Two hearty soups for one chilly weekend

by Terry B on September 2, 2009

Marion cooks up a delicious, hearty Potato, Parsnip and Carrot Soup with sausage and dill, based on childhood memories, and I revisit a simple, satisfying soup with white beans, sausage and leafy greens. Recipes below.


Unseasonably cool weather [and mind you, we’re not complaining—we love it] put Blue Kitchen in full soup mode this past weekend. We both made hearty, warming soups. I’ll let Marion tell you about hers first. And if summer is still being summery where you are, you’ll find links to a couple of chilled soups at the end of this post.

My mother didn’t care for cooking. She loved to bake, and my childhood is crowded with memories of amazing pastries—braided challahs; tiered cakes iced and decorated with tiny! marzipan! fruits and vegetables!; sheets of napoleons so good that I don’t even bother to taste napoleons any more because they will be a disappointment; cinnamon rolls at once austere and intense. But the cooking? Oh, well.

There were exceptions, of course. For special occasions, roasted geese and ducks. Anything she ever made with a potato–latkes, kugels, salads. One of her attempts at Americana, chuck roast sprinkled with—yes!—dried onion soup and baked in aluminum foil, which I recall thinking was amazingly wonderful. And her soups. Elegant clear very gold chicken soup. Mushroom barley soup. Borscht, starting with the single most gristly ugly piece of beef at the store plus some dirty beets from the yard and transforming it all into this tart, clear purity. And potato soup with lots of fresh dill.

This dish is a modest homage to those wonderful bowls. On Sunday, we came home from an afternoon riding our bikes along the lakefront and tramping around Lincoln Park and then riding our bikes some more. The weather was more like early October than late August, cool, cloudless, with the sky that autumnal deep dry blue and a brisk wind, and we were STARVING. What did we have in the fridge? These very ingredients, and half an hour later they were dinner.

Potato, Parsnip and Carrot Soup
Serves 3 to 4

3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, not peeled but cut into approximately 1-inch chunks
1 parsnip, peeled and finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 teaspoons butter
4 to 5 ounces kielbasa, diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus a little more for garnish

Put the potatoes in a heavy pot, then add the diced parsnip and carrot to the pot. Add water just to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the potato is cooked—about seven or eight minutes [see Kitchen Notes]. Turn off the heat.

Transfer about half the soup—both the vegetables and the liquid—either to your food processor or, if you prefer to use a wand, to a deep bowl. Add the butter to it. Purée, either pulsing your processor or zapping around with the hand wand.

When the soup is completely smooth, add it back into the soup pot and stir to blend. Put in four or five ounces of diced kielbasa and two tablespoons of fresh, chopped dill. Heat everything through and simmer for two or three minutes. Serve hot, garnished with more dill.

If you wish, instead of butter use olive oil, and omit the kielbasa. Honestly, this soup is hearty and delicious and satisfying even without  the butter and sausage.

Kitchen Notes

Wet or dry? The water content of potatoes varies quite a bit, depending on the variety you use and on the time of year. Newly harvested potatoes have a higher water content than potatoes that have been in storage for some time. [I learned this the hard way, making potato gnocchi that gobbled an unimaginable volume of flour.] This variation in water content also affects the cooking time.

White Bean Soup with Sausage and Chard


Well, that’s what it was when I first wrote about it. But this time around, this soup was thisclose to being replaced by carryouts from Chipotle. We had spent much of Saturday on chores and schlepping, and I had neither the time nor the inclination to mess with even something so simple as cleaning and chopping Swiss chard. But when I thought of replacing the chard with baby spinach, the soup seemed suddenly much more doable that night—and more desirable than any carryouts.

Like Swiss chard, spinach is chock full of nutrients, antioxidants and other cancer-fighting properties. Crucifers also promote heart health and protect bone density. Unlike chard, baby spinach can be bought in pre-washed bagfuls, which is why it made the cut last Saturday night.

