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Soup's on

It's October, so it's officially soup season. There are several canned varieties that I truly like. I also bump up some - for a delicious variation, add chunks of avocado and a dash or two of garlic powder, and chiffonade fresh basil into canned tomato soup. It's delicious warm or cold.

When temperatures get the least bit temperate, though, I also can stand the thought of making my own soup. I'm not the sort of person who will make her own stock - my soup is not THAT homemade (and I truly admire those of you who will do it). But with the right ingredients, you can impress others and even yourself.

This recipe is from an issue of "Weight Watchers Five Ingredient 15 Minute Cookbook" published by Oxmoor House. You can find these cookbooks about twice a year in the magazine section. The latest incarnation was a "20 Minute Cookbook," so they might have adjusted things a bit. This recipe uses my beloved prechopped onion. I get the frozen type and empty out as much as I need. No raccoon eyes!

Spinach and Tomato Tortellini Soup

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 cup prechopped onion

5 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

2 cups hot water

1 cup julienne-cut sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 (9 ounce) package fresh cheese tortellini

2 cups packed fresh baby spinach

Shredded fresh Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion; saute 2 minutes. Add broth and next 3 ingredients; cover and bring to a boil. Add pasta and spinach and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes or until pasta is done. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Yield: 8 servings, 1-cup serving size. Per serving: 139 calories, 2.9 grams fat, 2.4 grams fiber, 12 grams cholesterol, 652 mg sodium.