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Tricks help you make thick soups minus the fat

Thinking about how to fill up while on a diet? Think about soup.

Soup as a main course is an excellent way to feel satisfied by eating low-calorie vegetables and liquid. And this is a good strategy for consuming fewer calories without feeling deprived.

Of course, you still have to take care with which soups you select. A 1-cup serving of creamy New England clam chowder can have as many as 17 grams of fat.

There are, however, several techniques for making thick and delicious soups that don’t require serious amounts of fat.

Consider pureeing cooked beans with some broth or water to make the base of a soup. The results are hearty and flavorful, though admittedly not quite as smooth as a cream-based soup.

Products such as light sour cream and low-fat yogurt also can be used to get creamy results. They have enough fat to achieve a satisfying richness and add a pleasant, tangy flavor.

Pureed vegetables do an excellent job of creating smooth-textured soups. Winter or summer squash can be roasted (which creates complex flavor by caramelizing the natural sugars in the vegetables), then put through a food mill or pureed in a blender or food processor.

For a busy weeknight, try this recipe for creamy squash soup with peppers and fresh lime. It takes only 30 minutes to prepare and uses convenient frozen pureed squash combined with red bell pepper, jalapeño, ground cumin and fresh lime juice to create a velvety soup with a Southwestern flair.

To make it a complete meal, serve with some crunchy whole-grain breadsticks and a fresh garden salad.

Squash Soup with Peppers and Fresh Lime

2 (12-ounce) packages frozen pureed squash

2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

1 large potato, peeled and diced

1 red green bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Fresh lime wedges, for serving

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the squash and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the squash is thawed, about 10 minutes.

Add the potato, red bell pepper and jalapeño and continue to simmer until the potatoes are tender and the soup has thickened, about another 10 minutes.

Stir in the salt, cumin and lime juice. Serve topped with fresh cilantro and with lime wedges alongside.

Yield: 6 servings

Approximate nutrition information per serving: 83 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, 19 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams protein, 4 grams fiber, 706 milligrams sodium.

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