After so much rich food over the holidays, steaming bowls of soup are soothing comfort food on chilly January days. Whether it is creamy smooth, a chunky chowder or robust with beans, soup warms body and soul. Most soup recipes make a large pot, which can be prepared ahead and frozen in several containers to have on hand for busy days. When you come home tired from a hectic day, you will be glad to have a batch of soup tucked away in the freezer to heat and serve.

A variety of soup recipes are featured here from good local cooks. While some of the soup recipes simmer for hours, others use convenient foods, with the soup ready to serve in minutes.

Vegetable soups are popular as they become a meal when prepared with beef or chicken, and there are many versions to suit any taste. Cornbread served warm from the oven is a welcomed addition. My mother made a simple recipe by boiling stew beef for a couple of hours, then adding a can of tomatoes and chopped potatoes to simmer for another hour. On a cold night in our drafty old house, her soup was a blissful supper.

Many of the best soups start with simmering chicken, stew beef or chuck roast with onion for making your own broth. Once you have simmered the meat, remove it from the stock and chop it into bite sized pieces. Then, add fresh or frozen vegetables of your choice. A can of diced tomatoes is always good. Other additions can include beans, rice or pasta.

These days, I prepare a variety of vegetable soups, and often the vegetables and meat depend on whatever is on hand. For a quick soup on busy days, the base starts with a 32-ounce container of chicken broth. A package or two of frozen soup vegetable mix goes into the broth with a dash of salt and sometimes a chopped onion. Then, the refrigerator is checked for any fresh or leftover vegetables. If there is leftover chicken or roast, that is chopped and goes in the pot.

For a quick soup, brown a pound of ground beef or turkey in olive oil with an onion, then drain the fat. Add a 32-ounce container of chicken or beef broth, along with a package or two of frozen soup vegetables and any leftover ones you have on hand. A can of tomatoes is always a good addition, and if there is no meat, a can of pinto beans will add protein. If you use a bay leaf in soup, be sure to remove it before serving, as it can cause choking.

A variety of chicken and beef broths or stocks are available for making soups, and they have improved over the years. If you are making soup from an older recipe that calls for chicken or beef bouillon cubes and water, substitute with a container of broth instead, using the same amount as the water called for in the bouillon recipe. 

Years ago, a friend shared a recipe for potato soup using frozen hashbrown-style potatoes when she didn’t have time to peel fresh potatoes after work. The potatoes cook in chicken stock with a chopped onion, then condensed chicken and celery soup are added with milk for a rich, creamy soup. Shredded cheddar cheese, diced ham or bacon bits make a tasty topping.

Condensed cream of potato soup is used in other quick and easy recipes, especially for chowders. Almost any meat or seafood can be used in hearty chowder recipes.

A favorite sandwich, cheese toast or green salad are good accompaniments for soup. While apples or pears are good on greens with toasted nuts for a winter salad, try serving pink grapefruit aAnd avocado on a salad with a light vinaigrette dressing.

For dessert on a chilly evening, bread puddings, apple pies or cookies warm from the oven are yummy with a cup of hot chocolate.

Check the recipes for a variety of scrumptious soups to serve your family during cold January days, and create happy memories around the table.

Pat’s Shrimp Bisque

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 lb. raw shrimp, shelled and deveined

4 Roma tomatoes, chopped

4 cups seafood or chicken stock

½ cup fine breadcrumbs

1/2 cup or more heavy cream

2 Tbsp. dry sherry

Salt to taste

Pinch of cayenne pepper

3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley

Melt butter in skillet; add onion and garlic. Sauté until slightly softened. Add tomatoes and stock; cook until tomatoes are softened, about 5 minutes.

Set aside half of shrimp. Add remaining shrimp to broth with breadcrumbs. Cook over medium heat until shrimp turn pink, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Puree soup mixture in processor or blender until smooth.

Return mixture to pan; add cream, sherry, salt and pepper.

Slice reserved shrimp into one-inch pieces. Just before serving, add shrimp and cook until pink. Garnish with parsley. Makes 6 to 8 servings. Better prepared a day or two ahead.

Country Ham and Potato Soup

Mary Lauderdale

¼ cup butter

1½ cup chopped onions, optional

1 Tbsp. minced garlic, optional

1 cup chopped or ground country ham

2 Tbsp. flour

3 cups chicken broth

4 cups unpeeled new potatoes or peeled regular potatoes, chopped

1½ cups heavy cream

¼- ½ tsp. dried thyme

½ tsp. red pepper flakes

½ tsp. black pepper or to taste

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

½ cup sour cream

In a stockpot over medium high heat, melt butter; add onion, garlic and ham. Cook approximately 4 minutes or until onion is soft and ham begins to brown.

