When the temperature drops, few things hit the spot better than a big bowl of hearty soup! This week’s recipes showcase cream-based soups, chowders and bisques. Whether you’re looking for the perfect comfort food or a dish to complement a bigger meal, these thick creamy bowls will soothe the body and soul and are sublime to the last mouthful. Note: Because of their creamy texture, these soups don’t freeze well, so enjoy them when you prepare them. (Photography by Susan DeLoach Photography)



Creamy Red Pepper Soup with Croutons

Mascarpone cheese is an Italian double cream cheese made from cow’s milk. It’s buttery-rich, soft and delicate and has the texture of clotted cream.

1 tablespoons olive oil

1 onions, chopped

1carrots, peeled and chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

3 cups vegetable broth

1(12-ounce) jars roasted red bell peppers preserved in water, drained

1 small red potato, peeled and coarsely chopped

¼ cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon sugar


Freshly ground black pepper

½ cup mascarpone cheese

Crostini or croutons

Fresh chopped herbs, to garnish

Heat olive oil in a heavy, large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, garlic and thyme and saute until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the broth, bell peppers, potato, wine and sugar. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Cool the soup slightly.  Process the soup in batches in a food processor or blender. Return the soup to pot; warm through and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls. Top crostini with mascarpone cheese and place in center of each bowl or dollop a tablespoon of mascarpone in the center of each bowl and top with croutons. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs and serve. Freeze leftover soup. Serves 4.


Outer Banks Clam Chowder

The word chowder comes from the French word for “stew pot” but chowder is an American original, developed during Colonial times. To be true chowder, the soup must contain a pork product, onions and potatoes.

1 pint clams

4 slices bacon, diced

1 small onion, chopped

1 cup clam liquor and water

1 cup diced red potatoes

½ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1½ cups whole milk

½ cup heavy cream

Chopped fresh Italian parsley

Drain clams and save liquor.  Pour liquor into a 1-cup measuring cup; add water if needed to make a full cup of liquid. Chop clams; set aside.  Fry bacon until lightly brown.  Add onion and saute until tender.  Place bacon and onion in a medium saucepan.  Add clam liquor and water, potatoes, seasonings and clams.  Cook for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.  Add milk and cream; heat through.  Garnish with chopped parsley. Serves 6.


Creamy Seafood Bisque

Sherry is the secret ingredient in this delicious bisque recipe. It’s loaded with shrimp, scallops and crab meat. Hearty and rich, it could be the main course for a sumptuous supper when served with a green salad, some crusty bread and a citrusy sauvignon blanc.  

5 tablespoons butter

1 large onion, chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

6 cups vegetable broth

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese

2 tablespoons dry sherry

1 pound scallops

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

½ pound jumbo lump crab meat

Salt and pepper, to taste

Chopped fresh Italian parsley

Melt butter in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaf and thyme sprigs; cook until vegetables are tender. Add flour and cook for a minute or two. Add tomatoes and broth; stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add cream cheese and sherry, stir to melt cheese and simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat; discard bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Let soup cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Puree in blender until smooth. Pour mixture back into pot and bring to a simmer. Add scallops and shrimp and simmer until seafood is cooked through. Gently fold in crab meat. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serves 6 to 8.



The writer owns Catering by Debbi Covington and is the author of three cookbooks, Celebrate Beaufort, Celebrate Everything! and Dining Under the Carolina Moon. For more great recipes and to view her cooking demonstrations, visit and subscribe to Debbi’s YouTube channel. Debbi’s website address is www.cateringbydebbicovington.com. She may be reached at 843-525-0350 or by email at dbc@cateringbydebbicovington.com