Ham, Sweet Potato, & White Bean Soup

Last spring, right after Easter, our friends invited us over for a delicious ham-bone based soup. It had been thrown together with ingredients they had around the kitchen and was so tasty. I decided I wanted some of that soup today, so I searched around the internet for a recipe. None of them were quite right. I made this instead; it was really easy and tasted great. We didn’t have a ham bone, but I plan on trying a version of this soup using a stock made from the ham bone next time we have a holiday ham.

This made a huge amount of soup. The four of us had dinner and then we saved some for leftovers this week and froze the rest in order to pull it out on a busy night this winter. Half this recipe if you don’t want this many leftovers.

¹ I used dried beans, you could use an equivalent of canned white beans, drained and rinsed. This was a huge pot of soup, so I would guess three cans. Plus or minus one.
² The store was out of fresh thyme so I used dried.


  • 1 – 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ham, roughly chopped into bite size pieces
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (~¼” to ½” cubes)
  • 1 pound dried great northern beans (soaked per package directions)
  • 8 cups veggie broth
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pepper to taste


Soak beans per package directions. If you think of it in time do an overnight soak. I did the quick soak method, which took about an hour.

I used a large dutch oven. This recipe makes a lot of soup, so be sure to have a big pot. Add EVOO to pot over medium-high heat. Cook onion, carrots, and garlic for a few minutes. Add ham, and cook for 5 or 10 minutes, until ham begins to brown and onions and carrots are soft.

Add veggie broth and then all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for a few hours. Remove bay leaf. Serve with fresh bread.


Cheddar Cheese Soup

A few years ago, our family took our first trip to Walt Disney World. As a kid, I wasn’t too excited about EPCOT and the World Showcase. As an adult, I loved it. Especially since we travelled during the Food & Wine Festival. We also participated in the Disney Dining Plan, and boy did we eat. And eat. And eat.

For readers that don’t know much about me, I love Disney. And I love cheese. So it should come as no surprise that one of my favorite dishes in all of Disney World was the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup served at Le Cellier Steakhouse. So delicious. And then a year after our visit, Disney published this wonderful recipe as part of their Food & Wine Festival promotions. Here it is for you in all it’s delicious, cheesy glory. Enjoy.

One note: as regular readers know, we prefer veggie broth to chicken broth in our cooking. That’s the only change I make to this soup.


  • ½ pound of bacon, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 3 celery ribs, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock [we use veggie broth]
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 pound sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
  • Course salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup pale ale, room temperature
  • Chopped scallions or chives, for garnish


  1. Cook bacon in a 4- or 5-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add onion, celery, and butter. Sauté until the onion softens, about 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add flour and stir constantly for about 4 minutes.
  4. Whisk in chicken stock and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add milk and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes. (Do not boil after adding milk,)
  6. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese, Tabasco, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper until cheese is melted and soup is smooth. Stir in ale. If soup is too think, thin to desired consistency with warm milk.
  7. Serve hot, garnished with scallion or chives.

Makes about 6 cups.

30 March 2015
We just made this again tonight. Two notes to the recipe:

Note 1: In step 4, I found that the 3 cups of broth wasn’t quite enough; the mixture is very thick. I slowly added a little extra broth several times while it was simmering, I probably ended up at about 3 1/2 cups.

Note 2: We are not Pale Ale drinkers. We use Kona Brewing Company’s Longboard Lager when we make this soup.

Corn Chowder

Fall is here and our family loves to make (and eat!) soups and stews. This corn chowder is a great meal that everyone enjoys. A little prep work, and then it spends all day cooking and smelling delicious. I make a big batch and then freeze the leftovers, giving us a quick and yummy meal on a busy night.

Two notes on this one.

  1. I love to cook with yukon gold potatoes, but if you prefer another kind, feel free to substitute.
  2. We like the taste of veggie broth in recipes at our house. If you like chicken broth better, it will work fine in the chowder.


  • 10 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 can cream corn
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 to 1 package frozen white sweet corn
  • 3 to 4 cups veggie broth
  • 1 lb diced ham
  • 1 diced onion
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 cups ½ & ½
  • Salt & pepper to taste


Add potatoes, corn, veggie broth, ham, and onions to the slow cooker, stir to combine. Make sure broth covers the ingredients; add more broth or water if needed. Cook on low for 7 – 8 hours. Using a potato masher, mash the chowder to your desired thickness. Add the butter and ½ & ½, cook on high for 30 minutes. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Ms. Kay’s Southern Beef & Vegetable Soup

Here’s another recipe given to me by my second mother-in-law, Ms. Kay. She made this for us one night and it is a nice soup to have on a cold winter night. Her family crumbles the corn bread right into their bowl of soup to eat it. This makes a lot of soup, I freeze some of the leftovers for another night.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 – 6 potatoes – cut into small chunks (I use Yukon Gold)
  • 4 – 6 carrots – roughly sliced
  • 1 package frozen butter beans (Lima beans if you’re out of the south)
  • 1 package frozen okra (Kay uses canned okra, we don’t have that here)
  • 1 package frozen corn
  • 2 – 28oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup sugar (optional – Kay uses this to sweeten the tomatoes, I skip it)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2 – 3 cups water


I use a large dutch oven to make this. On the stove, brown the ground beef until cooked through. Drain any excess fat. Add the vegetables, tomatoes, sugar (if using) and seasonings to the beef. Last add the water – cover the vegetables and get the soup to the consistency you desire. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook for about 2 hours.