Add flour and stir for 1 minute. Add broth; stir and cook until mixture thickens and bubbles. Add potatoes; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for 15 minutes until potatoes are tender.

With a potato masher, mash potatoes until a few chunks remain. Add cream, thyme, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Cook for 2 minutes. Stir in cheese and sour cream. Remove from heat.

Garnish with additional chopped ham and cheese, if desired. Serve with bread or crackers.

My Grandmother Smith’s Vegetable Soup

Susan DeLoach

Both my dad’s (Smith) and my mother’s (Howell) parents grew up in Stroud on farms, so fresh vegetables were always available. When fresh is not available, fresh frozen is the next best thing. Recipe is easy to double.

1/2 lb. lean ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cups cut okra

2 cups black-eyed peas

2 cups small lima beans

1 cup yellow corn

3 medium potatoes, diced

2 cans petite-diced tomatoes

Salt and pepper to taste

Brown ground beef and drain. Add ground beef and all other ingredients to large Dutch oven. Salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 to 2 cups water to fill pot. Cook on stove-top for one hour. It freezes well if you have leftovers.

Tortilla Soup

Linda Letlow

This is my family’s favorite soup. I don’t always fry the tortilla strips. Sometimes I just crumble some store bought tortilla chips on the top when I serve it!


3 Tbsp. oil

4 corn tortillas, halved, cut crosswise into strips


6 Tbsp. oil

8 6-inch corn tortillas, cut into bite-size pieces

1 medium onion, chopped

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

6 garlic cloves, minced

Two 14 ½-oz. cans diced tomatoes in juice

8 cups chicken broth

1½ Tbsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. chili powder

3 bay leaves

4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

Monterey Jack cheese, grated

Sour cream

Heat 3 Tbsp. oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add tortilla strips and fry until golden, stirring frequently. Transfer to paper towels and season with salt.

Heat 6 Tbsp. oil in large saucepan over high heat. Add tortilla pieces, onion, garlic and cilantro; sauté about 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with juices; bring mixture to a boil. Add broth, chili powder, cumin and bay leaves; return to boil.

Add chicken and cayenne. Simmer until chicken is done, about 15 minutes. Using slotted spoon, remove chicken and bay leaves, and transfer chicken to plate. Chop chicken. Discard bay leaves and return chicken to soup. Serve and top with sour cream and grated cheese.

Daddy’s Clam Chowder

Karen Herring

1 can minced clams

1/3 cup chopped bell pepper

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 can cream of potato soup

Half and half

Real butter

Sauté bell pepper and celery in plenty of butter until soft. Add clams and stir into butter; add potato soup. Fill soup can with half and half and add to mixture. Heat and enjoy! (If it is too thin, thicken with cornstarch mixture with milk.)

To figure amount for a crowd: one can of potato soup for every two people.

Meatball Minestrone Soup

Debbie Broughton

1 clove garlic

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 cans (15 oz each) cannellini beans (white beans), undrained, divided

32 oz. box chicken broth

1 pkg. (1.4 oz) vegetable soup mix

25 cooked meatballs ( homemade or frozen)

1 can (14.5 oz.) Italian style diced tomatoes (basil, garlic, oregano)

½ tsp. dried crushed red pepper

8 oz. uncooked rotini pasta

1 bag (10 oz.) fresh spinach

Sauté garlic in hot olive oil in a stockpot. Add one can of beans and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and add meatballs, tomatoes and red pepper. Return to boil, add rotini and cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in remaining can of beans and spinach. Cook 5 more minutes.

Garnish with Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley, if desired. Serve with breadsticks.

Mom’s Cheesy Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Carrie Watts

3-4 lb. chicken, cooked and chopped

10 cups water, divided

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1 chopped onion

2 cups chopped celery

2 cups diced carrots

2 cups diced potatoes

2 cups uncooked Minute Rice

4 cubes chicken bouillon

16. oz. Velveeta cheese, cubed

Bring chicken to a boil with 4 cups water. Simmer 1 hour or until cooked. Tear chicken into pieces. Save broth.

Add enough water to broth to make a total of 10 cups. Add chicken and remaining ingredients except cheese.

