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Low-sodium substitute for onion soup mix

Like the title says. :) I've been getting a craving to make my grandmother's old-school recipe for braised brisket, but I'm worried about the salt content. I'm on doctor's orders to limit my sodium intake, so I sometimes need to get creative about recipe substitutions. My grandmother's recipe calls for nothing more than brown sugar, ketchup, and a lot of onion soup mix (from a package) to make the gravy. I suspect that there is more sodium in commercial soup mix packets than I want in my food.

Has anyone hazarded their own attempt at making this stuff, or (better yet) trying to season a brisket so that it has the same flavors, but less salt?

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  1. A quick google search found this one.... as I look at it, it looks pretty good. You could reduce the amount of salt [you will need some] and change the ratios of spices/herbs to your taste.

    http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/homemad...

    1 Reply
    1. re: smtucker

      So, I took one for the team and made this onion soup mix. YUCK! The tumeric is all wrong; and it lacks that underlying "beefy" flavor. Don't waste your ingredients on this recipe.

    2. the one smtucker posted does look good. if you want a little saltiness in there you can use one of the potassium chloride salt substitutes, but only if you've cleared it with your doctor because too much potassium can be a bad thing as well.

      there's also the option of adding some low- or no-sodium beef base or bouillon, though i personally steer clear of that stuff because it's mostly MSG.

      1. How about skipping the ketchup as well, and just going with carmelized onions with a little concentrated tomato paste, along with brown sugar and salt and pepper. You could use a few herbs as well, such and bay and thyme. If you want a little more umami, you oculd add some sauteed mushrooms and/or lite soy sauce.

        3 Replies
        1. re: sandylc

          I was thinking along these lines as well. I've done this recipe,
          Braised Beef and Onions (I set the oven at 300-325 degrees rather than the 400 listed in the recipe)
          http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
          and then this one which calls for a lot of onions and then more ingredients including wine,
          http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
          My significant other grew up with the onion soup mix kind of roasts, and he now prefers ones more like I've listed above which use a lot of real onions.

          1. re: souvenir

            And I rarely say no to wine as a gravy constituent. :)

          2. re: sandylc

            You know, I had half a mind to work out something else for the ketchup too, but the soup mix seemed the trickier thing to figure out. Soy sauce, though, seems the wrong direction for me: even the light stuff has a huge concentration of salt. I like the idea of caramelized onions, with tomato paste and brown sugar to round it out.

          3. Better Than Bouillon reduced sodium beef base, plus dehydrated minced onion.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Although it contains a little less than half the concentration of sodium that salt does, MSG is still kind of a no-go if you are really supposed to be watching your sodium intake. Its great stuff, but it does have a fair amount of sodium in it.

                1. re: twyst

                  The sodium content (in mass percent) of MSG is roughly 3 times lower (12%) than in sodium chloride (39%)

              2. This one is for soy sauce substitute
                http://www.lowsodiumcooking.com/free/...
                This one is where you can order low or no salt products even no salt pickles and they are good
                there is also no sodium beef and chicken bouillon "Herb Ox"
                http://healthyheartmarket.com/

                1 Reply
                1. re: becks1

                  This is a copycat recipe of Lipton onion soup mix
                  http://www.recipesecrets.net/blog/rec...
                  use the Herb Ox beef bouillon mentioned in previous post.

                2. I would try a reduced onion stock made with caramalized onions.