DEAR JEANNE: I really love this soup. Can you make it without all the cream, but still keep it thick and creamy? — Sommer M., Surprise, Ariz.


4 tablespoons butter

1 onion, chopped

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups chicken broth

1 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups half-and-half

1 teaspoon salt

Pepper to taste

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add flour and stir for 2 minutes. Gradually mix in chicken broth. Bring mixture to a boil. Add asparagus pieces and simmer until asparagus is very tender, about 25 minutes. Puree asparagus in food processor. Return mixture to saucepan. Add the half-and-half; season with salt and pepper. Bring soup to a simmer.

Makes 6 servings.


DEAR SOMMER: This is very tasty, and really not too much work. Fat-free half-and-half has a very creamy texture, but it cannot be boiled without a stabilizer such as arrowroot, cornstarch or flour. If you would rather, you can use evaporated skim milk or 1 percent milk; these starches also thicken the thinner milks.


1 teaspoon olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 1/2 cups fat-free chicken broth

1 pound asparagus, chopped into 1-inch pieces, tips set aside

Black pepper to taste

2 teaspoons arrowroot

2 cups fat-free half-and-half

1. In a medium-size saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery and garlic, and saute. Add the chicken broth a little at a time to prevent scorching, and cook until vegetables are softened, about five minutes.

2. Add the asparagus, reserving the tips. Cover with the rest of the chicken broth, add the pepper and bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until very soft, about 20 minutes. Puree using an immersion blender, or in batches in a blender.

3. Steam the asparagus tips until tender. Dissolve the arrowroot in the cold fat-free half-and-half, and add to the pureed asparagus mixture; add the asparagus tips. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until thickened and hot.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains approximately: Original recipe: 317 calories; 26 gm fat; 50 mg cholesterol; 1,083 mg sodium; 14 gm carbohydrates; 8 gm protein; 2 gm fiber. Revised recipe: 128 calories; 1 gm fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 137 mg sodium; 19 gm carbohydrates; 2 gm protein; 2 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 Web site, Send your recipe for revision to: Cook It Light, P.O. Box 1212, La Jolla, CA 92038. Please include a stamped (61 cents), self-addressed envelope.


– King Features


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