODIUM 982mg; PROTEIN 31.9g; FIBER 6.7g

Tomato Chutney

1 big ripe red juicy tomato
1/2 cup onion chopped
1 small clove garlic peeled and chopped
1 teaspoons sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 bay leaf
1 clove
1/2 inch cinnamon stick
1 pinch nutmeg
1 tablespoon oil
1 capful cider vinegar

Take a non stick heavy bottom pan and heat the oil.
Put bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon first and then add onion, garlic, salt and black pepper powder.
Saute for 2 minutes and add chopped tomatoes, salt and sugar.
Keep covered and stirring for 10 minutes or until tomatoes are soft.
Allow to cool to the room temperature.
Add nutmeg now.
Put the mixture in the blender. Toss in a capful of cider vinegar and blend till smooth (Remove bay leaves,clove, and cinnamon stick before blending).

Fresh Asparagus Soup adapted from Southern Living

Prep: 15 min., Cook: 25 min., Stand: 10 min.

1 pound fresh asparagus
2 cups low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, chopped
3/4 teaspoon fresh thyme, divided
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups 1% low-fat milk
2 teaspoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

Garnish: fresh thyme sprig

1. Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus. Cut into 2-inch pieces.

2. Combine asparagus, broth, onion, garlic, and 1/2 tsp. thyme in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Process asparagus mixture, in batches, in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return to pan.

3. Whisk together flour and milk until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture to asparagus mixture, whisking until blended. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring constantly, 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in butter, salt, 1/4 tsp. lemon rind, and remaining 1/4 tsp. thyme.

4. Top each serving with about 5 tsp. sour cream. Garnish, if desired.

Note: Freeze soup after Step 3 for up to 1 month. When ready to serve, thaw, reheat, and continue with Step 4.

Yield: Makes 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups soup and 5 tsp. sour cream mixture)

CALORIES 163 (0.0% from fat); FAT 6.1g (sat 3.8g,mono 1.2g,poly 0.4g); IRON 2.9mg; CHOLESTEROL 20mg; CALCIUM 190mg; CARBOHYDRATE 19.8g; SODIUM 439mg; PROTEIN 10.4g; FIBER 2.8g


Gloria Chadwick said...

I love your soup and sandwich combo. Looks really delicious! :)

Donna-FFW said...

Nothing better than a perfect soup and a delicious sandwich. You have both!

Heather S-G said...

Love me some soup & sammies!!! Monte Cristo is in my top 5 sandwiches, but I absolutely HAVE to have it with raspberry jam! Everything looks delish. :)

Reeni said...

The Monte Cristo's look great with that home-made chutney. I will be making some of that chutney in the very near future. And the asparagus soup is a perfect match - creamy and delicious!!

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