Sweet Potato Corn Chowder with Spicy Sausage
Sweet Potato Corn Chowder with Spicy Sausage is a whole lotta words for yummy soup, and though it is one of my family’s favorites, we only have it once a year so they all call it “Thanksgiving Soup”. We’ve been hosting Thanksgiving dinner since the first year we lived in our house which is almost 20 years now. (What??? I can hardly believe that, but simple math says it’s true.) Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because there’s no gift-giving, no designated candy aisle, no things to dye or hide, no costumes, no fireworks…basically no nonsense; just gratitude and food with family and friends. When we moved into our first grown-up home, I told my parents that I would like to host a holiday and they said “Pick a holiday. Any holiday. It’s yours.” I thought, “How nice of them!”, until I realized how much work goes into this holiday business. I picked Thanksgiving and I still love it because everyone comes to our house and brings a dish or two and we just eat and watch or play games all day long.
There are a couple of reasons why I make his soup, one is that the timing of Thanksgiving dinner is difficult when you deep fry a turkey outside, like we do, and the temp could be 15 degrees or 60 degrees in Pennsylvania, which affects how long it takes to cook the bird. Another reason is that we usually have a houseful of 12-16 people by the time the turkey is even being prepped to go into the hot oil, so a crock of hot soup that everyone can serve themselves at their leisure has proven to be very helpful. In addition, I always make the soup the day before Thanksgiving and we “taste test” the soup for dinner, eliminating the need to cook dinner on Thanksgiving eve. (Pictured above, the ingredients for the soup.)
What we are making is a basic potato corn chowder, but with both sweet potatoes and red-skinned potatoes, and with white (or yellow) corn and Copes Toasted Dried Sweet Corn, which has a deeper, toasty, molasses-type sweetness. I want to be clear that there is no known substitute for Copes Dried Sweet Corn, that I know of. However, do not worry if your grocery store doesn’t carry it because Amazon does! (Can we all pause for a moment and be thankful for Amazon and Prime shipping?) I once emailed this recipe to a cousin in Miami and I hadn’t realized she would have trouble finding dried corn, it being one of those locally available ingredients I take for granted. Well, she must have tried to substitute coarse cornmeal and on her behalf I can say IT DOES NOT WORK. Technically, they are both made from dried corn; but she called me, sadly, on Thanksgiving with a houseful of guests, saying “I think I just made cornmeal soup!” If you do not have Toasted Dried Sweet Corn, and no time or desire to order it here, just omit it and add more frozen corn in its place.
On the package of corn, there are instructions to soak the corn for a long time but I don’t do that for this soup. What I do is put the corn into 3 cups boiling water first, then set that aside while I chop all the vegetables and begin making the soup. When the time comes to add the corn and water to the soup, I just dump the corn and water into the soup and cook it with the potatoes.
This soup was inspired by a Sweet Potato Corn Chowder from The Butler’s Pantry, where I baked and served lunches for a couple of years in the late 90’s. I honestly can’t remember if the dried corn was in their soup or if I added that, but I definitely added the spicy smoked sausage to ours. My dad used to get homemade spicy smoked sausage from a guy (You got “a guy”? I need “a guy.”) and it was so friggin’ delicious and so incredibly spicy that you had to eat it with something like a creamy sweet potato or you’d be crying while still coming back for more. So I put it in this soup and life was wonderful until our guy didn’t make sausage anymore. (The nerve of people!)
So, today I used locally made Andouille sausage from the market and it has a great flavor, but it’s not hot. I always ask “Is this sausage spicy?” and when they say “Yeah. It’s pretty spicy,” I know it’s not. So I put some red pepper flakes in the soup, and let people add their own when we serve it because everyone has their own threshold for spice. I like to use smoked sausage because it’s already cooked so it can be put in at the end, after the “puree-to-thicken” step (just like in the Corn and Lima Bean Chowder). The spicy-smoky flavor is a perfect compliment to the sweet-on-sweet potatoes and corn.
Thanksgiving morning I take the soup out of the fridge for a couple hours then heat it in a Crock-Pot at lunch time. I put it on a table, outside of the kitchen, with various bowls and mugs ,for different sized servings, and bread and butter for dipping, and other snacks like cheese and Rosemary Roasted Grapes, to keep the natives from getting restless.
Any night or day of the week is a good time for this soup. It doesn’t have to be Thanksgiving, of course! That’s just our tradition.
- 3 cups water
- 1 package (7.5 oz) Cope's toasted dried sweet corn
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped in medium dice
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped in medium dice
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 1 Tbsp dried thyme
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 6 medium red skinned potatoes, scrubbed and chopped, 1 inch pieces
- 1 12 oz package frozen sweet corn
- 1 lb andouille sausage, or smoked sausage, cut into bite sized pieces
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1 Tsp red pepper flakes, optional
- Fresh parsley, salt and pepper to taste
- Bring 3 cups water to boil and add 7.5 oz. dried corn. Remove from heat, set aside.
- Heat butter and olive oil in a large soup pot, over medium heat. Add carrots and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper and thyme and stir to coat vegetables in spices.
- Add chicken stock, potatoes. frozen corn, and reserved dried corn with liquid, to the pot. If necessary, add more water or stock to cover vegetables. Raise heat to medium high and bring to a boil, covered. Reduce heat and simmer soup until potatoes are softened, 20 minutes.
- Uncover the soup and puree part of the soup to thicken the broth, either by removing 4-6 cups of soup to a blender and then returning to the pot, or using an immersion blender in the pot for 10-20 seconds. Stir soup to combine.
- Add andouille sausage and heavy cream, simmer for 5-10 minutes. Serve hot.