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Cook it light: Creamy artichoke soup without all the fat

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 20 2012 3:41 p.m. MST

Dear Jeanne: I absolutely love this soup. I know that artichokes have lots of fiber, and if I could remove the cream yet still keep this creamy, I think it would be a very healthy soup.

What can you do?

— Gloria, Indianapolis

Dear Gloria: This soup needs only a few changes, and it's still delicious and creamy, yet the fat goes from 42 grams down to 3 grams per serving!

I think you will love it, and it takes only a few minutes to make. If you have a stick blender that you can place in the pan, it makes it even easier.

I found that the frozen artichoke hearts were less expensive, because there were 3 cups of hearts in the package compared with 11/2 cups in the can, so you can use 1 bag of the frozen artichokes instead of 2 cans. Plus, there almost always is less sodium in frozen food than in canned food, as there is in this case.

If you would like to have an even lower-fat version, omit the cheese, and you'll cut out 2 grams of fat and 30 calories.

CREAM OF ARTICHOKE SOUP

1/2 stick butter

1 cup onion, chopped

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1/2 cup carrot, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons flour

3 cups chicken broth, divided use

2 cans (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, chopped

2 cups heavy cream

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion, celery and carrot, and cook until softened. Add the garlic, then the flour. Cook for 2 minutes more. Add 1 cup of the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Keep adding the chicken broth until all of it is added, and bring to a full boil. Add the chopped artichoke hearts. Transfer half of the soup at a time to a blender to puree. Return to the pan and add the heavy cream. Heat the soup to serving temperature and season with the salt and pepper. Stir in the Parmesan cheese while the soup is hot.

Makes 6 servings.

LOW-FAT CREAM OF ARTICHOKE SOUP

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 cup finely chopped celery

1/2 cup finely chopped carrot

3 cups fat-free chicken broth, divided use

3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot

1 bag (14 ounces) frozen artichoke hearts, or 2 cans (14 ounces each) artichoke hearts (about 3 cups), chopped

2 cups fat-free half-and-half

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot. Add 1 cup of the chicken broth to the vegetables to prevent burning, and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic and the rest of the chicken broth. Dissolve the cornstarch or arrowroot in cold water or chicken broth, and stir it in. Bring to a boil.

2. Add the chopped artichoke hearts to the pan, and use a stick blender in the pan to puree the soup, or carefully place half of the hot soup into a blender at a time, placing a towel over the top to prevent the lid from popping off. Return to the saucepan after pureeing, and add the half-and-half. Return to a boil. Add the pepper and Parmesan cheese.

Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains approximately: Original Recipe: 499 calories; 42 gm fat; 140 mg cholesterol; 1,463 mg sodium; 18 gm carbohydrates; 14 gm protein; 4 gm fiber. Revised Recipe: 136 calories; 3 gm fat; 5 mg cholesterol; 260 mg sodium; 17 gm carbohydrates; 5 gm protein; 4 gm fiber.

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. Send your recipe for revision to: Cook It Light, Deseret News P.O. Box 1212 La Jolla, CA 92038. Please include a stamped (61 cents), self-addressed envelope. © King Features Syndicate Inc.

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