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Thanksgiving soup?

This is my first year hosting Thanksgiving, and I'm trying my hardest to make it as complicated as possible for myself. :P

My latest dilemma is whether or not to serve a soup to start. I'm worried about an excess of food, considering my menu is already as big as my family's usual menu:

mashed potatoes
sweet potato wedges
2 vegetables
2 cranberry sauces
relish tray

And if I throw in a soup, I can't decide between a squash soup or mushroom soup. I don't have specific recipes for either, so I was hoping for some chowhound suggestions. Please? :)

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  1. I have a lovely cream of chestnut soup recipe at home - perfect for a Thanksgiving dinner. That or wine broth, which is a peppery combination of red and white table wines, plus some other unlikely ingredients. It's served in brandy snifters. Will send myself an email to try and remember to look it up and send both this evening.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Deenso

      deenso - i would absolutely lurv to make this and therefore am requesting your soup recipe! yum!

      1. re: lollya

        Posted both below...look further down.

    2. I have a funny feeling you meant to type Uncomplicated.....
      Anyway, we usually have a starter/appetizer first course even though we have drinks and hors d'oeuvre as folks arrive. I would suggest a light soup to start. My mother was famous for her chicken consommé. Light, full of flavor and just the thing to prepare the stomach for the ensuing enslaught....er... I mean the delectable comestibles to follow. Others I know have started with a simple butternut squash. I once made a pumpkin soup and served it in baby pumpkins.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Gio

        Well, I guess a more appropriate assessment is that I'm trying my hardest to make it special and that inevitably leads to things getting complicated!

        A lighter soup sans cream is a good idea. And serving it in tiny bowls. Thanks for the ideas everyone!

        1. re: buckeye.mary

          mine can be done without the cream, too.

          1. re: alkapal

            Sounds good. I'll hunt around for a similar recipe. I made Gourmet Mag's zucchini basil soup recently and it was amazing how rich it tasted without any cream in recipe.

      2. may i suggest a creamy carrot/curry/ginger soup. i took it once to a thanksgiving dinner, and people swooned....well, almost! ;-)

        i got the recipe from a friend, but think she cooked from the nyt cookbook, or the joy of cooking. it had about a pound of carrots, about 2 C chopped or sliced white onion, sweated in butter with some fresh ginger, and a little curry powder, then chicken stock was added and it simmers for a while. then puree it in a blender, and stir in some warm cream just before serving. awesome. good to garnish with some toasted almonds! or a sprinkle of paprika.

        1. I think that not only is soup overkill with such a big, heavy (traditional) Thanksgiving menu but it add yet another complication. How to serve? When? I wouldn't bother but since you're looking for complicated :).... What I HAVE done with soup at times, is serve it in very small bowls with Chinese ladle/spoons. People can eat it standing or sitting around anywhere. And if it's a thin-type soup, you could skip the spoons entirely and it can just be drunk. When I've done this, people seem to really get a kick out of it.

          8 Replies
          1. re: c oliver

            If I didn't serve my traditional Roasted Butternut Squash and Garlic Soup my family would walk out the door. Unless, that is, I served the Kabocha Squash and Fennel Soup with Creme Fraiche and Candied Pumpkin Seeds from "Sunday Suppers at Lucques.

            1. re: JoanN

              was just going to recommend the lucques soup. delicious. and yes, complicated, but worth it.

              1. re: JoanN

                no doubt these are both delicious. care to share?

                1. re: lollya

                  Here’s a link to the Kabocha squash soup from “Sunday Suppers at Lucques.”


                  The roasted butternut squash soup is from a marvelous book by Anthony Dias Blue called “Thanksgiving Dinner” that I’ve relied on for years. It’s much (much!) easier, but not quite as wonderful.

                  1 butternut squash
                  3 tablespoons olive oil
                  1 head of garlic, cloves unpeeled
                  1 cup hot water
                  2½ cups chicken stock--I’ve used boxed in a pinch, but homemade really is superior
                  1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
                  1 teaspoon salt

                  Slice squash in half and remove seeds. Brush cut sides with olive oil and place, cut side down, in a glass baking dish. Dump in garlic cloves, water, and the oil that remains after the brushing. Bake for 1 to 1½ hours in a 350F. oven until very soft. When cool enough to handle, scrape out pulp. Squeeze garlic cloves from their skins and add to the squash. Either pulse in a food processor or use an immersion blender to process until the mixture is very smooth. Add the chicken stock about ½ cup at a time until incorporated. Add S&P to taste. Bring to a simmer before serving and adjust seasonings if necessary.

                  The soup keeps for a couple of days in the refrigerator and reheats beautifully.

