Soothing, silky, spicy souperstars


February is the perfect time to enjoy a piping hot bowl of soup. My Baked Potato soup is hearty, delicious and more flavorful than traditional varieties because I add French onion dip instead of sour cream. For a healthy, soothing soup, try my easy, silky Roasted Vegetable Soup. My Green Chili Pork Stew is another simple option, as most of it cooks in a slow cooker. If you’re up for the task, tackle my nontraditional Shrimp & Sausage Gumbo recipe. It’s delectable, but takes time and patience, so read through the instructions before you commit. Enjoy!

Baked Potato Soup

8 slices bacon, divided use

4 tablespoons butter

1 large white onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 tablespoons flour

2 1/3 cups chicken stock

1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, sliced

3 cups half-and-half

2 bay leaves (optional)

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 cup French onion dip


Sliced green onions

Shredded cheddar cheese

Thinly slice half of the bacon; fry pieces in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add butter, onion and celery, and cook for 5 minutes. Add flour, and cook a couple of minutes. When flour browns, add stock, and stir until thick, scraping bottom of pot.

Add potatoes, and boil for 10-15 minutes. Add half-and-half, bay leaves and salt, and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Try not to let creamy mixture boil, or it may separate. Stir frequently.

Fry remaining bacon in another pan, and crumble it for topping.

When potatoes are tender, remove bay leaves, and stir in French onion dip. Add salt and pepper. Remove from heat, and serve with bacon, green onions and cheddar cheese.

Roasted Vegetable Soup

4 cups chicken stock, divided use

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen, cubed butternut squash or 5 cups fresh, peeled and cubed

2 large carrots, sliced in 1-inch pieces

2 celery stalks, quartered

2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced in 1-inch pieces

2 small yellow onions, peeled and quartered

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste

1/3 cup heavy cream

Pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400.

Pour 2 cups of stock into a large baking dish. Add all vegetables, making sure onion is on top layer, so it can caramelize slightly. Drizzle vegetables with oil; sprinkle with salt. Cook for 50 minutes. Allow to cool. When cool, puree in batches with remaining chicken stock and heavy cream. Add salt and pepper. Reheat and serve.

Green Chili Pork Stew

2 teaspoons ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 pounds pork roast, cut into bite-size pieces

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 onions, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

3 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped

1 (10-ounce) can mild green enchilada sauce

1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles

1 (15-ounce) can hominy or corn, drained

Sour cream

Tortilla chips

Sliced avocado

Sprinkle cumin, smoked paprika and salt on pork.

Heat canola oil in a large skillet; add pork and onions. Cook until meat is just browned, and transfer pork and onions to slow cooker.

Add all remaining ingredients; cover and cook on high for 4 hours.

Serve with sour cream, tortilla chips and avocado.

Shrimp & Sausage Gumbo

3 pounds jumbo shrimp, shells and tails on

2 teaspoons Cajun seafood seasoning, divided use

5 1/2 cups water

4 peppercorns

1/2 onion

1 carrot

1 celery stalk

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup clam juice

3 cups kielbasa or andouille sausage, sliced

1 1/2 cups red onions, chopped

1 1/2 cups celery, chopped

1 cup green bell pepper, chopped

1/3 cup canola oil

1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus 1 tablespoon

1 teaspoon soy sauce

4 cloves (2 teaspoons) chopped garlic

Louisiana Hot Sauce (optional)

Cooked white rice

French bread

Peel shrimp, reserving shells and tails to make stock. Set shrimp aside, sprinkling 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning on it, and refrigerating until later.

Add shrimp shells and tails, water, peppercorns, 1/2 onion, carrot and celery stalk to a large pot. Bring to a simmer for 35-45 minutes. Strain out solids; add chicken stock and clam juice. Set aside, but keep warm.

Fry sausage until browned, and remove from pan. Add red onions, celery and green bell pepper to sausage grease, sautéing for 5 minutes. Add remaining Cajun seasoning. Set aside.

In a cast-iron pot, start roux. Heat canola oil until it starts to bubble. Sprinkle in flour, and stir immediately. Turn heat to medium-low, and stir constantly. You want a peanut-butter-like roux, which takes 18-20 minutes. If it starts to smoke or seems like it might burn, pull it off heat, or drop heat to low.

When roux is ready, add green pepper mixture, and turn off heat. Stir rapidly. Turn heat back on, and add warm stock, about one third at a time, stirring in between so it thickens without clumps.

Add sausage, soy sauce, garlic, and reduce to a simmer for 3 hours, checking on it and stirring frequently. If desired, add 1 teaspoon or more hot sauce.

About 8 minutes before serving, add in shrimp. Serve with cooked white rice and French bread.