Soup: it’s what’s for dinner

We had some people over for Soup Night this weekend and it was a huge success. In my opinion, at least. The idea came from an article in Cooking Light magazine many years ago. The idea is that you make a few pots of soup and people drop in as they can for a bowl or two. Guests are welcome to bring a side dish, bread, a dessert or a beverage to share, but it is not required. It is a nice relaxed way of catching up. We are hoping to do this regularly, or at least annually. [Unfortunately, we can’t invite everyone, so please don’t take it personally if you weren’t included this time around. We really, really want to invite everyone, but it is impossible.]

Anyhow, I’ve been asked to share the recipes and I figured here is as good a place as any. We made three tried-and-true soups: Broccoli Chowder (Eating Well), Sweet Potato-Peanut Soup (Cook’s Illustrated), and All American Chili (Cooking Light). I thought they all turned out well, but the sweet potato and the chili were the big winners.

As many of you know, the Knight is a skilled hunter, and now that he is retired, he has been getting to spend a lot of time in the woods.  I was not initially excited about the idea of eating Bambi, but I got over that.  Among other reasons, venison is one of the healthiest meats you can get. It is essentially free range, grass fed, hormone free, lean meat. I was kind of surprised that no one balked when I told them (before they tried it) that it was venison.  My sister was particularly shocked by how much she liked it. (I substitute venison sausage for the turkey sausage and ground venison for the sirloin. It works great as written, too.)

Without further ado, here are the recipes. (For what it’s worth, I don’t believe in posting recipes on a blog that you haven’t actually tried.  What’s the point?) Enjoy! My comments are in brackets.

Sweet Potato-Peanut Soup
The Quick Recipe (Cook’s Illustrated)
Serves 4-6
Time: 50 minutes


Although the recipe was developed with standard sweet potatoes (called Beauregards), Jewel and Red Garnet sweet potatoes also work well.  Do stick to the orange-fleshed varieties; white-fleshed sweet potatoes, in conjunction with the peanut butter, would blend to an unappetizing color.  Ground coriander seemingly loses its flavor even faster than most ground spices, so give yours a taste prior to making this recipe; you may want to pick up a fresh supply. If you have a spice grinder, grind whole coriander seeds for the best flavor.  Both smooth and crunchy peanut butter work fine here, as the soup is pureed.  You will need 2 (14-ounce) cans chicken [or vegetable] broth for this recipe.  This soup can be prepared in advance (it will hold for 2 days in the refrigerator), but don’t add the cilantro until just before serving.

2 T. unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced fine
1 t. light brown sugar
3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed (about 1 T.)
½ t. ground coriander
1/8-1/4 t. cayenne pepper
3 ½ cups canned low-sodium chicken broth
2 pounds sweet potatoes, (about 3 medium), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and sliced thin
3 T. peanut butter [natural]
Ground black pepper
1 T. minced fresh cilantro leaves 

  1. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Once the foaming subsides, add the onion, 1 t. salt, and brown sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion softens and begins to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, coriander, and cayenne and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds.  Add the broth, sweet potatoes, peanut butter, and 2 cups water.  Cover, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and partially cover the pan.  Cook until the sweet potatoes begin the crumble and are easily pierced with a knife, 25 to 30 minutes.
  2. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth [I use a stick/immersion blender.]  Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper to taste and stir in the cilantro.  Serve.

Broccoli Chowder
Eating Well

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion — chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 large carrot — diced (1/2 cup)
2 stalks celery — diced (1/2 cup)
1 large potato — peeled and diced (1 1/2 cups)
2 cloves garlic — minced
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken  broth (two 14-ounce cans)
1/2 pound broccoli crowns — cut into 1-inch pieces, stems and florets separated
1 cup grated reduced fat cheddar cheese [Cracker Barrel 2% or Cabot 50% are my favorites]
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream [Daisy brand]
1/8 teaspoon salt — or to taste

Heat oil in a dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot and celery; cook, stirring often, until onion and celery soften, 5 to 6 minutes. Add potato and garlic; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in flour, dry mustard and cayenne; cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add broth and broccoli stems, bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in florets; simmer, covered, until broccoli is tender, about 10 minutes more.

Transfer 2 cups of the chowder to a bowl and mash; return to the pan. Stir in cheddar and sour cream; cook over medium heat, stirring, until the cheese is melted and the chowder is heated through. Season with salt.

Makes about 6 servings, 1 cup each.

Per serving: 179 calories; 8g total fat (3g sat, 3g mono); 15 mg cholesterol; 23g carbohydrate; 7g protein; 4g fiber; 351mg sodium

All-American Chili
Cooking Light, JANUARY 2003

6 ounces hot turkey Italian sausage
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper [or red pepper]
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground sirloin
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
1 1/4 cups Merlot or other fruity red wine
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, undrained and coarsely chopped [use a pair of kitchen shears to chop the tomatoes in the can]
2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Remove casings from sausage. Add sausage, onion, and the next 4 ingredients (onion through jalapeño) to pan; cook 8 minutes or until sausage and beef are browned, stirring to crumble.

Add chili powder and the next 7 ingredients (chili powder through bay leaves), and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine, tomatoes, and kidney beans; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Uncover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard the bay leaves. Sprinkle each serving with cheddar cheese.

Note: Like most chilis, this version tastes even better the next day.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups chili and 1 tablespoon cheese)

CALORIES 375(29% from fat); FAT 12g (sat 4.6g,mono 4.1g,poly 1.1g); PROTEIN 28.9g; CHOLESTEROL 59mg; CALCIUM 165mg; SODIUM 969mg; FIBER 8.2g; IRON 5mg; CARBOHYDRATE 33.7g


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. PDiddy
    Dec 06, 2011 @ 20:14:24

    I was going to try and eat all three but I got so full after just two! The sweet potato and chili were both delicious. I can’t remember ever eating venison before so I asked TF to see what she thought. She took a bite of hers and said it was really good and I would like it. I trusted her and she was right. That chili was awesome. 🙂


  2. Caroline
    Dec 06, 2011 @ 23:01:52

    YUM!!! I am going to have to try some of these soups, they sound fantastic!


  3. Alisa
    Dec 07, 2011 @ 00:20:56

    Thanks for sharing! I love those magazines!


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