Carrie's Kitchen: These (soups) are a few of my favorite things

Well, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, an early Thanksgiving, allowing you to take your time before getting carried away with the Christmas season.

I’m choosing to take this month of columns leading up to the Christmas holiday as a time to celebrate “a few of my favorite things,” as the song from “The Sound of Music” goes (and has somehow gotten connected with the Christmas season).


I think it’s nice to revel in your favorite things. As long as they are humble things that don’t cause you to max out a credit card or develop a drinking problem. I guess I’m thinking of our favorite “little things.” Things that make you smile. Things that can turn around a bad day. And I think the “little things” of the food world have super powers to cheer us up.

One of my favorite things (to eat) is soup. I cook and eat soup year-round. Thankfully my husband loves it too. My preschooler is getting there; he’s going through an “I don’t eat onions or cooked tomatoes” phase that I can’t wait to end. But he loves broth, and soup carrots, and sausage in soup. I think we’ll get him fully on board in the next few years.

One of my favorite soups is Panera’s cream of chicken and wild rice soup. It’s awesome — creamy, filling, but somehow only 260 calories for a bowl. I look forward to the days it’s available. And while I usually don’t look for copycat recipes, when I decided to do a favorite soups week, I went looking for this one. Sadly, this recipe is not as low in calories, but all that butter and light cream is only going to make it taste better, not worse.

Next, a red coconut curry that I had for the first time this year on vacation by my sister-in-law, who said she’s been developing the recipe since college, tweaking it here and there until she got it to the final, perfect version. I’m not kidding when I say I ate this soup four times on vacation (sorry, rest of the family, that was me). I was worried that the recipe was going to be hard considering all the work she put into it, but it’s not! And the ingredients are all really common. The only extra ingredient I had to buy was masala seasoning, and now I can use it in all those other recipes I’ve put off making because I didn’t have masala seasoning. This soup is creamy and rich without being heavy and you can easily adjust the spice level by adding more chili powder. I think you will really enjoy it too.

And finally, a bacon and baked potato soup I’ve been making for a few years. This is a great, filling winter soup, but there’s no cream—the 2 percent milk, mixed with the starch of the baked potatoes, thickens it up nicely, and the bacon and butter give it a richness, while shredded cheese and the optional sour cream make it a true baked potato dish. This is a great soup for people who don’t think they like soup, as long as they like baked potatoes.

There you go, three great soup recipes. I hope these “favorite things” of mine will become your new favorite things.


Panera Bread cream of chicken and wild rice soup copycat

1 package (6 ounces) quick cooking long grain and wild rice

1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour

1⁄2 tsp ground black pepper

6 cup chicken broth

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cooked and cubed

3⁄4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter

1 cup carrot, diced


1 cup celery, diced

1 cup onion, diced

3 cup light cream

Open rice, pull out seasoning packet and set aside. In a small bowl, combine flour and black pepper. Set aside.

In a large pot over medium heat, combine broth and chicken. Bring to a boil, then stir in rice. Cover and remove from heat.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add carrots, celery, and onion and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in the contents of the seasoning packet and continue cooking the vegetables until softened, about 5 minutes more. Add seasoned flour gradually while constantly stirring to form a roux. Saute roux for 3-4 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Whisk in cream, a little at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir cream mixture into the broth and rice. Cook over medium heat until heated through and the rice is done, 15-20 minutes.


Red coconut curry

2 bell peppers

1 onion

3 jalapenos

6 cloves garlic

1 package boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 large can tomato sauce

1 can coconut milk

1 teaspoon curry

1 teaspoon ginger powder

1 teaspoon masala seasoning

Chili powder, to taste

2 cups rice

1 can peas

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut for topping, if desired

Naan bread for serving, if desired

Slice the bell peppers and onions into 1-inch pieces. Remove seeds from the jalapeños and cut into a small dice. Crush and dice garlic sections into small pieces.

Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to a Dutch oven and turn on medium heat. Brown bell peppers, onions and jalapeños until onion becomes translucent.

Add chicken thighs to the pot and sear chicken cubes on each side. Pan will begin to accumulate chicken juices, drain off and dispose of juices.

Add 1 large can tomato sauce and 1 can of coconut milk to pot, bring to a simmer. Add curry, ginger powder, and masala. Add chili powder to taste.

Cook on low heat for 1 hour, avoid boiling and stir often.

Meanwhile, cook 2 cups of rice with your preferred method.

With 5 minutes of cook time remaining on the curry, add 1 can of green peas and stir gently.

For serving, place bed of rice on plate and top with sauce. If desired, garnish sauce with unsweetened shredded coconut and include side of naan bread.

Source: Andrea Knauer

Bacon and baked potato soup

2 pounds baking potatoes (such as russet or Yukon gold)

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped celery

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 cups 2 percent milk

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup chicken broth

8 slices bacon, crisp-cooked, drained and crumbled

2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion

1/4 cup dairy sour cream (optional)


Scrub potatoes with a vegetable brush; pat dry. Prick potatoes with a fork. Bake in a 425 degree-oven for 40 to 60 minutes or until tender; cool. Peel potatoes, if desired. Chop potatoes; set aside.

In a heavy large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and celery. Cook and stir about 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Stir in flour, thyme, salt and pepper. Add half-and-half or milk all at once. Cook and stir for 5 to 6 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Add potatoes, 1 cup of the cheese, and the broth; stir until cheese melts. Slightly mash potatoes with the back of a spoon or a potato masher.

For the topping, reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon. Stir the remaining bacon and 1 tablespoon of the green onion into soup. Heat through.

To serve, top each serving with reserved bacon, remaining 1/4 cup cheese, green onions and the sour cream. Makes 6 servings (about 1 cup each).