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Asparagus & Rice Soup

Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes • Serves: 4

1 tablespoon Schnucks extra virgin olive oil
1 container (20 ounces) Schnucks refrigerated soup starter vegetables or 1-1/3 cups each diced carrots, celery and onion
1 container (48 to 49 ounces) less-sodium chicken broth (6 cups)
1/2 cup unprepared converted or extra long grain white rice
1 package (8 ounces) mini cubed ham, drained
1 bunch fresh asparagus (about 1 pound), each spear cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces (about 2-1/2 cups)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
grated Pecorino Romano cheese (optional)

1. In 4- to 5-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add soup starter vegetables and cook, covered, 15 minutes or until celery is tender and begins to brown, stirring occasionally. Add broth; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; stir in rice. Cover and cook 15 minutes. Add ham, asparagus and pepper. Cook 4 to 5 minutes or until asparagus is tender.

2. Ladle soup into soup bowls and sprinkle with cheese, if desired. Makes about 10-1/2 cups.

Each serving: about 306 calories, 9 g total fat (3 g saturated), 33 mg cholesterol, 1609 mg sodium, 37 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 8 g sugars, 19 g protein