Yellow Bell Pepper and Leek Soup

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Hear the words “cream soup” and most health-minded individuals go running – running to avoid the usual high fat, high calorie versions that often end up making you feel sluggish. Yet there is victory among the “cream.” Thanks to the development of lower fat, lower calorie, nutrient-rich alternatives, not all cream soups are fattening! This delicious high-antioxidant soup gets its rich, creamy texture from protein-friendly Greek yogurt.

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A perfect dish for the athlete in you, this soup helps repair tired muscles, enhance the immune system and clean out toxins among other health benefits. Flavorful spices of cardamom, cumin, fresh garlic and black pepper kick-start the metabolism and aid digestion. Best of all, this soup takes only minutes to make and is delicious served hot or chilled. Make this soup the day before and enjoy as a quick, tasty post-workout meal that helps promote continued calorie burn.

Yellow Bell Pepper and Leek Soup 
(Serves 8)

• 1 tablespoon plus 8 teaspoons olive oil
• 1 clove garlic, chopped
• 1 large shallot, chopped
• 2 large or 3 medium yellow bell peppers
• 2 leeks, white and green parts, chopped
• 2 celery stalks, chopped
• ½ teaspoon cardamom
• ½ teaspoon cumin
• 1 teaspoon white pepper
• ½ teaspoon sea salt
• 4 cups vegetable broth
• Fine zest of 1 lemon
• ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh sage leaves
• ¾ cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
• 8 teaspoons chopped fresh chives for garnish

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat and add garlic and shallots. Stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

2. Add yellow bell peppers, leeks, celery, cardamom, cumin, white pepper and sea salt. Saute about 5 minutes. Add broth, lemon and sage and bring to a low boil. Stir in yogurt until well combined.

3. Working in batches, puree bell pepper mixture in a food processor or blender until smooth.

4. Serve in ¾ cup servings with a drizzle of 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of chopped chives.

By Susan Irby