January 26, 2020
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To a Healthy New Year

Published Jan 03, 2019 • Last Updated 12:02 pm, January 02, 2019

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Originally, I was going to give you my rendition of Weight Watchers Soup, since I will be making it the first week of January 2019. Then I looked at my files and saw that I wrote about it the same week of 2018. Not surprising, since I do love that soup and, if you are a Weight Watchers diet person, you know the soup has virtually no points. Of course I add some oil to sauté the vegetables and add low-sodium broth and a little light coconut milk and red curry paste for flavor, but it is still a really healthy and delicious soup. But you know that.

I was not Weight Watchers awful over the holidays. Sure there were holidays and cookies and cake and candy, but I was fairly careful. I stopped buying the challah at BJs because someone gave me maple syrup and that bread would beg to become French toast. I made cookies and about 15 pumpkin breads with chocolate chips, but gave the loaves away as quick as I could. I can’t say I was careful when it came to the savory treats; at the Graners’ party for the Board of Ed members, I ate more of the chicken piccata and salad than the incredible pasta. I had only a small slice of the cheesecake and none of the cake from Dorie Greenspan’s new book. (Because I was making it for the first time, I ate a thimbleful since I was taking it to the party.) But when I went to Stop & Shop and saw a two-for-one ad for Entenmann and bought two, I knew I was in trouble. In five days, I ate six of the donuts and two of the cinnamon buns. I looked on the back of the latter’s box and saw the calorie count. I gave the rest to my neighbor.

Today I am giving you a soup that is healthy and delicious and low in calories. It does call for Gruyère and bread, but if you use less Gruyère and bread, or none at all, we are, as Queen says, “the champions.”

Lee White of Old Lyme has been a food editor and restaurant reviewer for more than 25 years. You can email her at

French Onion Soup

Adapted Glorious French Food by James Peterson (Wiley, New York, 2002)

Yield: 6 servings as an entrée


5 to 6 pounds onions

4 tablespoons butter

¼ cup cream sherry or sweet Marsala (optional)

10 cups beef, turkey, or chicken broth (I used chicken;

next time I might add some water instead of all broth)

1 small bouquet garni*

salt and pepper to taste

4 cups good croutons**

Gruyère cheese, grated, about 5 cups


Peel and slice the onions as thin as you can (I use the slicing disk on my Cuisinart). In a very large soup pot (I use my biggest Le Creuset pot), melt the butter on medium-low heat and add all the onions. Every few minutes stir the onions; they will cook down in about around 30 minutes. When most of the liquid has evaporated (this should take 15 minutes or more), add the sherry and allow to evaporate, stirring with a wooden spoon to keep the caramelized onions from burning.

When liquid has evaporated, pour in 1 cup of broth into the onions and bring to a boil. Stir the onions, again scraping off any caramelized juices that cling to the bottom and side of the pot. When the broth completely evaporates and again forms a brown glaze on the bottom of the pot, add the rest of the broth and the bouquet garni.

Gently simmer the soup for 10 minutes. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pot so that the caramelized juices dissolve in the soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the bouquet garni.

About 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, turn oven to 400 degrees. Place ovenproof bowls onto a baking sheet and ladle the hot soup into the bowls. Place half the cheese onto the soup, divide croutons on top of the cheese, and then cover with the rest of the cheese. Put the sheet into the oven and bake until cheese bubbles and turns light brown, about 10 minutes or so. Serve immediately.

*Bouquet garni is a tied cheesecloth pouch including fresh thyme, parsley, and a bay leaf.

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