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Why Lasagna Is the Worst Dish to Bring to a Potluck
We love a bubbling casserole of pasta and cheese as much as you do, but there's a case to be made for shaking things up at your next party. Here are five amazing alternative ideas.
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Classic Chicken and Wild Rice Hotdish

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An Easier Way to Deliver Hot and Cheesy Deliciousness
It's not that we don't adore lasagna—but we have to admit that the return on investment for this crowd-pleasing classic is pretty low (if you're making it from scratch). You spend a couple of hours in the kitchen, only to watch the lasagna be gobbled up in minutes. Save this pasta bake for a night when you can savor it at home (and enjoy the leftovers for days)—and try one of these other recipes the next time you have to bring something to a party. They're from Amy Thielen's new cookbook, The New Midwestern Table, which brims with 200 recipes for the rustic, soul-tugging cuisine of Thielen's potluck-centric childhood in Minnesota.

First up is this homespun "hotdish," an update on the famous chicken-wild rice combination. Thielen makes a simple, fresh mushroom sauce instead of using the traditional canned cream-soup base, though she still calls for a topping made from Ritz or Keebler Club crackers.

Get the recipe: Classic Chicken and Wild Rice Hotdish

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    The 25-Calorie Wonder Dip You Must Try
    Put down the hummus and step away from the fat-free sour cream and onion dip. This totally unexpected healthy spread (and the three that follow it) redefines guilt-free party food.
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    Lemony Yogurt Dip with Dill

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    The "Wait—That's Yogurt?" Veggie Dip
    Greek cooks know how well tangy plain yogurt goes with lemon and dill. When you add salt, pepper and garlic, it loses its breakfast-y feel; the additions lend it a savory flavor that complements fresh vegetables, such as broccoli, bell peppers and celery.

    Calories per serving: 25

    Get the recipe: Lemony Yogurt Dip with Dill

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      Tortilla Soup Recipe
      The origin of Tortilla Soup may be south of the border, but the intriguing flavor has long made it a California favorite. Among the smoky spices, soothing tomato broth and pile of fixings, what's not to love? While there are many variations, it's the ground tortillas that give the soup a unique thickness and flavor. Simple to prepare, skip straining this blended soup for a more rustic presentation. If you want to add protein, top with shredded chicken or black beans.
      Tortilla Soup
      Photo: Victoria Pearson

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      Makes 8 cups

      Ingredients

      • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
      • 1 large onion, chopped
      • 4 garlic cloves, minced
      • 1 tsp. coarse salt
      • 1 tsp. chili powder
      • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
      • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
      • 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano leaves, chopped
      • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes (with juice)
      • 1 1/2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
      • 3 cups fried corn tortilla strips, plus more for serving
      • Cubed avocado, cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheese and lime wedges, for serving

      Directions


      Coat a soup pot with the oil and put over medium heat.

      When the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic. Cook and stir until the onion begins to soften but not brown, about 3 minutes. Season with salt, chili powder, cayenne, cumin and oregano. Cook and stir for about 2 minutes or until the spices become fragrant, taking care not to burn. Pour in the diced tomatoes and broth. Simmer until the tomatoes thicken slightly, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

      Increase the heat to medium-high, and bring the soup to a boil. Add the tortilla chips. Simmer until the chips soften and break down into the soup, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

      Working in batches, ladle the soup into a blender, filling it no more than halfway. Puree for a few seconds until completely smooth; be sure to hold down the lid with a kitchen towel for safety. If you have an immersion blender, this is a great time to use it.

      If desired, pass the soup through a fine-mesh strainer into a terrine or other pot, pushing the solids with the back of a wooden spoon. Discard the vegetable pieces. Repeat with the remaining soup. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, if needed.

      Serve the soup with your favorite toppings such as tortilla chips, avocado, cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheese and fresh lime.

      From The Lemonade Cookbook by Alan Jackson and JoAnn Cianciulli. Copyright © 2013 by Alan Jackson and Joann Cianciulli and reprinted by permission of St. Martin's Press, LLC.

