One of my favourite things to do on Halloween is to have friends and kiddos drop by for something hot and savoury. I thought how much fun this would be after football games, or really anytime you’d like to casually entertain and have plenty of time to visit with pals.
I have this triple crockpot/warmer that is perfect for such a theme (I picked it up on Amazon for less than $50). What I do is make a different, hot and satisfying soup or stew for each well. Then, I set out all the “fixins” so guests can make a bowl that suits them exactly. Think of it as a soup bar.
I love to offer creamy potato, tomato bisque and chicken chowder. Serve shredded cheddar, Parmesan and jalapeño jack cheeses. Then, fresh herbs: scallions, basil and cilantro. Finally, the true embellishments: crumbled bacon, garlic croutons, toasted pepitas and corn relish, sour cream, Tabasco, hot corn bread and dinner rolls or even a stack of grilled cheese sandwiches. So much fun to see everyone loading up their mugs/bowls and best of all, it’s self- serve, so you can enjoy the gathering, too.
Here are two of my favourite soups for cold weather:
Creamy Potato Soup
3# Yukon gold potatoes, chopped into 1” pieces 1/2# bacon, diced
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
5 cups chicken stock or broth
1 large onion (yellow or white), chopped 1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 cup sour cream
A few dashes of Tabasco, to taste
1. Fry bacon over medium heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven, removing to a plate lined with paper towels when browned (reserve the bacon to use as a garnish)
2. Add the chopped onion and butter and continue cooking over medium for about 3 minutes.
3. Add garlic and stir for about a minute, then whisk in flour.
4. Constantly whisk for another minute to combine.
5. Add remaining ingredients (except potatoes) and continue to whisk while bringing the
mixture to a boil.
6. As soon as it reaches a slow boil, reduce heat to medium and add potatoes.
7. Cook for about 10 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender.
8. At this point, you can remove (carefully) about half the soup to a blender and process until
smooth. I personally prefer to use my immersion blender and give the whole thing a few
pulses right in the pot. Let your personal preferences for chunkiness be your guide.
9. Let the soup simmer a few more minutes (10ish) before serving.
Pro Tip: When re-heating, be sure to stir constantly so the milky soup doesn’t scorch your pan.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 medium-sized carrots, diced
1 stalk of celery, lard, with leafy bits if you have them 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
1 large can of whole tomatoes in juice (28 oz) 1 cup stock (I use chicken or veggie)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano 1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper, as needed
1. Heat butter and oil in a soup pot or dutch oven.
2. Add onion, carrot and celery and sauté for 3 minutes.
3. Add garlic and sauté another minute, stirring so garlic doesn’t burn.
4. Add tomatoes, stock and spices.
5. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
6. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes
7. Puree soup in a blender (again, I use an immersion blender for this step and leave a few
chunks of tomato for texture.)
8. Add the heavy cream to the soup and serve.
Pro Tip: This is excellent with croutons and Parmesan, but also really good served in a toasted bread boule.
Elizabeth Morse cooks professionally, is an Advanced Master Gardener and lover of all things local.