It’s November and the soup’s on

Ideal for a fall evening, ladle some hearty beef and potato soup into your bowl.

Now is a perfect time to make a pot of soup. The air is turning chilly, and the warmth of a bowl of potato soup is sure to satisfy the body and soul. For cream-based soup recipes that call for half and half or heavy cream, keep in mind that you can substitute ingredients without sacrificing taste or texture. For example, if a soup recipe calls for two cups of half and half, you can substitute 1 1/3 cups low-fat milk with 2/3 cup heavy cream for the half and half. Once the cream or other dairy product has been added to the soup pot, do not increase the heat but whisk until incorporated over low heat. Serve your soup with croutons, a dollop of crème fraiche, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or fresh herbs.

Creamy Beef and Potato Vegetable Soup

• 2-2 ¼ lbs. lean ground beef

• 1 small onion, diced

• 4-5 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

• 1 (14.5 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes (do not drain)

• 1 ¼ cups chopped baby spinach

• 28 oz. chicken broth

• 1 (15.25 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained

• 1 cup heavy cream

• 1 TBSP. flour

• ½ cup cooked and crumbled bacon

• Garnish: chives and freshly cracked black pepper

In a large skillet, cook the ground beef and diced onion until meat is no longer pink and onions are tender. Drain well and set aside. In a large pot, cover the potatoes with water by 2 inches and boil for 20 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Drain the excess water from the pot, then add the can of diced tomatoes, chopped spinach, chicken broth, and corn. Boil for 8-10 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted. Stir in the ground beef, onions, and chopped bacon, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low. In a cup, whisk together the heavy cream and flour until smooth; stir into the soup until fully incorporated. Allow to thicken. Garnish with chopped chives and black pepper. Note: Cheese toast tastes great with this beef and vegetable soup.

Cheesy Potato and Corn Chowder

• 2 cups peeled and cubed potatoes

• ½ cup chopped onion

• 3 cups water

• 4 TBSP. salted butter

• ¼ tsp. freshly cracked black pepper

• ¼ tsp. salt

• 1 (8.75 oz.) can whole kernel corn

• 1 (14.75 oz.) can cream style corn

• 2 cups half and half

• 2 TBSP. all-purpose flour

• ½ cup cooked and crumbled bacon

• 1 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese or Monterey Jack cheese, plus additional for topping

In a large pot, combine the potatoes, chopped onion, water, butter, black pepper, and salt; bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cook until potatoes are fork tender but not mushy. Stir in the whole kernel corn, cream style corn, and 1 ½ cups half and half. Whisk together the flour and remaining ½ cup half and half, then add to the pot; the chowder will thicken. Stir in the cooked bacon and 1 cup cheese, and stir until the cheese melts. Note: Yukon Gold potatoes are recommended. My mom serves homemade garlic knots with this soup.

Crock Pot Potato Soup

• 1 (30 oz.) bag frozen shredded hash browns

• 32 oz. chicken broth

• 1 (10.75 oz.) can cream of chicken soup

• 2 TBSP. minced onion flakes

• 1 tsp. black pepper

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

• 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened

Butter the bottom of a slow cooker. Place the frozen hash browns, chicken broth, cream of chicken soup, onion flakes, black pepper, salt, and cayenne pepper in the bottom of the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 6-7 hours. About 15-30 minutes before serving, add the cream cheese, and stir until melted and thoroughly combined. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, bacon bits, and sour cream. Note: If the soup is too thick, add a bit more chicken broth to the slow cooker. Serve cornbread muffins with this delicious pot of potato soup.

— Amy Fischer lives in Fort Payne, Alabama, and is a Southern food enthusiast who loves to spend time in the kitchen creating tasty recipes. You can contact her at facebook.com/MySouthernTable.

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