While there’s still a place on his menu for cream sauces, Executive Chef Gary Klinefelter is increasingly embellishing his dishes with reductions made from his own low-sodium and low-fat fish, veal and vegetable stocks thickened through long, slow cooking, rather than with cornstarch or a roux. Vegetable purées also make tasty and satisfying (not to mention vitamin- and mineral-packed) sauces for meat, fish and pasta dishes, he explains, without using cream or butter.
For recipes that require a thickener such as all-purpose flour or cornstarch, Balducci substitutes rice flour, which, he says, “works just as well as traditional starches, creates a lighter sauce or soup, and is gluten-free—an important consideration for diners with dietary restrictions due to celiac disease.”
Fresh fennel, with its slightly sweet, anise-like flavor, is the secret ingredient in some of Choquette’s most-ordered low-fat soups. He says he often combines fennel and basil for a tasty and extra-aromatic one-two punch.
Although cream soups can be diet-killers, Balducci makes them healthier by substituting a mixture of 80 percent water and 20 percent skim milk for the cream that’s called for in the recipe. He adds packaged cream soup base to thicken to the desired consistency. “The result is a rich-textured cream soup with half the fat content of traditional cream-based recipes,” he explains.