Inspiration: I’ve been making Elly’s soup for years, and it has always been one of our favorite fall/winter meals. When we stopped eating white potatoes at home a few years ago, I sadly put this recipe aside, and I haven’t made it since. Until…..the magic day when it occurred to me to use sweet potatoes instead, since we still include those in our diets every now and then. I don’t know why it took so long for that thought to cross my mind!
What We Loved: One thing that I’ve discovered about my preferences is that I tire easily of brothy/watery soups, but I could eat thick, hearty chowders like this every single day in the colder months and be a happy girl. Those thinner soups can sometimes be a means to end, but I can never wait to eat this soup. It’s fantastic and sits solidly in our favorites category (with Black Bean and Sausage Soup, Pork Hock and 15 Bean Soup, and Three Bean Soup with Ham, if you’re counting). Like my other favorite soups, the depth of flavor in this one is just out of this world. The mushrooms are really prominent and earthy; there’s a great, rich zing of salty bacon; and the sweet potatoes lend such a lovely, mild sweetness. We really love the velvety, creamy texture (which results from those sweet potatoes, some smoky gouda, and a bit of half and half), and another plus is that this soup is certainly filling enough to be a full meal. A recipe like this makes me happy that we’ve got some nice cold evenings ahead of us to enjoy it.
Tips: You can puree as much or as little of this soup as you’d like. I’ve pureed it all of the way in the past or only a little bit, and I’ve found that I really prefer it pureed about halfway (if that). That way, you get the super creamy texture, but you still have nice, big chunks of mushroom/sweet potato and salty little pieces of bacon in there, too.
Mushroom, Sweet Potato, and Smoked Gouda Chowder
Source: Adapted from Elly Says Opa
6 slices bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced (I used portabellas)
3-4 cups sweet potatoes, cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
Good pinch of dried thyme
1 bay leaf
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup half and half
4 oz smoked gouda, shredded
1. In a stockpot or dutch oven, cook the bacon until it has rendered its fat and is crispy. Remove the bacon and set aside.
2. Add the diced onions and the mushrooms to the bacon fat in the pot. Season with a little salt and pepper, and cook until the moisture released from the mushrooms evaporates and the vegetables start to brown, about 10-15 minutes.
3. Add the sweet potatoes and the garlic, stirring to combine. Add the thyme, bay leaf, and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the sweet potatoes are tender. Season again with salt and pepper, and return most of the bacon to the pot, leaving a little extra to garnish the soup.
4. Remove the bay leaf. Puree as much or as little of the mixture as you want in a food processor, and return the pureed soup to the pot (alternatively, use an immersion blender). Add the half and half and the gouda. Simmer until the soup has heated through and the cheese has melted. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
5. Serve, garnished with the extra bacon.