DEAR JEANNE: This is one of my favorite recipes. I hope there is a lower-fat way to prepare it. – Carolyn Cheney, Kent, Wash.

ONION SOUP

2 pounds onions

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons flour

4 cups beef stock or canned broth

1 cup water (or 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup white wine)

2 tablespoons brandy

1/2 loaf French bread

1/2 pound Gruyere cheese (about 2 cups grated)

1. Cut onions into thin slices.

2. Heat butter and oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to soften, about 10 minutes.

3. Reduce heat to low and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until onions are caramelized, about 1 hour 15 minutes in all. After 30 minutes of cooking, the onions should be a light golden brown. Thirty to 45 minutes later, the onions should be a deep brown. Dark, caramelized onions are the secret to good onion soup.

4. Stir flour into onions, bring to a bubble, then cook 2 or 3 minutes.

5. Slowly stir in stock, water and brandy. Simmer, partially covered, about 15 minutes to blend flavors. Taste for seasoning.

6. Heat oven to 325. Cut bread into 4 1-inch-thick slices. Place on a baking sheet and bake until dry, about 6 minutes per side.

7. Heat broiler. Grate cheese. Pour soup into heatproof serving bowls. Put a piece of bread on top of each. Mound cheese on top of bread. Broil until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

 

DEAR CAROLYN: Although the soup is delicious, many people are drawn to this soup because of the gooey cheese melted on a large crouton on top of the soup. Most of the fat is in the cheese. I have reduced the amount of cheese, and I felt very satisfied; but if you would like more cheese, each 1/4 cup grated is 1 ounce, and that usually is the serving size on the package. Add the extra cheese’s fat grams and calories to the total (5 grams fat and 80 calories, in this case). Look for the most flavorful cheese you can find in a reduced-fat version. I like the pre-mixed and -grated blend of Italian cheeses, partly because it is hard to find many cheeses in a reduced-fat version, and this is one of the most flavorful. You can leave out the alcohol, but use it if you can, as it adds a wonderful flavor. You must have bowls for the soup that can be put under the broiler.

REDUCED-FAT ONION SOUP

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 pounds onions, thinly sliced (about 4 to 5 medium)

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (1/2 teaspoon dried)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

4 cups fat-free beef broth

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons brandy

4 1-inch-thick pieces of whole-wheat bread

4 ounces (1 cup) grated reduced-fat Italian cheese blend

4 teaspoons Parmesan cheese

1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large nonstick pan. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook another hour, stirring occasionally, until the onions are a deep brown but not burnt. Add the garlic and cook another 5 minutes. Add the thyme and pepper.

2. Stir in the beef broth, wine, water and brandy. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for another 15 minutes.

3. While the onions are cooking, preheat the oven to 325 and cut the bread to fit the top of the heatproof soup bowls. Place the bread on a baking sheet and bake until dry, about 5 minutes on each side.

4. Heat the broiler. Pour 1/4 of the soup (11/2 cups) into each serving bowl. Place on a baking sheet and then top the soup with the dry bread. Add 1/4 cup of the grated cheese and top with 1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese. Broil until golden brown, 3-5 minutes, depending on your broiler.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains approximately: Original recipe: 689 calories; 33 g fat; 78 mg cholesterol; 2,417 mg sodium; 54 g carbohydrates; 36 g protein; 6 g fiber. Revised Recipe: 302 calories; 9 g fat; 11 mg cholesterol; 859 mg sodium; 31 g carbohydrates; 27 g protein; 8 g fiber.

 

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– King Features