Harvest Soup (Secret Recipe Club)

It’s Secret Recipe Club time again!  For those of you unfamiliar with SRC, it is a group of bloggers secretly cooking recipes from one another’s site.  Reveal day is always fun, because we get to see who cooked from each blog and which recipe they chose!

This month, it was my pleasure to be assigned to Feast on the Cheap, a blog by Mary Anne and Mariel, a fabulous mother-daughter duo who believe that everyone should have access to healthy and delicious foods…without breaking a budget.  There were so many lovely recipes to choose from at Feast on the Cheap (not to mention breathtaking photography), but once I saw this soup, I knew I was in love!

The flavors of this soup are absolutely amazing.  The second I tasted this soup, I was in heaven.  In fact, I plan to remake this soup when I host my first Thanksgiving (for both sides of the family) this year.  It makes a large batch of soup, with 10 generous servings, but if you don’t get to it all in one day, it heats up beautifully and gains even more wonderful flavor.  So cozy up with some soup, be thankful for a bountiful harvest, and welcome fall.

Recipe Notes:
*To cook the boneless, skinless chicken breasts, drop them into boiling water and cook for twenty minutes (they can even be frozen at this point—I won’t tell!)  Let them cool while the rest of the soup is cooking and shred.
*For an even easier alternative, shred the meat from a store bought rotisserie chicken, or any leftover chicken you have in your refrigerator (just be sure to discard any skin, fat, and bones).
*I like to add the corncobs for a little extra flavor and body in my soup.  If you don’t have access to corn on the cob, simply use 6 cups of canned or frozen corn and omit the cobs.
*I used Honey Weiss for the beer in my soup, because that’s what I had in the refrigerator.  Feel free to use any beer, but try to avoid the darker beers, like Guinness.

Harvest Soup
Adapted from Feast on the Cheap

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and diced (about 2 cups)
4 cups (32 oz) chicken stock
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 (12 oz) bottle of beer
6 ears of corn, kernels cut off and 3 cobs reserved
1 bay leaf
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp black pepper                          
Zest from 1 lemon (about 1 tsp)
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, drippings reserved
1 large white onion, diced
2 tsp minced garlic
4 cups (32 oz) vegetable stock
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilies
2 tsp chili powder
1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (to taste)
½ - 1 tsp Tabasco sauce (to taste)
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup skim milk
1 pint (8 oz) heavy cream
8 oz shredded cheddar jack cheese
4 oz cubed cheddar cheese
4 oz cubed Monterey jack cheese

In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil.  Add the sweet potatoes, bay leaf, cumin, lemon zest, pepper, reserved corn cobs (but not the kernels), and beer.  The stock will barely cover the sweet potatoes and corncobs.  Simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes are nearly tender, but still a bit firm, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Remove and discard the corn cobs.

Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, fry the bacon.  Once crisp, cool the bacon on paper towels, reserving the bacon drippings.  Crumble the bacon and set aside.

Sauté the onion and garlic in the reserved bacon drippings until tender, about 10 minutes. 

Add the sweet potato mixture to the onion mixture.  Add the vegetable stock over medium heat, stirring until well combined.

Next, stir in the corn kernels, green chilies, chili powder, cooked chicken breasts, and bacon.  Season the soup with Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces, and salt and pepper to taste.  Heat through and turn to low.

Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.

Slowly whisk in the milk and cream.  Keep stirring the milk mixture over medium heat until slightly thickened, 5-10 minutes.  Do not boil.

Pour the milk mixture and shredded cheese into the soup pot, stirring until thoroughly blended.

Serve hot, garnished with cubed cheeses and extra bacon.

Serves 10