Janet's Notebook
Falling for Satisfying Soups

Creamy Potato Bacon Soup

There are so many reasons to love this time of year: cooler temperatures, chunky sweaters and trees ablaze in color. Perhaps most thrilling of all - at least to us comfort foodies - is the arrival of soup season!

And if we're going to kick the season off right, there's no more decadent starter recipe than Amber Franks' Potato Bacon Soup. A rich, silky combination of all things creamy, Amber achieves her pot of perfection by utilizing two different types of prepared soup bases AND a full brick of cream cheese! The idea came to her during an attempt to recreate the potato soup at her favorite restaurant.

"I was in search of a potato soup recipe similar to Rafferty's famous potato soup to make for my husband's b-day," says Amber. "After reading endless soup recipes, I finally took all my favorite parts from each recipe and came up with this. It's now requested at ALL family functions during the winter months! Hope you enjoy as much as we do!!!"

Looking for the perfect tasty toppers? Treat this soup like you would your favorite baked potato. Sprinkle on some cheddar, load on the bacon and dot with fresh scallion. The result is one sinfully delicious bowl of happiness.

For equal amounts of creaminess but with a tad less sin, take a whirl at whipping up a batch of Chiarra Ferrante's Creamy Asparagus Soup... which happens to contain no dairy! This sneakily healthy recipe achieves its smooth texture by incorporating nutty almond milk and pureed cauliflower.

"This recipe is so good it's hard to believe that it's completely vegan," smiles Chiarra. "One thing that I recommend is to find as thick an almond milk as you can. Otherwise, a non-dairy heavy cream substitute will do (nut based is preferred, as it adds a great rich flavor)."

The Kitchen Crew and I love to surprise guests with this unexpected, fresh-tasting soup. Like Chiarra, we tend to go heavy on the garlic and cumin for an even bigger explosion of smoky flavor.

If speed is your current need, look no further than your crock pot. Skip Davis has channelled his "ooh la la" and perfected a surefire shortcut for homemade French Onion Soup.

"Simple but delicious, just set it and forget it," says Skip who combines classic French onion flavor with downhome technique. The only pre-cooking this soul-warming recipe requires is a quick saute of the onions. When they are nice and supple, add them to your crock pot along with beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, dry sherry and a little bit of water. Three hours later you've got a bowl of beauty just begging for a slice of toasted bread and Gruyere! Oui, oui!

For a sip of something even heartier, grab your Kielbasa and your spoon! Jen Lobb is serving up a deliciously easy bean soup that's a meal all on its own.

"My dad got this recipe from a friend YEARS ago and it's a staple in my home," says Jan who likes to use a combo of butter beans, pintos and black-eyed peas in her batches. "It's so easy and can be made last minute on the stove or prepped early and cooked on low in a crock pot."

The subtle tang of cider vinegar adds a special flavor note, and makes it the perfect accompaniment to a warm loaf of crusty bread and a glass of wine (if you're so inclined.)

Soups are wonderful not only for their ease, but also for their limitless versatility. Try these fantastic recipes just as each of our special home cooks wrote them, or gather what you have on hand and do some improvising! Your next autumnal masterpiece may be just a ladle away.

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cortney schofield - Feb 1, 2013
Hey everyone i need some help here. hopefully a few of you might be able to give me some tips. I love the french onion soup that is baked with the cheese on top. YUM! but that bread that is underneath the cheese is always soggy when its supposed to be crunchy. I went to one diner and it was perfect! i think it was some kind of croutons? Any ideas on how to rid my soup of sogginess? =)
Ashley Burnam - Oct 2, 2012
I love love soups! My favorits was always a toss up between cream of mushroom and potato leek... I decided to combine them together and it came out just as you'd expect... delicious!
Creamy Mushroom & Potato Soup
Bonnie Beck - Oct 1, 2012
Have a question. How do you pinch a recipe from another site you have used and post it?
sallye bates - Oct 1, 2012
Sue. I thought about buying a hand grinder, but all the research I did convinced me to use the food processor (due to waste, efficiency, ease of cleaning among other things. Is meat really that much better with the hand grinder?
angela stevens - Sep 30, 2012
I am looking for a recipe to make the Red Beans and Rice served at Popeye Chicken. It is so good.
Bonnie Beck - Sep 29, 2012
Millie...I know. I have serveral helpful hints posted too. I just think it would be nice if it would be in once place to post them on instead of doing a search.
Sue Mucha - Sep 29, 2012
i also make my own ground beef quite often. a meat that used to thought of as a reasonable cut for thrifty meals is now very expensive, especially when you don't know what's in it. it doesn't really take that long to make it in a food processor and if i really want it good, i'll get out my hand grinder!!
Millie Johnson - Sep 28, 2012
Bonnie, I think there is a few groups that are help and tips... you'll could power search the groups.
Bonnie Beck - Sep 28, 2012
I wish there was a page with just helpful hints we could post on.
Millie Johnson - Sep 26, 2012
that should be "complete",sorry.
Millie Johnson - Sep 26, 2012
My family loves this colorful and delicious stew, Purple Passion Cabbage Stew ! I make a cast iron skillet of southern cornbread to caplete the meal . mmmmm , so good !
Lu Annat, there is a group that is cooking from scratch... you may want to look at it. :)
sallye bates - Sep 26, 2012
Lou Ann, It's funny, but looking through my recipes I find that most of them do use natural ingredients. I am listing the names of a few of them below. Where the recipe calls for soup mixes, buy the low sodium ones. Hunts makes excellent no-salt added tomato products. Also, I make my own bread crumbs so I can control what spieces they are covered with.

I hope you can use some of all of these, they are all on the website here.
Nancy Beyer - Sep 26, 2012
Thank you for your quick answer; let me know how the chuck roast comes out. I use a lot of hamburger meat and although I have heard of pink slime I haven't ready any of the articles, seems everything is bad for you these days. I think I read on another recipe site that they ground up a brisket and made hamburger patties from it and called them brisket burgers or something like that. Sounds interesting.
sallye bates - Sep 26, 2012
Nancy, I'm sure you can use about any kind of beef or turkey. The only thing I have tried so far is the sirloin. This weekend I am going to try a chuck roast. Just be sure to stick the cubes in the freezer for 30-35 minutes before processing.
Nancy Beyer - Sep 26, 2012
S. M Bates thank you for sharing how you make your own hamburger, are there any other cuts of beef one could use to make it from?