Two other key ingredients in this soup are white beans and kielbasa. The beans are good for you because they deliver lots of protein and fiber. The kielbasa is good for you because it tastes good and will make you happy, and that can make you healthier. Seriously.

Two more ingredients play a big role in shaping the flavor of this soup, elevating it, making it more complex—thyme and white wine. You’ll see what I mean when each of them hits the pan and fills your kitchen with wonderful aromas.

Okay, enough blah, blah, blah. Here’s the recipe for White Bean Soup with Sausage and Chard. Feel free to make it with Swiss chard, spinach or even kale.

Too hot for soup? Chill with these

Here are a couple of delicious chilled soups. And as it happens, one of these is mine, the other Marion’s:


{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Helmut September 2, 2009 at 8:56 am

Both those soups look wonderful. Potatoes and beans are such satisfying ingredients. What a great meal for a chilly Winter day!

Laura September 2, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Oh these both look fantastic! The weather here in New York has been cooling down quite dramatically lately as well. As much as I hate the heat I have to admit that the apparent end of summer is making me a tad melancholy. But then I see recipes like these and begin to look forward to crisp fall air.

melrose September 2, 2009 at 8:11 pm

That’ll be my lunch tomorrrrrrooooowwwww!

Nancy September 2, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Parsnip is one of my all time favorite vegetables but always seem a little pricey. Good way to get the flavor and stretch the dollar. I’m absolutely using this recipe. Thanks

Katie September 2, 2009 at 10:32 pm

Both of these soups make me look forward to fall and winter! I can’t believe I just said that. But, I have a lot of venison sausage in my freezer that my dad gave me, and they would be perfect in both of these.

Carolyn September 2, 2009 at 11:06 pm

These are my kind of soups! Almost makes me look forward to the fall. Almost.

Chip September 3, 2009 at 1:23 am

I so look forward to Wednesday evening after dinner, the kids are in bed and heading over to Blue Kitchen to see what y’all have in the pot!

And, ah! Beans, greens & sausage! Any combo is great, isn’t it? Down here, I like to do cannelini, collards, & some of my homemade chicken andouille. Sometimes as a soup, but more often more like a stew to be put over rice!

Terry B September 3, 2009 at 4:55 am

Hi, Helmut! Don’t rush the season on us—we’re calling these “autumnal.”

Laura—You know, the fall is perhaps my favorite season, except for the fact that it leads to winter.

Hope you like it, Melrose!

Nancy—Marion includes parsnip in most soups she makes. It’s one of those ingredients that just makes soup taste soupier.

Katie, I can totally taste either of these soups with venison sausage. I don’t suppose your dad would adopt us, would he?

Carolyn—One thing I often miss in the summer is cooking wintry dishes.

Thanks, Chip! Homemade andouille sausage? You really need to start a food blog. I mean in your spare time, of course, between running a bistro and putting kids to bed.

Alta September 3, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Oh, how I have been craving soup! It’s still in the 90s here (Dallas), but I can’t wait for fall to come. I would love to have that potato soup for lunch. Yum.

Melissa September 3, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Perfect weather for soup, esp bean soup. Any weather is great sausage weather, in my book (sort of like bacon!) I”ve been craving a dish like this ever since reading your post on Chickpeas & Spanish chorizo. These two recipes are coming with me to Maine. They sound perfect. Thanks.

Jennifer Hess September 3, 2009 at 8:41 pm

And now I’m craving soup. Gorgeous, both of them.

altadenahiker September 3, 2009 at 10:27 pm

Well, this all looks a little too hot for me right now, but I’m sure come November I’ll give them a try. (Challah, challah… sounds familiar … I’m racking my brain — of course, I could just go rack google’s.)

Hannah September 3, 2009 at 11:40 pm

I’m just south of you and Marion in St. Louis for school and we too have had the unseasonably cool weather in the past few weeks. As a result, I made a sibling-soup to yours last weekend – lentils instead of white beans, kale (and spinach to clean out the fridge), turkey kielbasa and chunks of butternut squash. First time the Dutch oven has been used in weeks!

