Butternut and Sweet Potato Soup

My poor mom had some dental work done this week and has been feeling under the weather.  So in an effort to get her back in tip-top shape, or at least eating again, I created this soup for her.  It’s a quick soup, but tastes great:  creamy and comforting, just what you need when you’re not feeling your best.

Butternut and Sweet Potato SoupButternut and Sweet Potato Soup (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 6

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 small onions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups chopped butternut squash
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 32 oz vegetable broth
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme

In a large cast iron pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add onions and sautee for a few minutes until tender.  Add garlic, sweet potatoes and butternut squash, and sautee for an additional 2 minutes, season with salt.  Add vegetable broth and thyme.  Cover and cook for about 20-30 minutes, or until potatoes and squash are fork tender.  Remove thyme stems from the pot.  Turn heat off and using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth.  Serve immediately.

Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup

This is a great soup!  I adapted the recipe to include more veggies and I left out the rice.  I was going to add in some barley, but my pot was too full!  But honestly I don’t think anyone missed it.  Everyone went back for seconds, and I was glad I’d made enough that we’d have some leftovers too.  This is easily scaled up or down depending on your gathering.  But I think leftovers would freeze excellently.  This soup does have a bit of a kick to it, but it was prefect for a fall night.  My 9-year-old-cousin loved it and thought it was just the right amount of spicy…she did keep calling it chili, but as long as she thinks it’s good chili that’s fine by me!

Stuffed Bell Pepper SoupStuffed Bell Pepper Soup (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 12

Adapted from Barefeet in the Kitchen

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 6 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 5 large bell peppers, diced
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 48 oz low sodium beef stock
  • 3 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp poultry seasoning (or Italian seasoning)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

In a large pot, sauté onion in olive oil over medium-high heat until translucent.  Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup meal (A Seat at the Table)Add ground beef and break apart the beef while it cooks.  Add carrots and celery and continue to cook for a few minutes, season with salt and pepper.  Add remaining ingredients, cover and let simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Soup is done when peppers are tender.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, bread, rice or as is and enjoy!

Ham and Green Bean Soup

This is an old family recipe.  My mom’s grandma would make this every spring just as the green beans came up in the garden.  It’s a great, easy recipe that’s total comfort food.  I actually made this using a frozen ham hock that we saved from Easter.  You can also just buy a ham hock at the store, or make this soup whenever you’re making a ham and freeze it for later.  If green beans aren’t in season, you can use frozen green beans, just throw them in in the last few minutes and cook until heated through.

Ham and Green Bean SoupHam and Green Bean Soup (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 10-12

  • 1 large ham hock
  • water to cover the hock (about 10-15 cups)
  • 3 Tbsp salt
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley (optional)
  • 6 medium red potatoes, cubed
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 5 large carrots, diced
  • 4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 5 cups green beans, cut in “1 pieces
  • 2-3 cups diced ham
  • 2 Tbsp dried dill
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sour cream or plain Greek yogurt to garnish

In a large stock pot, combine ham hock, water, salt, bay leaves and dried parsley.  Bring to a boil, then let simmer for about two hours, stirring occasionally.  Remove the ham hock from the pot and let cool.  Pick any remaining ham off the bone and reserve for later.

Add potatoes and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until beginning to get tender.  Add onion, carrots, and celery and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until vegetables are fork-tender.  Add green beans and ham to the pot and cook for about 8 minutes, or until green beans are bright green and tender and the ham is heated through.  Add dill, taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

This soup is a wonderful, fragrant, slightly sweet, slightly spicy and completely delicious.  It’s a perfect warming soup for the last cold days of winter.  This is always a big heat for a group, and except for dicing tons of sweet potatoes, it’s easy to scale up or down, and is definitely a crowd pleaser.

Curried Sweet Potato SoupCurried Sweet Potato Soup

Serves 4 as a side

Adapted from a magazine cut out but I’ve lost the source

  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced in 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
  • 1/2 cup fat-free half and half
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • pumpkin seeds to garnish

In a pot, melt butter and saute shallot and sweet potato until shallot is tender, about 2 minutes.  Sprinkle with curry powder, then stir in flour.  Gradually stir in the milk.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat (don’t let it heat too quickly or the bottom will burn) for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.  About 15 minutes before serving, stir in the half and half and the peas, let soup heat through.  Serve with pumpkin seeds.