      More Delicious Soup Recipes

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        3 Comments
        Geoff Ruckers
        57 days ago
        I had funny experience with a tortilla soup. I got one with all the fixings and next thing I knew, out waiter gave me two al pastor tacos he thought I would enjoy.
        Anna Salvador
        57 days ago
        Reminds me of the tasty tortilla soup I had while I was in La Quinta for a weekend getaway.
        Alex Dao
        56 days ago
        La Quinta would not have been my first guess for good tortilla soup, but I guess you gotta try it first!

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        Creamed Cauliflower Soup Recipe
        In Los Angeles, where cocktail dresses pass for day wear and executives wear flip-flops to board meetings, this soup follows suit dressed up with a dollop of caviar or modestly sipped from a coffee cup. Down-to-earth and stylish at the same time, cauliflower and potato are pureed into a smooth, winter-white soup. Thickened with potatoes and just a bit of cream, the mouthfeel is silky without tasting too rich. Creamed Cauliflower Soup doubles as a luxurious sauce pooled under seared scallops. Serve with smoked salmon, watercress salad or crusty French bread.
        Creamed Cauliflower Soup
        Photo: Victoria Pearson

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        Makes 8 cups

        Ingredients

        • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
        • 1 onion, halved and sliced
        • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
        • 1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), coarsely chopped, including stems
        • 2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
        • 1 tsp. coarse salt, plus more for serving
        • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
        • 1 1/2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
        • 2 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
        • 1 cup heavy cream

        Directions


        Coat a soup pot with the oil and place over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion, garlic, cauliflower and bay leaves. Cook and stir until the vegetables begin to soften but do not brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

        Pour in the broth, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes and continue to cook until fork-tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

        Reduce the heat to medium-low, pour in the cream and gently simmer until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.

        Working in batches, ladle the soup into a blender, filling it no more than halfway. Puree for a few seconds until completely smooth; be sure to hold down the lid with a kitchen towel for safety. If you have an immersion blender, this is a great time to use it.

        If desired, pass the soup through a fine-mesh strainer into a terrine or other pot, pushing the solids with the back of a wooden spoon. Discard the vegetable pieces. Repeat with the remaining soup.

        Divide among soup bowls or coffee cups. Season each serving with a pinch of salt and pepper.

        From The Lemonade Cookbook by Alan Jackson and JoAnn Cianciulli. Copyright © 2013 by Alan Jackson and Joann Cianciulli and reprinted by permission of St. Martin's Press, LLC.

        More Delicious Soup Recipes

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          The Dinnertime Miracle: A 22-Minute Meal Everybody Will Love
          When it's you versus the clock, and scrambled eggs are not an option, turn to this totally new pasta dish—or any of the three superfast, delicious dinners that follow.
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          Spaghetti

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          The Lifesaver Pasta That You Never Saw Coming
          When you feel like you're on a competitive cooking show but it's really just you, your kitchen and three hungry people (one of whom is whining about the grilled-chicken run you've been on lately), turn to this unique take on huevos rancheros. There's definitely no shame in serving breakfast for dinner, but this delicious main course takes the Mexican classic's key ingredients—eggs and salsa—and applies them to pasta, so the egg yolks and salsa turn into a silky sauce for spaghetti. It's salty, creamy, a little spicy—yet familiar, too. (And it probably would at least get you into the next round on TV.)

          Get the recipe: Huevos Rancheros Spaghetti

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            Sweets to Serve with Tea
            These delicate treats will enhance—rather than overpower—whatever you're sipping, whether it's chamomile or chai.
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            Tea cake

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            A Light and Airy Cake That Has a Just-Decadent-Enough Frosting
            The beauty of sponge cake is that it's made with little to no fat, so it's fluffy with tiny pockets of air. A fluffy and smooth buttercream frosting provides the perfect contrast, and holds the cake's two round layers together.

            Get the recipe: Sponge Cake with Buttercream Frosting

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