Also, I 100% agree with your sentiment about parsnips – they make any soup just that much better!

Chip September 3, 2009 at 11:41 pm

Sausage-making is a labor of love. It’s not terribly difficult but it’s time consuming, usually a process that extends over a few days.

Let me know when y’all are coming and I’ll be sure to feature it as a special. (Wink-wink, nudge-nudge.)

Parsnips? Love ’em. I put them in pot au feu. I’ve also made chips out of them, at the behest of an Alton Brown episode. Makes a great garnish for steak!

Terry B September 4, 2009 at 12:54 am

Alta—Try the watercress vichyssoise recipe at the end of the post. It’s essentially cold potato soup—and it’s delicious, if I say so myself.

Melissa—Have a great time in Maine! And come back with food stories for us.

Thanks, Jennifer!

altadenahiker—Hope you’re doing okay, and that the fires are getting under control.

Hannah—I grew up in St. Louis, and Marion and I lived there for about a dozen years. I know you’re relishing the unseasonably cool weather. Your lentil soup sounds delicious!

Chip—One of these days I’m going to try to make some sausage myself. It is so delicious, and so many people are doing exciting things with it.

Christina September 4, 2009 at 1:00 am

Parsnips have an eternal place in my garden for recipes like the first. Oh, how I love them. Oh, how it is too hot to even imagine eating them right now. Your post has me insanely jealous over a cool weekend.

Neither chard nor spinach are cruciferous vegetables. They don’t belong in the same family as turnips, broccoli, kale, cabbage, and all sorts of other veggies that have cross shaped (cruciferous) flowers as their primary commonality. Both spinach and chard are members of the chenopodiaceae (goose foot) family, another nutrient-packed family with all kinds of great veggies. That’s my very nerdy factoid for the day. Whatever, they’re all great for you!

Thanks for reminding me that fall really is coming our way, eventually.

Terry B September 4, 2009 at 1:04 am

Christina—Dang. The Intertubes are so full of misinformation, and I’ve been falling for it a lot lately. I’ll fix the post. Thanks, my nerdy friend.

Toni September 6, 2009 at 4:04 am

I’m with Christina – Oh, how I wish it was cool enough for these soups! Marion’s childhood memories of her mom baking are the memories I have of my aunt baking. My aunt was the baker, my mom was the cook. I got caught in between, loving them both.

But both those cool soups look fabulous to me. I’ll have to bookmark this page and save it for when I’m not wilted.

katrina September 6, 2009 at 9:11 pm

Beautiful, beautiful, just-my-taste soups! Thanks for two marvelous new additions to my soup pot.

Ben Witzig September 15, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Just made it today. Hillshire Lite Kielbasa- turkey, pork, beef gives the flavor you want. Maybe a bit more than 4-5 oz though. The Yukon gold potatoes require 10 minutes instead of 7-8 minutes. Puree half the soup to a smooth texture, more than pulsing provides. Recipe has no salt added, but 1/2 tsp sea salt helps a lot. Experimented with a little half and half, 3- tbsp stirred in bowl. Now that’s some soup!

grace February 22, 2010 at 11:34 pm

The potato carrot parsnip soup was a huge disappointment. We followed the recipe exactly and it came out as a big vat of bland mashed potatoes with bits of meat. Definitely would not consider this a soup or something you could have as a meal- way to starchy, makes your blood sugar go up just to look at it. Maybe if you have a lot of time to waste you could have it as a side dish.

Terry B February 23, 2010 at 2:19 am

Thanks, Toni and Katrina!

Ben—Your variations sound great! You’re right about the salt, but depending on the sausage you use, it can add quite a bit, so we err on the safe side and add it later.

Grace—I’m sorry the soup was a disappointment for you! It really is a favorite at our house.

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