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Delicious and nutritious tomato soup

By Jeanne Jones

Published: Tuesday, July 31 2012 5:02 p.m. MDT

Dear Jeanne: When I make this soup for myself, I use half-and-half, but it curdles. Is it the heat or the acidic tomatoes that causes this to happen? Heavy cream is a little too heavy, but it doesn't curdle. Can you reduce the fat and keep this soup from curdling? Thanks.

— Ashley, Manhattan Beach, Calif.

Dear Ashley: This is a very nutritious soup. I can make it taste just like the original, without any curdling and without the fat of the heavy cream. You are right — the heat causes the acid from the tomatoes to curdle the protein in the half-and-half. If you add a little starch to coat the acid, it will prevent that from happening. So you must add a little flour, cornstarch or arrowroot — whichever you prefer — and bring it to a boil before you add the fat-free half-and-half. I used fresh basil in my version, because I really like the flavor with tomato soup. You also can use fresh tomatoes; just use 10 cups, peeled and, preferably, seeded, with juice, in place of the 3 cans.

Jeanne Jones is the author of 33 cookbooks, most recently "Cooking From the Cupboard" (Rodale Press). For more information, you can go to her website, jeannejones.com.

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ASHLEY'S TOMATO SOUP

Makes: 14 cups

3-4 carrots, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1-3 cloves garlic, minced

3 cans (28 ounces each) whole tomatoes

Dried basil, to taste

Dried oregano, to taste

1 quart chicken broth

2 cups heavy cream

Salt and pepper, to taste

Saute the carrots and onion in the olive oil until softened. Add the garlic, tomatoes, basil, oregano and broth. Simmer for 20 to 45 minutes, however long time permits. Puree the mixture with an immersion blender. Add the heavy cream, salt and pepper.

ASHLEY'S LOW-FAT TOMATO SOUP

Makes: 14 cups

4 carrots, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

3 cans (28 ounces each) whole tomatoes

4 1/2 cups fat-free chicken broth, divided use

3 tablespoons flour or 2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot

2 cups fat-free half-and-half

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1. In a large soup pot, saute the carrots and onion in the olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes and 4 cups of the broth. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Combine the flour, cornstarch or arrowroot with the remaining 1/2 cup broth and stir to dissolve. Quickly stir this mixture into the soup and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

3. Using an immersion blender, or in batches in a regular blender, puree the soup. When it is totally pureed, add the fat-free half-and-half, salt, pepper and chopped basil. Bring to serving temperature.

Each cup contains approximately: Original Recipe: 208 calories; 17 gm fat; 47 mg cholesterol; 795 mg sodium; 12 gm carbohydrates; 4 gm protein; 3 gm fiber. Revised Recipe: 90 calories; 2 gm fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 354 mg sodium; 14 gm carbohydrates; 5 gm protein; 2 gm fiber.

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