Making Broccoli and Chicken Noodle Soup Less Rich in Calories

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chicken-soup_cThis rich and creamy soup can have 40 percent fewer calories and 62 percent less fat than the heavy original. Several ingredients contributed to the soup's heavy nutritional report card: processed cheese, butter, whole milk, and half-and-half add a hefty amount of fat. Its canned cream of mushroom soup, regular chicken broth, and processed cheese added significant sodium. How can we make it healthier?

A childhood favorite, this creamy soup is a weeknight go-to for one Farmer. She received the recipe from her mother, Brenda ­Geiger, and wanted to give it to a friend for a cookbook project. Yet Farmer felt some guilt.

Several ingredients contributed to the soup's heavy nutritional report card: processed cheese, butter, whole milk, and half-and-half add a hefty amount of fat. Its canned cream of mushroom soup, regular chicken broth, and processed cheese added significant sodium.

The solution: The soup's base warranted the bulk of our attention. We halved the amount of processed cheese and swapped to a lighter version, maintaining a satisfying taste and texture but cutting 79 calories, seven fat grams (five grams of which were saturated), and 286 milligrams of sodium per serving. We made a white sauce for the soup's base with just three tablespoons of butter and a little flour to thicken low-fat milk; omitting the can of soup cut 25 calories per bowlful. With half the rich half-and-half, we added an extra cup of low-fat milk (instead of the full-fat type) to ensure a silky texture and saved 35 calories, four grams of fat, and two grams of saturated fat. Instead of using one-half cup butter to sauté the onion, we used cooking spray and added fresh mushrooms to enhance the taste. Reducing five tablespoons of butter (three tablespoons are used in the white sauce) shaved 50 calories and six grams of fat (31/2 grams saturated) per serving. We switched regular chicken broth for the fat-free, less-sodium type, and used less to shave 216 milligrams sodium. Since we broke the long noodles, which are easier to eat, we could also halve the amount to eliminate another 40 calories.


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