If you have a crowd to feed, here’s the portions I used to serve 35:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 6 large shallots, diced
  • 10 huge sweet potatoes, diced
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 gallon fat-free milk
  • 1 quart (fat-free) half and half
  • 1 large bag (about 22 oz) frozen peas

Follow directions above, although everything with obviously take longer with the large pot.

Lentil-Barley Soup

I love lentils.  They’re so delicious and nutritious and versatile.  In this soup, they make a great one-pot meal.  This soup has your protein, whole grains, and vegetables all in one convenient pot.  Serve this with a side salad, your favorite bread, and/or some fruit and you’ve got yourself a feel-good meal.  My only qualm with this soup is that it doesn’t save as well as some.  After about 3 days, the barley and lentils kind of loose their texture and are a little too soft for my liking.  However, if you’re better at estimating serving sizes than I am, that won’t be too much of a problem and you can just scale it to however much you need.

Lentil-Barley SoupLentil Barley Soup

Serves 4

Adapted from Cooking Light (November 2010)

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced and cleaned
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 4 celery ribs, chopped
  • 3 parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup beer (optional, I didn’t use this, but I think it sounds tasty)
  • 1/3 cup uncooked pearl barley
  • 1 Tbsp dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup dried lentils
  • salt, to taste

Heat oil in a Dutch oven (or large pot), over medium-high heat.  Add leeks to the pot and sauté for 2-3 minutes.  Add carrots, celery, and parsnips, and saute for about 5 minutes.  Add vegetable broth and beer (or water if not using beer), barley, dill, pepper, thyme and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes.  Stir in lentils and cook for an additional 30-40 minutes, until lentils and barley are tender.

Mennonite Borscht

This is an old family recipe from my Grandma.  Imagine my confusion when I finally heard that borscht has beets in it!  Beets?!  Doesn’t that make it sweet??  Definitely no beets in Grandma’s borscht.  So after a little research I discovered that Mennonites make a type of borscht that’s beef and cabbage based.  Glad I figured that connection out!

This recipe is great, simple, cost effective and delicious.  I made enough to feed about 50 using 3 lbs hamburger, about 2 lbs carrots, 3 large parsnips, 8 small white skin potatoes, 1 head of cabbage, about 4-5 cans diced tomatoes, and 1 6oz can of tomato paste.  Below is a single recipe, but feel free to adjust quantities as you prefer.

Mennonite BorschtMennonite Borscht

Serves 6

  • 1 lb lean hamburger
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup potato, chopped
  • 1 cup parsnip, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 3 cups cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground savory
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (or 1 can tomato soup or V8)

In a large skillet, brown hamburger.  Season well with salt and pepper.  Transfer cooked hamburger to a soup pot and add water.

Return the skillet to the stove and sauté carrots, potatoes, parsnips and celery until tender.  Add cooked vegetables to the soup pot and then add remaining ingredients.  Bring soup to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes or until cabbage is tender.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Serve with sour cream and a sprinkle of dill.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

This soup is creamy and rich tasting.  It feels like a decadent treat, but without the guilt.  Pureed soups like this just feel like a hug in a bowl.  This soup gets better the longer it sits, so feel free to make it ahead of time and just reheat.

Roasted Cauliflower SoupRoasted Cauliflower Soup

Serves 4-6

Adapted from Cooking Light (Jan/Feb 2013)

  • 2 small heads of cauliflower, cut into florets (about 8 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dill for garnish

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Grease a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

Cut cauliflower into florets and spread out on prepared baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and salt, toss to coat.  Roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally until browned and tender.

Meanwhile, heat butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion to pot and sauté until tender.  Add garlic, stirring occasionally until onion begins to brown.  Add stock, water, and roasted cauliflower.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and add half and half.  Using an immersion blender (or transferring to a blender in batches), blend the soup until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Serve and garnish with dill.