Serve with corn bread.

Chicken & Rice Soup

Last spring we had a bunch of friends over for soups and stews, and I wanted at least one option to be something kid-friendly. I searched around on the internet for recipes, combined some ideas, made a few changes, and here was our result. I know a lot of people enjoy a nice chicken noodle soup; I’ve always preferred the chicken and rice variety. This is easy to make and doesn’t take all day to cook.


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 – 5 carrots, bias cut about ½” thick
  • 4 – 5 celery heart ribs, bias cut about ½” thick
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs (or substitute with dry thyme)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth (you could use chicken broth, we prefer veggie)
  • 1 to 1½ cups of white rice – use more or less depending on your preference. I use about 1¼ cups of rice.
  • 2 to 3 cups of water (double your selected rice amount)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Cooked shredded chicken – amount depends on your taste, see instructions below.

Shredded Chicken

You’ll want between ¾ pound to 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, depending on how much chicken you want in the soup. Boil some water and then add the chicken breasts to the boiling water. Continue to boil until chicken is cooked all the way through and no pink remains. I cooked the chicken about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken (make sure there is no pink!) and then let it cool. Shred the chicken using two forks.

To Make the Soup

Have a nice big pot (I use my dutch oven). Put your pot over medium heat and then add the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme, and bay leaf. Cook for 6 – 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender. Add the veggie broth and water, and bring to a boil. Add in the rice and chicken. Cover and reduce heat to a lower setting to allow the soup to simmer. Cook until the rice is done, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste, remove the bay leaf, and enjoy!

Chicken Soup with Pasta

Magazine Purge #6! This one will be great in the fall, and one my boys will love on a cool evening. Rachael Ray, April 2013 (This is one of Rachael’s 30 minute meals, which means it will take me about an hour.)

Note from recipe: Freeze the rinds from parmigiano-reggiano and pecorino-romano – then toss them into soups and stews to add a delicious boost of salty, nutty, flavor.


  • Salt & Pepper
  • ½ pound mezze penne rigate or other small-cut pasta
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), plus more for drizzling
  • 6 cups chicken stock [I’ll probably use veggie broth]
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless, chicken breast.
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 5 – 6 carrots, peeled and sliced crosswise ¼ inch thick
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 – 3 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 rind parmigiano-reggiano (optional), plus grated parmigiano-reggiano, for topping
  • 1 cup frozen peas [I don’t like peas, I’ll probably sub frozen corn]
  • ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 small lemon, zested

Bring large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain; drizzle with EVOO to keep from sticking.

  1. While the pasta is cooking, in a small skillet, pour about 2 cups of chicken stock over the chicken to cover it. Add the wine and bay leaf; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Make sure the chicken does not stick to the pan by wiggling it with tongs. Lower the heat to low and gently poach until fully cooked, about 12 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons EVOO over medium-high heat. Stir in the carrots, onion, garlic, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Partially cover and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining stock and the cheese rind, if using; bring to a simmer.
  3. Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid; cut into bite-size cubes and add to the soup. Strain in the poaching liquid. Stir in the peas and parsley; discard the bay leaf.
  4. Spoon the pasta into bowls. Ladle in the hot soup and top with the lemon zest and grated cheese.

Hearty Potato Soup

Image from Southern Living November 2008 issue.

I love a great bowl of soup on a cold day. This potato soup fits the bill. This was clipped from the November 1998 issue of Southern Living, recipe courtesy of Shirley Wolverton from Carthage, Mississippi.

Several notes on this one:

  1. Southern Living suggests making your own bread bowls, but I have never made these. We usually just buy bread bowls at the store, or serve the soup in a bowl with crusty bread on the side.
  2. It calls for chicken broth, we use vegetable broth to make this a vegetarian dish.
  3. Another fun note is that this recipe calls for “fat-free half-and-half.” I’m not even sure what that is. We use the real stuff when we make this recipe, as my Grandma Beckman would have wanted.

Here’s the original recipe, and my slight modifications


  • 6 potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes (2½ pounds) [We probably do 3 – 3½ pounds]
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced [We use 4 carrots]
  • 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced [We use 4 celery ribs]
  • 2 (14½-oz) cans low-sodium fat-free chicken broth [We use vegetable broth; a 32 oz container plus 1 more cup, due to the extra potatoes and veggies]
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups fat-free half-and-half [What?! We use the real stuff here.]
  • Italian Bread Bowls (see recipe) [OR buy at the store OR serve bread on side]
  • Garnish: fresh celery leaves [yeah…I skip this one too.]


Combine first 8 ingredients in a 4½-quart slow cooker. Cook covered, on HIGH for 3 hours, or until vegetables are tender.

Stir together flour and half-and-half; stir into soup. Cover and cook 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve in bread bowls, and garnish, if desired.