IT'S NATIONAL HOMEMADE SOUP DAY!

With record cold and snowfall around the country, National Homemade Soup Day couldn't come at a better time. Here are my favorite homemade soup recipes... fast, easy, and homemade delicious!

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP RECIPE: My number one all-time most popular soup recipe is my Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. I've made it hundreds of times for thousands of people. Everyone loves it- you will too. Get the recipe...

My all-time most popular recipe... Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. So much so, I now grow my own butternut squash from all the seeds!

My all-time most popular recipe... Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. So much so, I now grow my own butternut squash from all the seeds!

LOADED BAKED POTATO SOUP: The comfort of a fully loaded baked potato, spoon version. Your family and friends will love this soup! Perfect for family game night, a tailgate, or a quick weeknight dinner. Best of all, everyone can customize their bowl of soup their own way. Get the recipe...

Loaded Baked Potato soup is even better than its namesake. Another fast, easy, and delicious recipe.

Loaded Baked Potato soup is even better than its namesake. Another fast, easy, and delicious recipe.

LOWER ALABAMA STYLE GUMBO: I don't think I like anything more than gumbo. You can put just about anything you want into it; this one happens to be shrimp and Alabama made Conecuh sausage but I also make it with chicken. Mardi Gras is in February so it is gumbo season! Get the recipe...

Lower Alabama gumbo always is chock full of fresh Gulf shrimp!

Lower Alabama gumbo always is chock full of fresh Gulf shrimp!

SAUSAGE, WHITE BEAN & ESCAROLE SOUP: This has to be a one of the most flavorful and easiest recipes I've ever come up with. You might not know what escarole is; a leafy green vegetable used frequently in Italian cooking. You certainly can substitute kale in place of escarole if you cannot find it. Get the recipe...

Easy and so much flavor... try my Sausage, White Bean, and Escarole Soup- I promise it will become a cold weather favorite!

Easy and so much flavor... try my Sausage, White Bean, and Escarole Soup- I promise it will become a cold weather favorite!

CHEF MICHELE RAGUSSIS' AWARD-WINNING NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER RECIPE! Michele recently shared her recipe with me and it is one you'll want to try. Most of us only order Clam Chowder in a restaurant; now you can make it at home! Get the recipe...

Chef Michele Ragussis' award-winning restaurant style New England Clam Chowder.

Chef Michele Ragussis' award-winning restaurant style New England Clam Chowder.

MY AWARD-WINNING CHILI RECIPE: My chili is so fast and easy with smoky chipotle and roasted tomatoes creating warm and cozy flavor. You make it in a crockpot so it could not be easier... and our friend Melanie has won her local chili competition with it several years in a row! Get the recipe...

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NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER RECIPE FROM FOOD NETWORK STAR CHEF MICHELE RAGUSSIS

If you watched Season 8 of Food Network Star, you undoubtedly remember Chef Michele Ragussis. I could think of no better person to go to for a recipe on National New England Clam Chowder Day than Michele. She is an expert on New England cuisine. Her pilot for Food Network, My New England, highlights her love of the region and her passion for cooking the seafood found in its waters.

This is Michele's award-winning New England Clam Chowder recipe. It's like a trip to the New England coast in a bowl... comforting, rich, and rustic. Note that Michele indicates using frozen clams if you cannot find fresh. I know you'll enjoy this recipe- it is one of the best clam chowders I've ever eaten. Thank you, Michele, for allowing me to share it! Read more about Michele in my interview or on her blog: Chef on a Pier

MICHELE’S NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER

INGREDIENTS

1 pound (4 sticks) butter

1 1/2 white onions, diced

5 stalks celery, sliced thin

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons clam base* or clam juice

4 potatoes (Idaho or Russet), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes

2 pounds fresh chopped clams **

4 cups heavy cream

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

A few dashes of your favorite hot sauce

1 loaf crusty bread, for serving

* Find clam base at the seafood market or substitute clam juice, found at most grocery stores

**Look for fresh clams at your local seafood market, or use high-quality frozen clams

DIRECTIONS:

In a deep stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir. Let the flour cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in 8 cups water and the clam base and whisk vigorously, making sure there are no lumps from the flour. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Stir in the potatoes and chopped clams. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the cream, dill, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring back to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until thickened, another 20 minutes. Check for seasoning, add a few dashes hot sauce, and serve with your favorite crusty bread.

Recipe copyright Michelle Ragussis, 2011

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SOUP SEASON: LOADED BAKED POTATO SOUP

What if you could have all of the delicious elements of a loaded baked potato in a bowl?

My Loaded Baked Potato Soup is not only easy, it’s a winner on game day for party hosts and guests alike. Serve the soup in mugs with a half a sandwich or some grilled toast. You can substitute reduced fat milk, cheese, and/or sour cream to trim calories and fat. If you do, would still add a tablespoon of butter and maybe a splash of heavy cream at the end just to give it a nicer feel and finish.

loaded baked potato soup recipe Martie Duncan

LOADED BAKED POTATO SOUP

Prep time: 10 minutes     Cook time: 15-20 minutes

6-8 large red potatoes, peeled and diced

4 slices bacon, diced

1 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 cup yellow or white onion, diced

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups milk, divided

1/4 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded  

4 teaspoons scallion, white and green tops, sliced thin

Directions:

Peel and dice potatoes. Put in a pot and cover by one inch with cool water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until fork tender.

While the potatoes are cooking, add the olive oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook bacon until done and crispy. Remove the bacon to drain on paper towels. Set aside.

Discard all but 2 teaspoons of the drippings from the bacon. Over medium-high heat, sauté the onion in the drippings until translucent. Reduce the heat slightly. Add the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. You don’t want to brown the flour, you simply want to cook the raw flavor from it.

Using a whisk, add the broth to the flour, a little at a time, whisking to incorporate each addition so no lumps form. Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent scorching as the mixture thickens. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat; add salt and pepper.

When the potatoes are done, strain, reserving some of the cooking liquid to thin the soup if necessary. Add the hot potatoes to the soup. Use a fork or potato masher and mash the potatoes into the soup, leaving some texture and larger pieces of potato. Add some of the reserved cooking liquid or a bit more chicken broth if the soup is too thick. Stir in the sour cream and butter. Top with grated cheese, bacon, and scallions. Adjust seasoning if necessary, adding salt and pepper to taste.

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