Soupy Sundays: Sweet Potato and Corn Chowder

Soup is one of my favorite genres of food. Yes, soup recipes generally involve a good amount of chopping and sometimes require a bit of a time commitment, but sitting down to a really good bowl of soup is always worth it to me. 

Therefore, I’ve decided to designate Sunday as Soup Day and make a new soup recipe every week.  We go to the farmer’s market on Sundays, so I figure it’s the perfect time to pick out any fresh produce that I might need for the recipe.  I find that soup is a great meal to make before the week gets going because the leftovers make ideal lunches to bring to work - filling, healthy, and easy to pack. 

When we were living in Detroit last summer, I picked up a great book at the public library called “The Daily Soup.”  I tried their Cucumber with Yogurt Soup recipe first and was immediately hooked.  Those people really know their soup.  I ended up just buying the book (after completely dog-earing the library’s copy) and have made many of their recipes since then. 

I even made my own vegetable stock using The Daily Soup recipe a couple times and then used it in their vegetarian soup recipes.  Ina Garten always talks about the superiority of homemade stock on her show, and so after ranting a bit about why it would ever be necessary to make your own stock, I finally broke down and made my own to see what all the fuss is about.  

It's delicious.  It just is.  The stock makes your house smell amazing and adds a wealth of flavor to every soup you make.  Yes, you have to wait around for an hour while it simmers and throw out all the cooked vegetables at the end, but I promise that when you take your first bite of homemade soup with your homemade stock, you’ll know what I’m talking about.   Ina was right - it’s just better.  Not necessary, but better. 

So after making my own homemade vegetable stock yesterday, I moved on to the Sweet Potato and Corn Chowder.  It’s based on the Daily Soup’s “New Zealand Sweet Potato Chowder,” and is absolutely delicious.  I made it according to the recipe back in Detroit and thought it was one of the easiest and most delicious soup recipes I had tried.  It was really rich, thanks to heavy cream that it calls for in the original recipe (though I’m sure I used half & half instead), and so I decided to lighten it up a bit by cutting a bit of the butter (you can usually cut about half and not miss it, any more and you're pushing it) and using almond milk instead of heavy cream

Spoiler alert: it’s still rich and delicious, and now it's also low in fat (and potentially vegan).

Sweet Potato and Corn Chowder (Makes 12 cups)
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil*
2 medium Vidalia onions (or 1 large Spanish onion)
½ Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, minced (or 2 teaspoons dried thyme)
2 bay leaves
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon pepper
6 cups vegetable stock**
5-7 sweet potatoes***
2 ears of fresh corn, kernels sliced from the cob, about 1 cup 
1 cup milk (I used almond milk, but you can substitute regular milk or unflavored soy)
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced

*Using olive oil and non-dairy milk makes this a vegan soup.   
**Though I made my own stock, the nutrition facts posted are based on using a low-sodium organic vegetable stock from the store.
***Some of the sweet potatoes I used were huge, so I only needed about 5 until they basically filled the pot and were still covered by the stock.  If yours are small- to medium-sized, use about 7 of them.  I only partially peeled the sweet potatoes, peeling away any parts where the skin wasn’t smooth, and cut them into ¾-inch to one-inch cubes. 

1.  Melt butter (or heat olive oil) in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and the honey and caramelize for 10 minutes until the onion is tender and golden.

2.  Add the thyme, bay leaves, salt, and pepper and stir to coat the onion in the seasonings.

3.  Add the stock, sweet potatoes, and corn and bring to a boil. 
4.  When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low or medium-low, so that the soup is just simmering (not a full-on boil).  Let it simmer for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender (a fork should easily go through one of the biggest pieces of potato).

5.  Turn off the heat and remove the bay leaves.  Stir in the milk.  

6.  Puree about half of the chowder in a blender or food processor until smooth.  I used the blender and blended the soup in about 3 batches, adding the pureed mixture back into the soup each time until I decided that it looked thick enough.  You still want some chunks of sweet potato and pieces of corn in the soup, but you really want the broth to be nice and thick.  

7.  After you've returned the puree to the soup, stir in the garlic.  

8.  To serve, ladle the chowder into bowls.  Feel free to top with some fresh parsley if you have it, but it's perfectly acceptable without it.  

This recipe makes about 12 cups of soup.  The following nutrition facts are for each 1-cup serving and using butter and almond milk in the recipe.  Could it pack any more Vitamin A?  

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 130 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Total Carbohydrates
Dietary Fiber
Vitamin A 259%Vitamin C 21%
Calcium 4%Iron 2%

1 comment:

  1. I usually don't post comments on recipe/cooking websites, but this soup was that good! You are right, homemade vegetable stock is SO good. I couldn't find Ina's recipe so I used one from I also used leftover corn on the cob from my freezer and fat free half and half for the milk since I had some I wanted to use up. We chose to blend the entire pot rather than reserve some veggies and it turned out too thick for our tastes. Next time I would use one less sweet potato. Thanks for a great recipe!
    Fan from Illinois:)