Red Lentil Mexican Soup

This is a great soup to whip up on a gloomy day or when you’re feeling under the weather or when you just don’t know what else to make.  I usually have most of these ingredients on hand, so it can come together quickly and doesn’t take a lot of forethought.  The lentils make it hearty and comforting and you can add as much or as little heat as you want.

Red Lentil Mexican SoupRed Lentil Mexican Soup

Serves 6-8

Adapted from Everybody Likes Sandwiches

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayene pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 (15oz) cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups red lentils, rinsed
  • 6 – 7 cups vegetable stock
  • a few splashes of your favorite hot sauce
  • 1-2 limes, juiced
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro (or parsley)

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté onions, garlic, celery and red pepper.  Once the vegetables have softened, add spices and tomatoes.  Add rinsed lentils and vegetable stock.  Stir, cover and let simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until lentils are tender.  Stir in the lime juice, and serve, garnish with cilantro or parsley.

Roasted Carrot Soup

This is a wonderfully simple soup.  The flavors are delicate and warm.  I think it would be a great soup for when you’re feeling a little under the weather, or when you just need a light but delicious soup.  Roasting the carrots brings out their sweetness, and the ginger and thyme infused vegetable stock adds a nice warmth and earthiness in the background.  I think you could make this even easier by roasting the onions with the carrots.  This was very popular at the last School of Christian Living class of the term.  I served it with Black Bean, Quinoa and Citrus Salad and a Dark Chocolate Cardamom Mousse, but this would also be sublime with a sandwich, or a simple green salad.

Roasted Carrot SoupRoasted Carrot Soup

Serves 12-14

Adapted from Food 52

  • 5 lbs carrots, peeled and cut in 1/2″ rounds
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (more to taste)
  • 3 1/2 (32oz) boxes good quality vegetable stock
  • 3 one-inch pieces of ginger, peeled
  • 5 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 large sweet onions, chopped
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the chopped carrots with half the olive oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt.  Set oven rack 6-8 inches from the broiler and turn the broiler on.  Broil for about 10-15 minutes, rotating the carrots every 4-5 minutes until they’ve got some color and are tender.

Meanwhile, bring stock to a boil in a large pot with the ginger and thyme in it, simmer for 15 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat remaining olive oil over medium high heat.  Add onion and sauté for a couple of minutes, then add garlic and sauté until fragrant and onions begin to brown.

Remove ginger and thyme from the stock pot and then carefully add onion/garlic, the roasted carrots, and ground ginger.  Simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes until carrots are soft enough to puree.  Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Turkey and Dumpling Soup

Unfortunately the chest cold that hit my parents over Thanksgiving weekend has now come to me.  The only good thing about being sick is that it gives you an excuse to have your favorite comfort foods.  One of my favorites is Chicken and Dumpling Soup–way better than Chicken Noodle in my opinion.  I even convinced a soup-hating friend that soup is actually delicious with this soup.  Since we have leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, this is the perfect time to whip up a batch of Turkey and Dumpling soup.  This is delicious, full of veggies, turkey and dumpling clouds.  And even better, we had all the ingredients on hand.

If you make this with chicken instead of turkey you can get one of those pre-made rotisserie chickens from the grocery store or you can cook some chicken breasts in the oven/stove.

Turkey and Dumpling Soup

Serves 4-6

  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4-5 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4-5 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen peas


  • 2/3 cup bisquick
  • 3 Tbsp milk
  • 1 Tbsp chopped herb, like basil or parsley (optional)

In a large heavy pot, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add onion, carrots, celery, bay leaves, and thyme.  Saute until vegetables are soft.  Add butter and flour and mix for about 1-2 minutes.  Add chicken broth and mix well, bring to a boil.  Adjust seasoning as needed.  In a separate bowl use a fork to mix bisquick, milk and herbs together.  Reduce heat to a simmer and add peas.  Then spoon dumpling batter into the soup, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes, until dumplings have fluffed up.  Spoon into bowls and enjoy!