Slowly savoring a steamy, satisfying soup is one of the pleasures of brisk fall or crisp winter days. Knowing that your soul-warming soup is made with flavorful locally-sourced ingredients is a bonus. Chef Percy Whatley, executive chef at the award-winning Ahwahnee Lodge in awe-inspiring Yosemite National Park in California shares his signature soup recipes, which he dishes up using locally-grown fare.
Warm and wonderful soup recipes
“Locally grown food simply tastes better,” says the CIA-trained Chef Whatley. And taking advantage of locally-sourced ingredients is not just good for the environment.
“If we stay within a concentric circle of local, the products that come through the door are better for you, better tasting, and need little done to them to highlight all of their goodness.” Chef Whatley adds that this makes food preparation pretty simple and allows for an ever-changing array of scrumptious dishes every season.
The following recipes are a few of Chef Whatley’s favorites, proudly served at The Ahwahnee. For Chef Whatley’s tips on making superlative soups, read these chef’s secrets to making the best soups, then savor one of these soups in the comfort of your own kitchen.
Pale Ale Cheddar Cheese Soup
Serves 8Made with Modesto-based Fiscalini Farms bandage-wrapped cheddar and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, this hearty soup is an Ahwahnee star. Be sure to take advantage of the locally-produced cheese and pale ales in your area.
6 slices of bacon, diced
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup onion, fined diced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 quarts vegetable broth
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 bay leaves
1 (12-ounce) bottle Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or another pale ale
8 ounces Fiscalini Farms Bandage-wrapped Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1. Heat a 6-quart stockpot over a medium heat and add the diced bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until bacon is two-thirds done. Add the butter, onions and garlic and continue cooking, stirring frequently, an additional 3 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
2. Mix in the flour to make your roux and cook, stirring, for an additional 3 minutes. Using a whisk, slowly incorporate the vegetable broth and heavy cream. Bring contents of stockpot to a boil. Add the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, horseradish and bay leaves. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Add the ale and cheddar cheese, whisking soup until smooth and all the cheese is melted and has been thoroughly incorporated. Remove the bay leaves, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, and keep hot until you are ready to serve.
Makes 2 quarts – Serves 8 Soothing and rich, pumpkin and mascarpone are made for eachother in this swoon-worthy soup.
1/4 cup butter, unsalted, diced
1 cup diced onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup Madeira wine
3 cups vegetable stock or bouillon
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups diced pumpkin, roasted
1 cup mascarpone cheese
Salt and black pepper to taste
1. Melt butter in an 8-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until an aroma develops. Add the Madeira and cook until it is reduced by half.
2. Add stock, thyme and pumpkin pulp, and simmer on medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Stir in the mascarpone cheese until incorporated completely. Season with salt and pepper to your liking and serve hot.
Cauliflower and Potato Soup
Serves 8 Ideal for dinner after a long afternoon in the cold, seasonal vegetables and fresh herbs are blended into a soothing, creamy soup that takes the chilly edge off and really hits the spot.
3 ounces butter
1 cup rough chopped onion
1 teaspoon rough chopped garlic
1/2 cup peeled, rough chopped turnips
1/2 cup peeled, rough chopped celery root
1 cup peeled, rough chopped russet Idaho potatoes
2 quarts vegetable stock or water
2 bay leaves (remove before blending)
A pinch of each of the following dried herbs and spices: ground thyme, marjoram, curry powder, saffron, and tarragon
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 medium head of cauliflower (roughly 1 pound)
1 cup (1/4-inch) diced Yukon gold potatoes, peeled or not
1/4 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil
1/4 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, turnips, celery root and russet potatoes and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Do not brown. Add stock or water, bay leaves, and dried herbs and spices and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until soup reduces by one-third its volume.
2. Remove the florets from the cauliflower and set aside. Remove the bay leaves and blend the soup smooth with a hand-held blender. Strain the soup through a medium strainer and return blended soup to the pot and add the cream, Yukon potatoes and cauliflower florets.
3. Bring the soup to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat to medium and simmer the soup until the potatoes are cooked but still holding their shape, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Add the fresh chopped herbs to the soup just before serving, to maximize the bright color and fresh flavor of the herbs.
Makes 12 Biscuits
Chef Whatley says these biscuits are superb to pair with any soup.
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1-1/2 cups grated gruyere or Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1 cup buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add the butter and cut it into the flour using two knives or rub it in with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
2. Mix in the grated cheese and chopped sage. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add all the buttermilk. Stir quickly until the dough comes together. Adjust the consistency with more liquid, if necessary.
3. Turn onto a floured work surface and knead 2 times. Pat the dough into a flat disk that is 3/4- to 1-inch thick. Using a knife or biscuit cutter, cut dough into 12 pieces.
4. Transfer to a baking sheet with parchment or spray lightly with pan release. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until well browned and crusty. Best when served immediately.