Southwest Turkey Soup

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There’s nothing like a meal featuring the flavors of the Southwest to warm you on a chilly day, imparting each bite with a hint of the summer sun. This week’s delicious turkey soup is a welcome and unique addition to anyone’s soup repertoire. And it is incredibly simple to prepare.

A far cry from traditional turkey soup, AICR’s recipe adds some atypical ingredients, including green chili peppers, Monterey Jack cheese, avocado and crushed tortilla corn chips. Tomatoes contribute just the right measure of subtle acidity, while a splash of lime juice enhances the complexity of the mix. Finally, cumin, garlic, cayenne pepper and cilantro each add their own flavor of the Southwest.


A member of the parsley family, cumin comes from a small plant that is native to the Nile Valley in Egypt. With its distinct nutty and warm flavor, it is a staple in Indian, Middle Eastern and Mexican cuisines.

A hint of cayenne pepper endows the dish with a pleasing spicy quality. Named for the city of Cayenne in French Guiana, cayenne pepper has been prized for thousands of years, believed to aid the digestive system and to improve circulation. According to the American Spice Trade Association, crushed red pepper flakes can be used interchangeably with ground cayenne pepper.

The addition of avocado, long a traditional element of Latin-style soups, provides an unexpected creaminess. Avocados are a fruit that contain little sugar or starch and as much as 30 percent oil. They get their name from the Spanish explorers who couldn’t pronounce the Aztec word for fruit, ahucacatl. Although a source of healthy monounsaturated fat, watch your portion size to keep calories in check.

Southwest Turkey Soup – Makes 8 servings.

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 scallions, chopped, divided
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or crushed red pepper flakes)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded turkey
1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
4 cups low fat, reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 (4-oz.) can chopped green chile peppers
1 tsp. lime juice
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, divided
3/4 cup shredded, low fat Monterey Jack cheese
2 handfuls baked corn tortilla chips, roughly crushed

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Sauté onion, garlic, half of the scallions and spices for about 5 minutes. Add turkey, canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, broth, chile peppers and lime juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 18 to 20 minutes.

Stir in avocado and cilantro and simmer 15 to 20 minutes until slightly thickened.

Spoon into bowls, top with shredded cheese, remaining scallions and cilantro. Add crushed tortilla chips just before serving.

Per serving: 200 calories, 8 g total fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 12 g carbohydrate, 19 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 420 mg sodium.

The Author:

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $86 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

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