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Easy dinner recipes: Three rich soups for Meatless Monday

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Looking for something simple to put on the table? You can't go wrong with soup, especially at this time of the year. It's an easy one-dish option. Best of all? You might never guess the soups below are vegetarian, each a perfect option for Meatfree Monday. For a rich yet simple dinner, you can't go wrong with soup. - See more at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2012/05/dinner-tonight-leek-apple-and-thyme-soup.html#sthash.hSv7gPPD.dpufWhether you call them chickpeas or garbanzo beans, if you're a fan, they don't get much better than this refreshingly bright salad, one of our Top 10 Recipes from 2011. Marinate chickpeas in a blend of lemon juice, olive oil and salt, then toss them with some Spanish chorizo, tomatoes and a little garlic, green onion, parsley and bell pepper. Marinate the beans first thing in the morning, then assemble the salad in the last few minutes before you sit down to eat. It makes a colorful side, or a perfect light meal. - See more at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2012/05/dinner-tonight-chickpea-salad-with-chorizo.html#sthash.J3QhXScu.dpuf

La Casa Sena's potato green chile soup: Tender potatoes are pureed with heavy cream to form the base for this rich and satisfying soup, with roasted diced chiles folded in for subtle heat.

Leek, apple and thyme soup: It might sound like an odd combination at first, but leeks, apples and thyme pair wonderfully in this dish, making for a bright soup with plenty of flavor. Serve the soup alongside a salad, or go rustic with a thick slice of crusty bread and a nice glass of wine. Dinner is served in about an hour.

QUICK & EASY: Terrific recipes in under an hour

Spinach soup with nutmeg and creme fraiche: Tender spinach coarsely pureed in chicken broth, the simple flavors deepened with rich and tangy creme fraiche, freshly grated nutmeg and a little lemon zest. It's a wonderfully simple soup, coming together in only 30 minutes.

If you are sensitive to gluten, check all ingredients to make sure they are gluten-free before using, as many may contain trace gluten (such as spices, a number of which include flour as an anti-caking agent) and/or are produced in facilities that also process gluten-based products.

You can find the recipes below.

And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

RECIPES: 99 easy dinner ideas in about an hour or less

LA CASA SENA'S POTATO GREEN CHILE SOUP

Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes | Serves 10 to 12

Note: Adapted from La Casa Sena in Santa Fe, N.M.

3 pounds baking potatoes

1 dozen fresh green chiles, preferably New Mexico, Anaheim or poblano

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup diced white onion

2 cups heavy cream

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 cup white wine

4 cups water, plus extra for cooking the potatoes, divided

Salt and pepper

1 cup each julienned fresh leeks, red bell peppers and poblano chiles, for garnish

Oil, for frying

1. Peel and halve the potatoes and place in a pot filled with water. Simmer until fork tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, roast the chiles: Place the chiles over high heat on a rack over a stove-top burner. When the skin is charred all over, place the peppers in a paper bag. Set the peppers aside for about 10 minutes to cool, then remove and peel the skin -- do not rinse. Discard the stems and seeds, and dice the peppers into one-eighth-inch squares; you should have about 2 cups. Set aside.

3. In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Stir in the white wine, scraping any flavoring from the bottom of the pan.

4. Stir in the cream, water and potatoes and bring to a low simmer, then remove from heat. Puree the soup using an immersion blender or in batches using a stand blender.

5. Stir in the diced chiles, and season with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, or to taste. Thin the soup, if desired, with cream or water. Hold in a warm place.

6. To prepare the garnish, heat a small pot of oil to 350 degrees. Deep-fry the leeks, bell peppers and chiles until brightly colored and lightly crisp, about 30 seconds. Drain.

7. Plate the soup, topping each serving with the fried garnish.

Each of 12 servings: 384 calories; 5 grams protein; 34 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams fiber; 25 grams fat; 10 grams saturated fat; 55 mg cholesterol; 3 grams sugar; 418 mg sodium.

LEEK, APPLE AND THYME SOUP

Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Servings: Makes about 3 quarts soup, 10 to 12 servings

7 leeks, divided

3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 to 3 large cloves garlic, pressed

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped

1 Red Delicious apple, peeled and chopped

1 3/4 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 quarts water

3 bay leaves

3 sprigs parsley

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

Salt, coarsely ground black pepper and nutmeg to taste

1. Remove the roots and tough outer layers of 4 of the leeks, slice them lengthwise and rinse thoroughly. Slice thinly. In a medium heavy-bottom pot, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium-low heat and cook the leeks and onions just until they soften. Add the garlic and cook another minute, stirring.

2. Stir in the chopped apples, potatoes and water. Stir in the bay leaves, parsley and thyme leaves. Bring to a boil and cook until the vegetables are soft, 45 minutes to an hour.

3. Remove bay leaves from the pot and puree the thyme and parsley together with the soup using a blender or food processor (this will need to be done in batches). Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Return to the pot and keep covered over low heat.

4. To make the garnish, heat an oven to 400 degrees. Clean and slice the remaining 3 leeks as you did with the first 4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the 3 sliced leeks in a bowl with the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake, stirring every few minutes, until the leek slices are crisp, about 10 minutes.

5. Divide the soup between serving bowls and garnish each with crispy leeks and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.

Each of 12 servings: 144 calories; 2 grams protein; 26 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 4 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 8 grams sugar; 14 mg. sodium.

Spinach soup with nutmeg and creme fraiche

Total time: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

Note: Adapted from "A Year in My Kitchen" by Skye Gyngell

10 ounces young, tender spinach leaves

2 tablespoons butter

2 large shallots, finely sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 cups chicken stock

Generous 2/3 cup creme fraiche

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, or to taste

Grated lemon zest

1. Wash the spinach very well in several changes of water. Spinach tends to hold dirt, so make sure you wash it until the water runs clear. Drain and shake the spinach dry.

2. Place a large pan (big enough to hold the spinach) over medium high heat. Add the spinach and cook until it just wilts (the water clinging to the leaves after washing generates enough steam for cooking), about 2 minutes. Immediately remove from heat. Drain the spinach in a colander, squeezing out any excess moisture, and set aside.

3. Rinse and dry the pan. Add the butter and melt gently over low heat until softly foaming, then add the shallots and sweat for 5 minutes, or until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two, then season generously with salt and pepper.

4. Add the spinach and turn once or twice to combine, then pour in the stock and turn up the heat to high. Bring to a simmer, then immediately remove from the heat. Don't overcook it or the spinach will turn color. Coarsely puree the soup using an immersion blender, or using a stand blender, in batches as necessary. Don't puree it too fine or the soup will seem watery.

5. Return the soup to the pan and stir in the creme fraiche. Add the grated nutmeg, then check for seasoning -- adding a little more nutmeg, pepper and/or salt to taste. Salt in particular is key to the flavor of this soup. Reheat gently and sprinkle with grated lemon zest just before serving. This makes a generous 5 cups of soup.

Each serving: 176 calories; 8 grams protein; 8 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 14 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 32 mg cholesterol; 2 grams sugar; 156 mg sodium.

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