Alicia Ross for Kitchen Scoop,
15 minute home made soup, perfect for a stress-free meal.

Several years ago I read a report that said more people cook between Thanksgiving Day and New Year's Day than any other time of year. It's not surprising, really. Planning a special menu during the holiday season is fun and festive.

But it's not the special menu that stresses me out. It's dinner tonight! It seems I get even more desperate around those big "cooking" days than I do on the big day itself. I feel as if I spend so much time planning the special meal that my everyday dinners suffer.

Today's recipe for a super-quick Cream of Vegetable Soup is just the ticket for a stress-free midweek dinner. It's sized for two, although easily doubled or tripled if need be. It flies together start to finish in just 15 minutes, and it will soothe the soul and feed the hungriest of households.

Alicia Ross is the co-author of "Desperation Dinners!" (Workman, 1997), "Desperation Entertaining!" (Workman, 2002) and "Cheap. Fast. Good!" (Workman, 2006). Contact her at Kitchen Scoop, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106, or send email to [email protected]. Or visit the Kitchen Scoop website at

© Alicia Ross

Dist. by Universal Uclick for UFS

Suggested menu:

Easy Cream of Vegetable Soup

Simple tossed salad

Purchased sourdough rolls

Easy Cream of Vegetable Soup

Start to finish: 15 minutes

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 cup each finely chopped onion, finely chopped carrots and finely chopped mushrooms, for 3 cups chopped mixed vegetables (see Cook's Note)

1 cup reduced-sodium, fat-free chicken or vegetable broth

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup low-fat milk

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (Italian-style preferred)

In a medium saucepan, saute the vegetables in the oil over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add milk; simmer to combine flavors. Stir in the parsley just before serving.

Cook's Note: Peppers and celery in combination with other vegetables are also delicious. Just make sure you have 3 cups of finely chopped vegetables for each serving of 2.

Yield: 2 servings

Approximate values per serving: 165 calories, 7 g fat (2 g saturated), 6 mg cholesterol, 9 g protein, 19 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber, 770 mg sodium.