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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Comfort soup with fewer calories

By Elaine Magee
Knight Ridder News Service

Q. One of my all-time comfort foods in the winter is New England clam chowder. Do you have a light recipe I can make at home fairly easily? I just don't like the taste of the canned options.

A. New England clam chowder is a favorite soup of both my husband and myself, but I've never attempted to make it.

On www.allrecipes.com I found a top-rated recipe, winner of the Newport Clam Chowder Cookoff Contest, from which to start.

The changes I made: less butter, a lowfat milk and flour paste instead of a roux to thicken the soup, more potatoes for texture, fat-free half-and-half instead of cream, and reduced-fat sharp cheddar instead of regular.

The calories went down 100 per serving, the total fat decreased by 12 grams and the saturated fat by over 6 grams. The cholesterol was cut in half and the fiber went up by 1 gram per serving.

I gave a sample of this soup to several friends and neighbors and they all loved it. It's even more impressive when served in a bread bowl.

The original recipe had 340 calories, 18.5 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 70 mg cholesterol and 2 g fiber.

Light clam chowder

  • 2 tablespoons butter or no-trans tub margarine
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2/3 cup sliced celery
  • 1/3 cup unbleached white flour or Wondra quick-mixing flour
  • 2/3 cup lowfat milk (or fat-free half-and-half), divided use
  • 2 (5-ounce) cans boiled baby clams in juice
  • 16 ounces clam juice
  • 1 pound red or white potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free half-and-half
  • Pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill weed
  • 1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese

Melt butter in a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat.

Add onions and celery and sauté until lightly golden (about 3 minutes).

While onions are cooking, blend 1/3 cup flour with 1/3 cup lowfat milk in 2-cup measure to make a paste. Stir in the remaining ¡ cup lowfat milk. When onions are lightly golden, turn off heat and stir the flour mixture into the onion mixture. Reserve for later use.

In a medium, nonstick saucepan, bring clams (with liquid) and clam juice to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 15 minutes more.

In a microwave-safe dish, cover diced potatoes with water and cook in microwave on high until potatoes are tender (about 10 minutes). Or add the potatoes and water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil then cook until potatoes are tender (about 10-15 minutes).

Drain and set aside.

Start heating the large saucepan with the onions and milk mixture over medium-high heat.

Slowly pour the hot clam stock into the butter/flour mixture while stirring or whisking constantly. Continue to stir and slowly bring mixture to a boil.

Reduce heat and stir in the cooked potatoes. Stir in the half-and-half, pepper, salt if desired, and chopped dill and turn down the heat to medium-low. Keep cooking until heated through (but do not boil).

Spoon in individual soup bowls and sprinkle each with a little cheddar cheese over the top.

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving (not including the bread bowl): 240 calories, 17 g protein, 36 g carbohydrate, 6 g fat (3.6 g saturated fat, 1.7 g monounsaturated fat, .4 g polyunsaturated fat), 34 mg cholesterol, 3 grams fiber, 256 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 22.5 percent. Omega-3 fatty acids, 0.2 g; omega-6, 0.2 g. Weight Watchers points: 5.

Elaine Magee is author of "The Recipe Doctor Cookbook" and "The Flax Cookbook". Write to her through her Web site at www.recipedoctor.com. Personal responses cannot be provided.