                  1. re: lollya

                    Oakjoan's paraphrase of the Lucques recipe is here:


                    I think I'm going to resolve to try to cook squash and like it this winter. Neither my husband nor I likes pumpkin, and about the only squash I like is summer squash, and zucchini.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      Do try the Anthony Dias Blue recipe. It couldn't be easier, it's pretty much fat-free (although it sure doesn't taste like it; nobody believes there's no cream in it), and if it turns out you hate it, it's not as though you blew your allowance on the ingredients.

                      1. re: JoanN

                        MMR: I, being a champion of all things squash but used to hate it, really love Jamie Oliver's roasted squash. I'm sure I've posted the recipe here - probably a million times. Will go look for it now.

                2. re: c oliver

                  i was thinking the same thing... we never have soup... i can't imagine wasting stomach space with liquid :)

                  just my ten cents, but i don't think thanksgiving dinner *needs* a starter since the main comes with a billion sides :) then dessert...

                3. My favorite soup at Thankgsiving is a traditional corn chowder. Very easy to make, not too complicated.... corn, red pepper, potatoes, chicken broth, heavy cream, a little onion.... my holiday guests always love my corn chowder soup.

                  1. I made a cream of crimini mushroom soup one year with the idea that any extra could also be served over the mashed potatoes and dressing. You can serve it on the table in a tureen with ladel or just tell everybody that their bowl of mushroom soup can also be used as gravy on their starch. I made the soup from scratch with fresh crimini mushrooms, sauteed white onions..pureed, fat free half and half, flour, butter, Greek spice (Cavendar's), a few other spices, proably a litlte herbes de provence mix. Sometimes I thiken soups and gravies with cream cheese. Don't have exact recipe, sorry. But, it was delicious, all ages loved it, and it was used on the potatoes and dressing, too. Good to have extra gravy.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kc girl

                      I make a mushroom soup that is rich in flavor but without using cream or a roux. I prepare the soup and blend about a half of it and stir that into the rest of the broth. That way the base of the soup isn't too thin. I also use a mix of fresh mushrooms and dried mushrooms, which I think also adds to the rich flavor. My family seems to like having soup every year.

                    2. This may not be what you are looking for but let me throw it out there anyway. Years ago my parents had a friend who was a chef at a resort in Galveston. He offered to make us all Thanksgiving dinner. He started the day off with a pot of Mulligatawny Soup, which was served not as a sit down dish but more of a have a bowl while the rest of the meal is cooking. I thought it was odd but I had some about 2 hours before dinner and it was a perfect way top begin the festivities.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: danhole

                        Agreed. The guests come in and smell the wonders in the kitchen and are sometimes so hungry they scarf up "not so special" nuts or whatever has been set out. Instead of laying out snacks while all is finishing up I have a crock-pot of a light soup and depending on the crowd, small cups or small disposable styrofoam cups and mini-spoons. I actually do this on most holidays with a sippable soup. Once they get to the table they are not crazy starving, but they are definitely ready to chow down.

                      2. I've cooked Thanksgiving dinner for probably 15 years and have never served soup--the rest of the meal is so substantial I think only appetizers are needed --and finger food at that (shrimp cocktail, crudites, marinated mushrooms.)

                        That said, I think a light oyster stew would be excellent. No word at all -- a little shallot maybe and heat the 1/2 and 1/2 or cream and oysters through. Very festive!

                        1. I am making puree of squash and carmelized pears. I consider this soup to be one of the vegetables in the meal. I have made it ahead and frozen it for quick and easy prep on Thanksgiving Day. Oh, and garnish with a dollop of vanilla bean creme fraiche.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: sarah galvin

                            So does that mean it takes the place of another vegetable or is in addition to? I do such a non-traditional, actually Southwestern, Thanksgiving dinner that I can't even remember the "traditional" fare.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              For me, it takes the place of another vegetable. But, hey, I overdo the veggies at Thanksgiving. I love veggies. But counting it as a veggie leaves more room on the plate for turkey!

                              1. re: sarah galvin

                                Having said that it is a veggie serving - I keep with proper serving sizes - just a small bowl as a later posted mentioned - just to pique the appetite.

                          2. there is an excellent mushroom soup in The New Basics. It has no cream but is nice and thick and freezes well. Let me know if you want a paraphrase.

                            1. www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/veiws....
                              The title makes it sound complicated, but it's not. Alot of times I skip the pepitas and you could probaby skip the cream too. They are both just garnishes for the top and the soup itself holds it's own. Very flavorful and such a pretty color. I agree with the suggestions to just serve small bowls as you don't want anyone's appetite ruined, just piqued. Good luck!

