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Preparing Soup For the Heart - Montgomery County

Set a New Year’s resolution around personal health goals? Such as cooking more at home, lowering blood pressure, finally learning how to use that pressure cooker collecting dust in the closet? University of Illinois Extension is here to help! Join University of Illinois Extension for a hands-on workshop on creating heart-healthy soup under pressure on Tuesday, February 4, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Montgomery County Extension Office (#1 Industrial Park Dr., Hillsboro).

Creating heart-healthy soup under pressure is a hands-on workshop focused on preparing soup with less sodium and fat, but a burst of flavor using the popular electric pressure cookers, such as the instant pot. The class allows participants to practice using the cookers, taste test hearty soup recipes, and make informed decisions for lowering blood pressure. Lisa Peterson, Nutrition and Wellness Educator with University of Illinois Extension who will be leading the class, explains, “Making soup from scratch can be a daunting task. This class focuses on showing how simple it can be using a pressure cooker, plus cutting back on the excess sodium we often do not even taste in processed soups.” Over 70% of the sodium Americans consume is from processed, restaurant, and packaged foods. Cutting back on sodium can reduce the risk of high blood pressure. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines from Americans recommend that Americans consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, which is equivalent to about one teaspoon of salt.

Watching portion sizes, reading nutrition facts labels, and draining and rinsing canned vegetables are just a few recommendations for lowering sodium intake. The class will also discuss the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension eating plan (DASH), and the benefits of increased potassium in the diet to cut the risk of cardiovascular disease. “Potassium is found in foods like yogurt, sweet potatoes, beans, lentils, leafy greens, tomatoes, and potatoes. Bananas are not the only source. Research shows increasing potassium intake in those with hypertension can help in controlling blood pressure,” Peterson clarifies. Unlike sodium, Americans are not getting enough potassium per day. On average, Americans consume 2,500 mg. of potassium per day when 4,700 mg. is the daily recommendation.

The cost of the class is $5 and advance registration is required by January 31. To sign up, register online at or call Montgomery County Extension Office at 217-532-3941. For further questions about the course, please contact Lisa Peterson, University of Illinois Nutrition and Wellness Educator at or by calling Montgomery County Extension Office at 217-532-3941. Celebrate National Heart Month with Extension by learning how to use a pressure cooker safely and shifting towards healthier cooking habits.

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.  If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact our office. Universidad de Illinois ofrece igualdad de oportunidades en programas y empleo. Si usted necesita un ajuste razonable para participar en este programa, por favor póngase en contacto con nuestra oficina.


Creamy White Chicken Chili

1 lb. chicken breast

2 tsp. canola oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic

2-4.5 oz. can chilies

2-14.5 oz. cans low sodium cannellini beans, drained

1 tbsp. chili powder

1 tbsp. cumin

½ tsp. pepper

¼ tsp. salt

2 cups low sodium chicken stock (Gluten Free-optional)

2 cups low fat milk warmed

½ cup light sour cream

3 tbsp. cornstarch

3 tbsp. water












For an electric multi-cooker/pressure cooker:

  1. Wash hands. Turn the sauté button on. Sauté oil and onions for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds.
  2. Turn sauté function off. Add chicken, stock, beans, chili powder, pepper, salt, and cumin. Secure the lid on the multicooker, ensure the pressure release valve is set on sealing. Use the manual or pressure cook button, set for 20 minutes. Allow for natural release for 10 minutes, then quick release.
  3. Carefully remove lid, remove chicken. Using a food thermometer ensure the chicken is cooked to 165F. Shred chicken, and place back into cooker.
  4. Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Add sour cream, milk, and cornstarch and water mixture to multicooker. Turn multicooker back to sauté, and stir constantly to prevent burning and mix until soup starts boiling, turn off. Soup will thicken. Serve with cilantro if desired. YIELD: 10-1 cup servings

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 190 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 40 milligrams cholesterol, 290 milligrams sodium, 19 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber,  17 grams protein