Monday, June 18, 2012

T.G.I. Friday's Broccoli Cheese Soup... Lightened Up

I received the book called “Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2: More Amazing Clones of Famous Dishes from America’s Favorite Restaurant Chains” awhile back from a friend who knows I like to cook. I do like to cook and I love friends like that!  In the book, I have dozens of little Post-It flags marking recipes I’d like to try. I think I used pink flags for recipes I found appealing and blue flags for the recipes marked by my son, but I’ve not tried many of the recipes… yet. This past weekend I looked through the book with a more critical eye… wondering which recipes could be made more healthy to fit into my current “eat healthy and exercise more mode”.  Today I whipped up a batch of Broccoli Cheese Soup which is supposed to be a clone of the Broccoli Cheese Soup at the chain restaurant T.G.I. Fridays.  I do recall going to a T.G.I. Fridays over 25 years ago and I am pretty sure I did NOT have Broccoli Cheese Soup so I cannot say if this is a match or not. Whatever the case may be, this soup was super simple and I made it lower fat and lower calorie than the recipe in the book. The recipe from my book can also be found here on a website called “Todd Wilbur’s Top Secret Recipes”. Here is my version… but before I share that… I wanted to give you the calorie stats. I am not an expert but I did look up each ingredient on line. My version comes in at about 150 calories per serving. The original recipe (according to the website) is 346 calories per serving. How do you like them apples!? I suppose this is not the healthiest soup given that it contains fat free half-and-half and cheese slices, but I definitely reduced the calorie and fat content so I am calling it a winner!

Lightened Up Broccoli Cheese Soup (similar to TGI Fridays Restaurant)
Original Version (click HERE)
• 4 cups chicken broth (40 calories)
• 1 cup water (0 calories) – for a thicker soup, omit the water
• 1 cup Land O Lakes FAT FREE half-n-half (143 calories)
• 4 slices Kraft Singles Sharp Cheddar made with 2% milk (180 calories)
• ½ cup all-purpose flour (228 calories)
• ½ teaspoon dried minced onion (very few calories)
• ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
• 4 cups broccoli florets (bite-sized pieces); about 1 ½ crowns [I think more broccoli (2 crowns) would be even better ] (4 cups broccoli florets is 100 calories)
• Garnish: fresh parsley and ½ cup grated cheddar cheese (1/2 cup grated cheese is 225 calories)

Combine chicken broth, water, half-and-half, cheese, flour, onion, and pepper in a large sauce pan. Whisk to combine and to break up any lumps of flour, then turn heat to medium/high.

Bring soup to a boil, stirring frequently, then reduce to low heat.

Add broccoli to soup and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until broccoli is tender but not soft.

Makes 6 servings. If desired, garnish each bowl with a tablespoon of shredded cheddar cheese and a pinch of fresh parsley and more black pepper if desired. Of course adding more cheese will increase the calorie count quickly so tread lightly if you are watching it like me.

I packaged up my soup into 6 plastic containers, topping each serving with a scant tablespoon of shredded cheese and a more freshly ground black pepper. I had the soup for dinner at work and I really liked it. I was inclined to add a bit of salt but refrained as salt is not the best for a body. I imagine this soup’s saltiness could vary from batch to batch depending upon the type of broth used. Also, the soup was not very thick. This could be easily adapted by omitting the 1 cup water which I will do next time.  I also realized I covered the soup with lid as I simmered it.  The original recipe did not specify to cover the pot. Perhaps it would have thickened a bit more if I would have left the lid off. 

Today’s high temperature in our town? 97 degrees Fahrenheit.

I had soup for both lunch and dinner today. Any weather is soup weather for me apparently!

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