Mushroom, Sweet Potato, and Smoked Gouda Chowder

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
Kosher salt
Black Pepper

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.


64 thoughts on “Mushroom, Sweet Potato, and Smoked Gouda Chowder

  1. I love that you used sweet potatoes. I’m going to have to try that next time, for sure! I’m actually making a recipe I found on your blog tonight (the poblano/butternut squash gratin). :)

    • Thank you, Heather!

      I have never-ending lists of recipes, too, in about fifty different places….I feel like I’ll never get to all of them!

  2. Made this soup last night and it was absolutely fabulous! I also added fresh corn off the cob which gave it a nice crunch and sweet flavor. I will defiantly make this again, THANKS for sharing!!!!

    • I used garnet sweet potatoes, Angie, but I’m sure that any kind would work. The flavor and the color of the soup would be slightly different, of course, depending on which ones you choose.

      If you try the purple-skinned ones out, please let me know how it works!

    • Tastes good with the purple skinned sweet potatoes! I left some of the bacon bits unblended and some mushrooms as well for texture. Served it with Cajun Chicken :D

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    • I would probably just leave it out…I think the soup would still be great without it! If you eat pancetta, prosciutto, or ham, those might be good substitutes, though.

  6. Made this soup today – so very yummie! I used a handful of sun-dried tomatoes to flavour the oil instead of the bacon because I’m a vegetarian, and it still was an awesome soup, perfect for a winter evening. thanks for the recipe!

  7. Has anyone tried to freeze this soup? I made a huge batch of it last night. It’s delicious, but I don’t think we’ll be able to finish it all before it goes bad in the fridge.

    • Jamie – I haven’t tried to freeze this, so I can’t say for sure how it would turn out…..but if you think the leftovers are going to go bad anyway, I’d say that you might as well give it a try! My gut feeling is that it would be just fine in the freezer. But please let us know how it works if you do give it a try.

    • I froze half the batch and ate it a few weeks later. It was just as good! I’d recommend to heat it up on the stove vs. the microwave. It seemed to defrost better as a whole on the stove. enjoy!

    • I shy away from ingredients like fat free half and half because I like to use whole, natural ingredients. With fat free, they take out the fat and replace it with sugars and artificial ingredients. So I haven’t given it a try. If you’re worried about this soup being too heavy (I know, it’s a pretty heavy one!), you could try it with milk. I prefer to drink skim, and that would probably even give the soup very similar results, just maybe a little bit thinner. The nice thing about this soup though is that pureeing the sweet potatoes really adds a lot of thickness/creaminess to the soup all on its own.

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  9. Oh, yum! None of my family likes mushrooms (can you even imagine?!?) except me, but I am going to have to make this anyway, because it just sounds too amazing to not! I’ll save it for back-to-school, so no eyes are watching the preparation! :) I guess I’ll purée all the way, to avoid the accusatory stares of “is there mushrooms in this?!?”

    • Hehe….hope you can sneak the mushrooms past them :) I used to hate mushrooms too, but I kinda forced myself to eat them all of the time and now I adore them!

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  11. Just wanted to stop by and say that it’s been a whole year, and this is still my favorite soup recipe! It also happens to be the favorite of everyone I’ve ever made this for, so we are all so thankful for your blog!

    • Oh, that’s so good to hear! I’m so glad!! I haven’t made this soup in a long time, and it’s definitely soup season. I think it’s going to go on my menu next week :)

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  13. If you’re out of sweet potatoes, and you have 3 dozen winter squash, then I highly recommend that you try this recipe with cubes of summer squash, peeled of course. Butternut was good, and the delicata squash — even better. If you’re lactose intolerant you can use fresh raw goat milk and you will find this delicious still. I used some smoked salt, a little liquid smoke, and some goat milk cheddar in lieu of the gouda. It was still delicious! And pretty low carbohydrate I might add.

    • Wow, what an awesome list of alternative ingredients and suggestions! Everything sounds quite awesome. Thank you! And I’m glad that you enjoyed everything, too :)

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  17. I just made this and it’s not the pretty orange like the picture but a dark poop color. Very disappointed in the color but the taste was excellent. I used portobello mushrooms.

    • I think it probably depends on what kind of sweet potatoes that you use – they range in color from white to deep reddish orange, so that probably affected your color. But I’m glad that you enjoyed the flavor!

  18. I made this tonight, for supper, and the whole family loved it!! This chowder is amazing!! Thank you very much for sharing!!

  19. Made this soup yesterday and even better today. I didn’t have onion so used extra garlic and left our the half and half to save calories. Next time going to sub butternut squash for sweet potatoes then it will be real low cal.

    • Great to hear! I’m so glad! I’m curious how it would taste with the squash instead….I’m thinking that it’d be different but also good!

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