Choosing a tall, cool glass of skim milk is a smart move that can significantly reduce your saturated fat intake over time. But when it comes to a cream-based soup, skim milk just doesn’t have enough heft.
This Potato, Leek and Cheese Soup relies on fat-free half-and-half to cut the fat yet maintain a silken texture that glides over the tongue.
Half-and-half is a luxurious combination of whole milk and cream. According to the USDA, whole milk contains 3.5 percent fat and heavy cream contains 36 percent fat. Half-and-half typically contains 10.5 to 18 percent fat.
But in recent years, fat-free versions of half-and-half have become available. Like reduced-fat cheeses, initial reactions to the taste and texture have been mixed.
In “The Food Lover’s Companion” (Barron’s), Sharon Tyler Herbst describes fat-free half-and-half as “an oxymoronically named product” that combines skim milk with corn syrup and thickeners such as carrageenan to give it the texture of cream. Compared to the real deal, the calories are cut in half but the sodium doubles.
If you use a blender instead of a food processor, be sure to allow the soup to cool before puréeing.
Potato, Leek and Cheese Soup
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 medium leeks, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into ½-inch cubes
2 cans (14.5 ounces) fat-free reduced- sodium chicken broth
13 cup fat-free half-and-half
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1½ cups shredded 2 percent Cheddar cheese
Chives or chopped flat-leaf parsley (for garnish)
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add leeks and cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add potatoes, chicken broth, half-and-half, mustard and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to simmer and cook 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Add cheese and stir until melted. Transfer soup in small batches to a food processor and blend until smooth. Keep soup warm until ready to serve. Just before serving, garnish with chives or chopped flat-leaf parsley.
Yield: 6 servings
Nutritional information per serving: 193 cal; 4 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 6 mmg chol; 23 g carbo; 15 g pro; 384 mg sodium; 2 g dietary fiber
Source: Professional home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss.
On the Low-fat Menu appears every Tuesday in the Food and Health section.