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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%)