Whip up a low-fat soup

Q: I’d like to make more low-fat and low-cal soups. In particular, I am looking for a healthy, low fat recipe for tortilla soup. Any suggestions?

A: Skip past all your cream soup recipes and head directly to the broth soups. It is nearly impossible to create a low-fat, low-calorie cream soup that stands up to the rib-stickin’ popularity of the full-fat versions. Broths, on the other hand, can deliver high flavor without the punishment of fat overload.

Still, beware of fat sneaking into the pot. A favorite trick of soup cooks is to sauté the soup vegetables in oil, butter, bacon or salt pork. You don’t need fat to find the flavor. You’ll find it later, floating on top of the soup, jumping into every spoonful. Use good rich broth. And, cook the vegetables in a small amount of the broth to start the cooking process.

If you are shedding pounds and want a low-cal soup, concentrate on vegetables, aromatics (garlic, citrus juice or ginger) and fresh herbs to build flavor and substance to hearty broth soup. Fresh or frozen cut vegetables add texture and not many calories. I especially like onions, carrots, tomatoes, celery, scallions, sugar snap peas, green peas, snow peas, cabbage, broccoli, bell peppers, chili peppers, green beans, wax beans, summer squash and other garden vegetables. Starches like pasta, rice and potatoes are great fillers – but they bring the calories.

Quick and Healthy Low-Fat Cooking:

Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • 3 cups defatted chicken broth
  • ½ cup sliced onions
  • 1 cup diced red potatoes
  • ½ large green pepper, diced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into thin strips
  • 1 can (14 ounces) Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon chopped jalapeño peppers (wear plastic gloves when handling)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 (6″) corn tortillas
  • olive oil no-stick cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, bring ½ cup of the broth to a boil. Add the onions, potatoes, green peppers and garlic. Cook and stir for 5 minutes. Add the chicken; cook and stir for 1 minute.

Add the stewed tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, cumin and remaining 2 ½ cups of broth. Bring to a boil. Simmer the soup, uncovered, over medium heat for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F. Coat both sides of the tortillas with olive oil no-stick cooking spray; cut them into thin strips and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until crisp. Add the lime juice and cilantro to the soup; top each bowl with the tortilla strips.

PER SERVING: 240 calories, 2.3 g. fat (8% of calories), 2.3 g. dietary fiber, 34 mg. cholesterol, 497 mg. sodium. Serves 4.

The lime juice and cilantro give this soup an authentic taste and aroma. Sip a spoonful, close your eyes and you will be transported to a romantic restaurant.

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