Slimming French Recipes

Enjoy the richness of French cuisine without worrying about your waistline with these recipes from chef Michel Guérard’s new cookbook

VANILLA-INFUSED PUMPKIN SOUP

Calories per person: 130

Cooking and preparation: 45 mins

SERVES: 6-7

• 1 celery stick (stalk), weighing about 20g (¾oz)

• 150g (5½oz) onion, finely chopped

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• 2 cloves

• 5 black peppercorns

• 1 tsp olive oil

• 500ml (2¹/₈ US cups) chicken stock, either home-made or from a cube

• ¼ vanilla pod (bean) split

• 850g (1¾lb) pumpkin (squash), such as acorn or butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks

• 1 litre (4¼ US cups/1 quart) semi-skimmed (2%) milk

• Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

• Salt and pepper of your choice

For the cream

• 2tbsp fromage blanc or Greek yogurt (0% fat or low-fat)

• 3tbsp semi-skimmed (2%) milk

To garnish (optional)

• few sprigs of coriander

• vanilla pods (beans)

1. To make the soup, remove and discard any tough fibres from the celery using a vegetable peeler. Finely chop the celery and set it aside briefly with the finely chopped onion.

2. Make a spice bag by putting the cloves and black peppercorns in a small piece of muslin and tying it with kitchen string; set aside.

3. Set a large saucepan over a low to medium heat, add the oil and, when this is warm, add the celery and onion. Sweat these ingredients, uncovered, for about three minutes or until soft without colouring. Add the chicken stock and the spice bag. Bring to a low boil, cover and simmer for five minutes, then remove from the heat and set aside.

4. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and set them aside for the cream. Put the emptied vanilla pod in the saucepan along with the pumpkin, onion and celery. Add the milk, nutmeg, and salt to taste. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 30 minutes, or until you can insert a knife in the pumpkin without resistance.

5. While the pumpkin simmers, prepare the accompanying cream: mix together with a wooden spoon the fromage blanc (or Greek yogurt), the milk and the reserved vanilla seeds, until well blended. Season to taste and set aside in the refrigerator.

6. When the soup is ready, remove it from the heat. When it is cool enough to handle, discard the spice bag and the vanilla pod. Using a food processor or blender, purée the soup in small batches. For an extra-smooth consistency, pass the soup through a very fine sieve, preferably a chinois. Taste, and adjust the seasoning. Return the soup to a saucepan and heat through before serving.

7. Have ready four warm soup bowls or cups, ideally on under-plates. Ladle the warm soup into the bowls and spoon the accompanying cream into the centre of each.

8. If you like, garnish each under-plate with a few sprigs of coriander and a couple of vanilla pods. Serve immediately.

RASPBERRY PROFITEROLES

Calories per person: 160–175 depending on sweetener

Cooking and preparation: 30 minutes plus 1 hour resting

• 500g (1lb 2oz) fresh raspberries

• 3tbsp water

• Pinch plus 1 heaped tsp of fructose or the sweetener of your choice

• 50ml (¼ US cup or 6 tbsp) light whipping cream (30–35 per cent fat)

• 1½ sheets of leaf gelatine (soaked) or 1 tsp powdered gelatine

• 2 egg whites

• 4 large choux pastries

To decorate

• 4 small sprigs of mint

1. To make the raspberry coulis, put 300g (11oz) of the raspberries and the 3tbsp of water in a food processor and blend to a purée. Taste, and adjust the acidity of the fruit by adding a pinch of fructose if required.For a smooth coulis, pass the purée through a fine sieve and discard pips.

2. Pour one-third of the coulis into a mixing bowl and set the remainder aside in the refrigerator, to be used for serving.

3. For the raspberry mousse, beat the cream until it forms soft to medium-firm peaks – if the cream is too stiff, it will be difficult to combine with the coulis. Set aside the whipped cream briefly in a cool place.

4. In a saucepan, heat about a quarter of the raspberry coulis from the mixing bowl. Remove the saucepan from the heat, then dissolve and combine the gelatine of your choice with the warm coulis, whisking well until the gelatine has dissolved. Whisk in the remaining raspberry coulis from the mixing bowl. Stir a little of the whipped cream into the stiffened coulis, then combine this mixture with the rest of the cream, lifting and folding the ingredients until thoroughly blended.

5. To complete the raspberry mousse, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks in a separate mixing bowl. Sprinkle on the heaped teaspoon of fructose and whisk again to firm, but not dry, peaks. Mix about a quarter of the whisked egg whites into the stiffened raspberry cream mixture. Combine this with the remaining whites, repeatedly lifting the whites from the bottom of the bowl and folding them over the top of the mixture until all is well blended.

6. Split the choux pastries in half. Use a teaspoon or piping (pastry) bag to fill the bottom halves with a generous layer of the raspberry mousse. Replace the tops of the filled profiteroles and chill them in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

7. Put a profiterole on each of four serving plates. Coat each one using about half of the chilled raspberry coulis. Use the remaining coulis and the remaining 200g (7oz) of fresh raspberries to decorate the desserts. You can combine these elements if you wish, drizzling the mixture around each profiterole.

7. Add a small sprig of mint to each plate and serve.

Variation

You can also make this recipe with strawberries or blackberries.

Recipes taken from Michel Guérard’s book Eat Well and Stay Slim: The Essential Cuisine Minceur published by Frances Lincoln. Read an interview with Guérard here