Home Cooking: Three delightful autumn soups

I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work on Tuesday. It’s always tempting to grab a frozen pizza for dinner when I’m tired and cooking is the last thing I want to do when I get home.

But I do love soup. I remembered I had a bunch of fresh spinach and two large sweet potatoes, so I grabbed a pound of ground chorizo sausage and headed home.

Soup is welcome anytime of the year using the farm fresh veggies of spring and summer, but it’s especially comforting during the cooler autumn and winter months. I always think of the children’s story, Stone Soup, as I hunt through my kitchen’s pantry and vegetable drawer to make the most of what I already have.

The soup I make will feed me for dinner and go to work with me the next day, providing my lunch. I love soup.

Chorizo sweet potato and spinach soup
Photo by Suzanne Anderson / Home Cooking

Chorizo sweet potato and spinach soup

This is a fun spin on the well-known sausage, white bean and kale soup. The sweetness of the sweet potatoes is the perfect counterpoint to spicy chorizo sausage.

1 pound ground chorizo sausage
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into half-inch chunks
1 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed and cut in half
1 14-ounce can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
5 green onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart chicken stock
3 thyme sprigs
1/2 cup half-and-half

In the bottom of a medium Dutch oven, cook the chorizo sausage, breaking it up into small chunks. Remove the chorizo to a plate and drain all but one spoonful of the grease.

Add the sweet potatoes, onions and garlic and stir for two minutes allowing the vegetables to be coated. Add the chicken stock and 2 cups of water, cover and allow the sweet potatoes to cook for 20 minutes until they are fork tender. 

Remove 1 cup of liquid from the stockpot and slowly add the half-and-half into the cup of hot liquid, stirring constantly. Then pour the mixture back into the pot. Adding the half-and-half is optional. The soup will be delicious either way, so don’t let this stop you from making it.

Finally, removed the thyme sprigs, stir in the canned tomatoes, the chorizo sausage and the spinach. Stir until the soup is heated through and the spinach is just wilted. Serve immediately with a dollop of sour cream or a sprinkling of your favorite cheese.

Split pea and ham soup
Photo by Suzanne Anderson / Home Cooking

Split pea and ham soup

This soup couldn’t be easier. The secret is the use of a ham hock, which adds a smoky goodness to what otherwise might be bland, mushy peas.

1 pound dried split peas
5 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 cups carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 smoked ham hock
2 bay leaves
3-4 thyme sprigs
1 1/2 cups cooked ham, diced

Combine all ingredients except the diced ham in a Dutch oven and allow to cook for 30 minutes or until the peas are soft.

Remove the thyme and bay leaves. Remove the ham hock, which was used to flavor the broth, and replace it with the cooked ham. Allow the ham to warm within the soup.

Shrimp and corn chowder
Photo by Suzanne Anderson / Home Cooking

Shrimp and corn chowder

Corn chowder is elevated by the addition of shrimp in this soup. When I posted the picture on Facebook, the overwhelming reply was that crisp bacon was needed as a garnish!

1 onion, diced
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 ears of corn
8 baby red potatoes, cut into eight pieces each
2 cups half-and-half or milk
1-2 teaspoons Southwest seasoning
2 cups chicken stock
1 pound frozen shrimp
1 4-ounce can diced green chilies
3 slices bacon, crisped and copped

I encourage you to use fresh corn on the cob because it’s so darn fun to get the corn off the cob! After removing the outer husk and silk, place the corn stem in the center of a Bundt pan. Holding it upright with one hand, carefully run a knife down each side, removing the corn kernels and allowing them to fall into the pan.

In a Dutch oven, add the onion and a tablespoon of butter. Cook until the onion is softened. Then add the rest of the butter and the flour. Allow the flour to cook until golden, stirring often so that it doesn’t burn.

Add the rest of the ingredients except the shrimp, green chiles and bacon. Allow the potatoes to cook for 20 minutes in the stock and half-and-half until fork tender.

Add the shrimp and green chilies and cook until the shrimp is cooked through. Garnish with crisp bacon!

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Home Cooking” publishes biweekly on Thursdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson taught herself to cook after college when she discovered dinner parties were a cure for loneliness. Her latest cookbook is “A Year in the Mountains Cookbook.” She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com.

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