Soups, Stews, Chilis and Chowders: Part One, The Puréed.

I find that when I’m very busy, what comes to mind most readily to cook and have on hand for quick weeknight dinners is a good bowl of soup or a stew, some chili or a chowder. Not only are these bowls truly the epitome of comfort food year round, but they’re the meal that keeps on giving by virtue of leftovers. And since most soups and their kind tend to taste even better the day after you make them, they’re a great dish to prepare ahead for company or freeze portions for later use.

Though I haven’t had time to develop any new soups, stews, chilis or chowders in these last few months, I have made several of my previously posted favorites quite recently and I’m looking forward to revisiting even more of them. All are tried and true recipes that I basically know by heart, and I think you’ll find with this and the next two posts that there’s something here for everyone, starting with puréed soups.

My complete line up features puréed, chunky and hearty varieties of in the bowl goodness. A few of these are cooled or creamed by way of dairy or coconut milk, some feature a clear broth and are mild, while others are highly spiced or curried. Several are vegetarian, some are vegan and others are strictly for the carnivores.

I hope you’ll try some of the recipes featured throughout this 3-part recap series and that one or more will be added to your list of favorites, too. Click on the link in the text below each photo to find the recipe or post for the following puréed soups. Many of these are best served hot, but several are equally good cold, where noted. Pair any one with a simple green salad and you’ll have a delightful meal.

soup3Curry, coconut milk, apple and Asian spices bring some delightful flavor to butternut squash in this elegant and Easy Curried Butternut Squash Soup.

Soup1This light, delicate and interestingly flavored soup happens to be vegan and is perfect as is, but Tomato, Orange and Tarragon Soup can be embellished with a touch of dairy or made with chicken stock instead of vegetable stock, if you so desire.

There's just something about a bowl of soup and some good bread that says

There’s just something about a bowl of soup and some good bread that says “come hither” to me.

Easy Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Soup just might be my most favorite vegetable soup. The roasting of the veggies caramelizes and intensifies the flavors…making this heavenly soup become so much more than its individual parts. Definitely on my “next to make again” list.

soup4Creamy Avocado Cucumber Soup is super easy to make and just the ticket for a hot summer day. It’s creamy and cooling, but has a slight kick to it as well. Just throw everything into a blender, give it a good whirr and it’s ready to slurp.

soup3BThe flavors of my favorite gratin were the inspiration for this Potato, Leek and Fennel Soup. I made this again last week and we never get tired of it…whether served hot with a parmesan crouton or served cold right out of a mug. Great stuff!

soup2Until I tried this recipe, I never would have thought I’d enjoy the pairing of sweet potatoes, red bell pepper and peanut butter so much. This slightly adapted version of Ellie Krieger’s African-inspired Spicy Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup is a real winner.

The beautiful green color of this soup just makes me happy.

The beautiful green color of this soup just makes me happy.

Lean, Mean and Green Broccoli Spinach Soup is exactly what it looks like…very healthy. But it’s also very delicious and in fact, this one is at the top of my list to make again soon.

A Lighter Vichyssoise or Creamed Leek and Potato Soup

soupcu1Want another quick, simple, delicious and lighter soup recipe? This is a “lightened up” fix for an easy favorite…vichyssoise, or leek and potato soup. My lighter version is pureed and creamed, much like the original, but with a simple sub of lightened sour cream instead of copious amounts of heavy cream, you can definitely cut back on the calories and fat without sacrificing the flavor.

I think you’ll find that the sour cream adds a slight tang that naturally complements the leeks and the potato. This version is a little thicker, but is just as velvety as the original. Depending on how starchy your potatoes are you may wish to thin the soup with a bit more broth or water after you puree it. You could even use Greek yogurt as a substitute for the sour cream, but I happen to like the body and smoother consistency that the sour cream provides.

Like the traditional vichyssoise, this soup comes together incredibly quickly and is good hot or cold, which means you can eat it all year long…although this winter we’re leaning towards hot! It’s great to make on a busy weeknight. And it keeps well in the fridge for up to three days. All-in-all it makes for a warming (or chilled) and filling bowl of satisfying soup. We like ours with a bit of cheese toast alongside, which one can righteously enjoy when one has eliminated heavy whipping cream from the ingredients!

If you’ve never made vichyssoise because the name sounded “difficult,” you should really give it a try. What could be easier than throwing these few raw ingredients into a pot, cooking it for 40 minutes, pureeing it with a stick blender and stirring in some sour cream? You won’t be sorry.

Don’t need to worry about fat and calories? Then you can’t beat the original version of Julia Child’s vichyssoise here.

Lighter Vichyssoise or Creamed Leek and Potato Soup
Serves 6

4 cups sliced leeks, cleaned well, white and light green parts only (about 3-4 leeks)
1 3/4 lbs. raw yukon gold potatoes, cleaned, peeled and sliced
6 cups unsalted chicken broth
4 oz. water, plus a bit more for thinning, if needed
1/2 cup light sour cream, not fat free
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives (for garnish)
additional salt and pepper to taste

Place the leeks and potatoes in a large stock pot, add the broth, 1 teaspoon of salt and the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook partially covered until the vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and puree with a stick blender until very smooth. Return the soup in the pot to low heat. Stir in the sour cream, black pepper and add any additional salt, to taste and heat through. If the soup is too thick for you, thin it with a bit more broth or water. Serve the soup hot or cold with fresh snipped chives sprinkled on top as a tasty garnish.

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