If you have a folder full of autumn soup recipes that are heavy on the meat or other fattening ingredients, take a tip from a recipe revamp for Virginia reader Patricia R. Healy. Ms. Healy wanted to lower the fat content of a substantial tortellini soup made with Italian sausage, cheese tortellini, beef broth and vegetables. The original recipe had 19 grams of fat and 1,356 milligrams of sodium per serving.
Reducing fat and calories meant switching to lower-fat turkey sausage. You can buy a national brand of prepared Italian turkey sausage in the fresh meat case of your supermarket. It has a softer texture than the pork version but lends a pleasant flavor and cooks without leaving greasy drippings in the pan.
Reducing fat also means using fewer cheese tortellini. The new recipe calls for 1¬ cups, which is plenty for every bowl of soup to have several tortellini in it. A potato and a can of dark red kidney beans also helped bump up the amount of carbohydrates - particularly the healthful complex carbohydrates - in the recipe.
The most vexing problem with the recipe was the high sodium content. Switching to low-sodium beef bouillon cubes and no-salt-added tomato sauce helped reduce the amount of sodium in each serving by 720 milligrams. The soup is still slightly higher in sodium than is recommended by registered dietitians, but it's better. The new recipe contains 251 calories and 8.5 grams of fat per serving.
LIGHT TORTELLINI SOUP
3/4 pound mild (sweet) Italian turkey sausage (about 4 sausages)
1 cup chopped onion (1 medium onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups water
5 low-sodium beef bouillon cubes
1 cup dry red wine
6 medium Roma tomatoes, peeled and diced (2 cups) or 1 14-ounce can peeled, diced tomatoes with no added salt
1 8-ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce
11/4 cups sliced carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
1 medium baking potato, peeled and cubed (about 2 cups)
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
11/2 cups cubed zucchini (about 1 large zucchini)
1 green pepper, seeds and stem removed, chopped
1 151/2 -ounce can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
11/4 cups frozen cheese tortellini (4.5 ounces)
Remove the casings from the sausage. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or soup kettle, brown the sausage over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the water, bouillon cubes, wine, tomatoes, tomato sauce, carrots, potato, basil and oregano. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat, and cook for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Add zucchini, green pepper, beans and tortellini and simmer for 20 minutes longer.
Nutritional information per serving: Calories, 251; fat, 8.5 grams; 30 percent of calories from fat; protein, 13 grams; carbohydrates, 28 grams; cholesterol, 37 milligrams; sodium, 636 milligrams.
If you have a recipe you would like streamlined to contain less fat and fewer calories, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Charlotte Balcomb Lane at 2411 A Rice Ave., Albuquerque, NM 87104.