Fall Fresh

he mornings are crisp and clear. There is the rustle of leaves underfoot as we walk the dog. All signs point to the presence of autumn. And while we turn to heartier recipes, lightening up on calories is a yearlong goal. With that in mind, I turn once again to the Junior League of Madison’s Mad About Food.

Tomato Basil Bisque is a winning recipe—easy to prepare, full of flavor and just 170 calories per serving. Combine a bowl with a sandwich or salad and dinner is done.

RECIPE: Tomato Basil Bisque

INGREDIENTS3 tablespoons butter3 medium white onions, chopped2 large carrots, chopped2 cloves garlic, minced1 cup water12 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced (or 48 ounces canned, diced tomatoes)2 cups half-and-half (I use fat free-even fewer calories)1 cup fresh basil, choppedSalt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONSIn a large stockpot or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and garlic. Cook 5 minutes. Add 1 cup water, tomatoes, and salt and pepper. Cook uncovered over medium heat for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.Blend in a blender or food processor, in batches if necessary. I use a hand blender. Stir in half-and-half. Sprinkle with fresh basil and blend again until completely pureed. Reheat the soup; do not boil.

Serves 8.

You can order the Mad About Food cookbook by calling the Junior League of Madison office at 268-1414.

Nancy Lynch is a self-taught cook from a family of foodies. She teaches cooking classes at Orange Tree Imports and All Through the House in Stoughton. E-mail your questions, comments or recipe requests to .