                              1. You might serve this peppery clear broth in a miniature brandy snifter - just enough for a small taste. The recipe is from The Governor's Inn, Ludlow, VT

                                Governor’s Inn Wine Broth

                                1 bottle dry red table wine
                                1 bottle dry white table wine
                                1 onion, peeled and quartered
                                1 apple, unpeeled, quartered
                                1 carrot, peeled and cut into several pieces
                                1 tomato
                                1 cup V-8 juice
                                1 teaspoon black pepper
                                2 beef bouillon cubes

                                1. Purée peeled carrot, onion, tomato, and whole apple (core & all) in batches in food processor.
                                2. Pour both bottles of wine into soup pot, and stir in vegetable purée, V-8 juice, and black pepper. Bring to a boil. Add beef bouillon cubes and let boil 15 minutes.
                                3. Strain and restrain through several layers dampened cheesecloth (rinsing the cheesecloth between strainings) until soup is relatively clear. Reheat and serve in brandy snifters. (Soup is sipped straight from the snifters, not spooned.)

                                OR, a small portion of this creamy chestnut soup in a shot glass instead of a standard-size bowl. I don't remember where I got this recipe, but it's another perfect autumnal starter.

                                Chestnut Soup

                                ½ cup minced celery
                                ½ cup minced onion
                                1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter
                                ¼ cup all-purpose flour
                                8 cups chicken broth
                                15-oz. can unsweetened chestnut purée
                                ½ cup heavy cream
                                ¼ cup Frangelico
                                freshly ground white pepper to taste
                                ½ cup crème fraîche for garnish, if desired
                                10 chestnuts, roasted and chopped for garnish if desired

                                In a kettle, cook the celery and the onion in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring until the vegetables are softened, add the flour, and cook the roux, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the broth and simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Whisk in the chestnut purée and simmer the soup for 5 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and Frangelico, simmer the soup for 1 minute, and stir in salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish it with the crème fraîche and the roasted chestnuts. Makes about 12 cups, serving 8 to 10

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Deenso

                                  I like the brandy snifter idea, and also that it is peppery- "open up" the stomach for the big meal. Than again I like the chestnut shot glass. As an aside, if you are low on the glassware check out your local assistance league and other thrift shops.

                                  1. re: torty

                                    Hey Sarah, I'm doing the same - a butternut squash and pear soup. I've used the recipe from Eat, Shrink and Be Merry. It turned out very nice, and I love the hint of sweetness the pears give off. It's not to thick either, just the right consistency. A small bowl will be perfect to whet their appetites.

                                    1. re: torty

                                      If you REALLY want to wow them - and make a whole lot of extra work for yourself - you could do a squash soup Martha Stewart's way by serving it in hollowed out mini-pumpkins.

                                      The old PBS show, Marcia Adams' Amish Cooking from Quilt Country, had a Curried (Butternut or Acorn) Squash and Apple Soup - pureed, with cream, onions,and chicken broth - that is a fall favorite. The recipe is available online if you google it and her.

                                  2. I would be so happy if we had soup with our Thansksgiving dinner!

                                    (PS- I have a soup addiction.)

                                    1. I'm a big fan of starting off dinners with soup. In the past, for t-giving, I've made one of three: roasted butternut squash soup, corn chowder or clear turkey broth with poached quail egg.

                                      This is a good recipe for the butternut squash soup:

                                      medium / large sized butternut squash, cut into quarters and seeded
                                      2+ cups of broth (smoked turkey is esp. good)
                                      milk or cream to taste

                                      preheat oven to medium high heat (about 375 or 400 F). oil a pan with veggie oil and place squash, cut side, down in pan. Bake until very soft, about 40-50 min.

                                      spoon the soft squash innards into blender, add broth and the barest pinch of nutmeg, puree. transfer to pot and heat with cream/milk, butter, and salt to taste. serve with fresh ground black pepper over top; grissini or buttery croutons; crumbled bacon, crisp pancetta, or finely diced lardons.

                                      btw, if you're looking for veggie ideas, roasted asparagus, roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted beets, and other roasted root veggies have been popular with my crowd.

                                      1. We have variously made peanut soup, shrimp bisque, essence of wild mushroom and gumbo. Occasionally we have also begun the meal with a trio of soups using small decorative custard cups with just a few spoonfuls in each.

                                        1. I always want to have a soup, especially in cold weather and have solved the "too much food" dilemma by doing a demi-tasse of soup.

                                          My favortite soup for this kind of meal is a recipe I thunk up after one too many pumpkin or squash soups - the base is roasted sweet potatoes instead of squash.