Simmer 90 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Add cheese and stir until melted. Do not boil.

If freezing the soup, do not add cheese until ready to serve. Makes 12-15 servings.

Lorna’s Quick and Easy Potato Soup

Garnish with shredded cheddar, diced ham or bacon, if desired.

32 oz. frozen diced hash browns, divided

1 cup chopped onion

1 can chicken broth

2 cups water

1 can cream of celery soup (undiluted)

1 can cream of chicken soup (undiluted)

2 cups milk

Combine half of the hash browns with the onion, chicken broth and water in a Dutch oven; bring to a boil.

Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Add remaining hash browns and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.

Stir in soups and milk; heat thoroughly.

Makes 2 quarts. Serves six.

Tomato Basil Soup

Allison Drake

2 Tbsp. olive oil or canola oil

2-3 shallots or 1 small yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cans Italian-style diced tomatoes

4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth

4 Tbsp. fresh basil or 2 tsp. of dried basil

1 cup half and half or milk

4 Tbsp. fresh basil or 2 tsp. of dried basil

Heat oil over medium heat and add in shallots (or onions) and cook until tender. Add in garlic. Add the tomatoes and broth and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. Before serving add in the half and half and basil.

Quick Shrimp, Chicken or Ham Chowder

2 Tbsp. butter

1 medium onion, chopped

2 (10 3/4-oz.) cans cream of potato soup, undiluted

3½ cups milk

¼ tsp. ground red pepper

1½ lbs. medium-size fresh shrimp, peeled, or 3 cups chopped cooked chicken or ham

1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat; add onion, and sauté 8 minutes or until tender. Stir in cream of potato soup, milk and pepper; bring to a boil. Add shrimp; reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, 5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink (or add cooked chicken). Stir in cheese until melted.

Corn and Sausage Chowder

Recipe from Sissy Easton’s former Village Cookery of Auburn

6 Tbsp. butter

½ lb. Kielbasa sausage

1 onion, chopped

4 stalks celery, diced

1 lb. red new potatoes, unpeeled

Two 12 oz. cans niblets corn

4 cups half and half

4 Tbsp. flour

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup parsley, chopped

Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in Dutch oven. Dice sausage. Add sausage, onion, and celery and sauté until the vegetables are tender. Dice unpeeled new potatoes. Add potatoes and the juice from the canned corn. If there is not enough juice to cover potatoes, add water. Cover pot; simmer 10 minutes.

Add corn and stir; simmer 10 minutes more. Add half and half; simmer almost to boiling point.

Prepare a roux by melting the remaining 4 Tbsp. butter in a small pan. Add flour to butter and stir until mixture is smooth. Whisk the roux into chowder and cook over medium high heat until chowder has thickened.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle each serving with freshly chopped parsley. Serves 8.

Vegetable Soup with Cabbage and Pasta

Cynnie James

Cut recipe in half for a smaller pot of soup.

3 lbs. ground sirloin

3 medium-large sweet onions, chopped

Vegetable oil

10 cans (original) stewed tomatoes

3 Tbsp. ground thyme

Salt and seasoned pepper

6 whole bay leaves

3 Tbsp. file

Large bag frozen cut green beans

½ small cabbage , sliced thin

Large bag frozen tiny butter beans

Large bag frozen shoe-peg corn

Handful of angel hair thin noodles

Brown meat and onions in small bit of vegetable oil in a large heavy pot.

Place tomatoes (2 cans at a time) in blender, and lightly blend. Add blended tomatoes and 2 or 3 blenders (or more) full of water to beef.

While bringing to a boil, add seasonings and mix thoroughly. Boil mixture on medium for about 30 minutes.

Then add green beans and cabbage and cook for another 30 minutes. Add butter beans and cook another 30 minutes. Lastly, add corn and cook until soup is the desired consistency.

Five minutes before soup is done, add noodles.

Be sure to stir the soup regularly in order to prevent it sticking to the pot and burning. Remove bay leaves before serving.

Quick Chicken Noodle Soup

2 Tbsp. butter or oil

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

Salt and pepper

6 cups chicken stock

2 cups cooked chicken, chopped

½ lb. wide egg noodles

Parsley, optional

Sauté vegetables in butter; season with salt and pepper. Add stock; bring liquid to a boil. Add chicken; return soup to a boil, and reduce heat to medium. Cook chicken 2 minutes and add noodles. Cook soup until noodles are tender. Stir in parsley, if desired.