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Commissary offers warm food solutions for cooler weather

FORT LEE, Va. -- A curious phenomenon occurs in commissaries everywhere this time of year. In order to be prepared for it, our meat and grocery managers have learned to pay close attention to the weather forecast because the first cold snap of the season brings hordes of commissary shoppers in search of soup and chili fixin's. And why not, a bowl of well-seasoned chili is tailor-made for chili weather. If you choose the ingredients carefully, a steaming bowl of soup offers a ton of satisfaction for only a handful of calories.

Chili is about as personal as our most comfortable pair of shoes - we each know how we like it and no other way will do. If that description fits you and you have a favorite recipe, then just keep using it. If you're still playing the field for a favorite, try my very own recipe for Southwest Style Chili, which includes canned hominy in addition to the usual beef and beans combination. Even people who think they don't like hominy like the Southwest Style Chili.

Looking for something a little lighter in calories, but still warm and soothing? Try one of the featured soup recipes. Soups lowest in calories will almost always be those made with vegetables and a clear broth base. If the recipe starts with sautéing the vegetables in butter or oil, cut calories by using only half the fat called for and add 1/4 cup water or broth. This technique, called sweating, serves the same purpose as sautéing (tenderization and flavor development) and sometimes does it even better.

If cream soups are more to your liking, but you think they are all too high in fat and calories, do the math before rejecting a favorite recipe. Divide the total amount of cream called for into the total number of servings the recipe will make. For many recipes, a one-cup serving of the soup will contain only a few tablespoon of cream. There are 16 tablespoons in a cup, by the way - you'll need to know that in order to do the math. Most cream soups can also be made with low-fat milk, yogurt or a touch of sour cream, all of which are much lower in fat and calories than regular cream.

No time to cook? No problem. We've got you covered with a wide selection of ready-made soups including canned soups (both condensed and ready-to-serve) packaged dried soup fixin's (just add water or broth) even soups to sip while you're on the run (just microwave, shake and drink from the built-in, sip-top lid). Want it at cost? Then buy it at the commissary where an average of more than 30 percent savings is already built in. Bring your coupons to save even more.

To check out recipes and more, come to Kay's Kitchen at www.commissaries.com. As always, you'll save 30 percent or more on the ingredients for all of these recipes in your local commissary.