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One of the tastiest ways to counter winter’s bone-chilling bite is to stir up a big batch of hearty homemade soup. Filled with all sorts of nourishing ingredients, these one-pot meals provide instant warmth, as well as deep, savory satisfaction.

To inspire you at the stove, four local chefs have each shared one of their favorite seasonal soup recipes to tuck into at lunch or dinner; pair them with a chunky salad and some hearty bread. In addition to a clam-packed chowder, there is a plush parsnip soup with crispy Italian sausage, a gooey Gruyère-topped onion soup, and a vegan sweet potato bisque made with coconut milk, not cream.

All the recipes serve approximately six people, but if you make a double batch, you can freeze half to share later with friends, family, or just Old Man Winter.

For Ryan McGovern, chef at Feather & Wedge in Rockport, whatever his farmers are growing makes it onto that week’s menu, such as the sweet potatoes from First Light Farm in Hamilton that he’s recently turned into a sweet potato soup shot with ginger and orange zest and garnished with crunchy, maple-glazed nuts and seeds.

“A lot of my cooking is off the cuff,” says McGovern, who doesn’t use recipes. “I just look at what the farm has given me this week and think, ‘How can I make this vegetable shine?’”

Of course, McGovern also offers more than vegetables. In addition to meat, poultry, and game, he serves fish and seafood, but only what’s caught from local waters. “I cook what’s around, so don’t offer salmon, which people can get anywhere—but just not here,” he says. “The ocean is so big and there are so many great fish out there, like whiting and mackerel.”

Although originally from Chicago, McGovern grew up cooking on Martha’s Vineyard and eventually got a job working on Frank McClelland’s Apple Street Farm in Ipswich, which helped inform his style of cooking. “When you step out of the kitchen and develop a connection with the earth, you treat ingredients differently. You enhance them, instead of covering them up.”

Feather & Wedge’s Sweet Potato Soup with Seed-Nut Granola

(Serves 6)

Soup Ingredients

2 tbsp. Grape-seed oil (or other
mild-tasting oil)
1 Shallot, peeled and diced
1 1/2 tbsp. Fresh minced ginger
2 Medium-sized carrots, trimmed, peeled, and diced
3 Medium-sized sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled and diced
3 13.5-oz Cans unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup Honey
1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
⊲ Zest from 1 orange
⊲ Salt
⊲ Seed-nut granola (see recipe below)

Soup Directions

1. Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the shallot, ginger, and carrots and sauté for 2-3 minutes until the ingredients soften.

2. Add the sweet potatoes and coconut milk and bring the mixture just to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the soup, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Stir in the honey, vanilla, and orange zest.

3. Working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt to taste and garnish each serving with some seed-nut granola.

Seed-Nut Granola Ingredients

1/2 cup Raw pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp. Grape-seed oil (or other
mild-tasting oil)
⊲ Pinch of salt
1/4 cup Chopped pecans
2 tbsp. Pine nuts
2 tbsp. Maple syrup

Granola Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

2. Toss the pumpkin seeds with the oil and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl until the seeds are well coated. Transfer to a baking sheet, spreading out the seeds, and roast 10 minutes, or until puffed and golden.

3. Transfer the roasted seeds back to the medium bowl and combine with the pecans, pine nuts, and maple syrup. Scatter the mixture evenly on the same baking sheet and bake 5-8 minutes more, checking often, until the seed mixture is golden. Let it cool slightly before eating.

Known for its modern American cuisine, such as chops, seafood, and hearty salads and sandwiches, Palmers Restaurant & Tavern has been serving its signature clam chowder at lunch and dinner since the restaurant opened in Andover in 1995. In fact, this traditional New England favorite has proved so popular that the restaurant mixes up approximately six gallons a week. And that’s in addition to its soup du jour.

“I’ve tried over the years to change the recipe,” says chef-owner John Ingalls, “like turning it into a lobster bisque, but it never sold as well as the chowder.” The secret to its success? You’ll have to thank Ingalls’s 95-year-old mother, who inspired the soup.

“She’s a really good cook and always made a delicious clam chowder, which I watched her make when growing up,” says Ingalls. “Hers is a pretty standard recipe and uses only salt pork, unlike ours, which also uses bacon to add smokiness.” Ingalls also adds clam juice to his chowder base, minces the clams so they’re not too chewy, and serves the soup sprinkled with paprika and a side of oyster crackers.

Palmers Restaurant & Tavern New England Clam Chowder

(Serves 6)


1 pint Shucked clams, plus their liquor
3/4 cup Canned/bottled clam juice
1/3 cup Minced salt pork
2 Strips bacon, diced
1 Large yellow onion, peeled
and minced
1 tbsp. Flour
2 cups Yukon Gold potatoes,
peeled and diced
3/4 cup Light cream
3/4 cup Heavy cream
1/8 tsp. White pepper


1. Pick over the clams to make sure there are no shell fragments. Drain the clams, saving the liquor, and add enough water to the clam liquor to yield 1 cup. Mince or grind the clams (in a food processor) to a medium-fine consistency.

2. Add the canned or bottled clam juice to a small saucepan, along with the reserved 1 cup clam liquor and water. Heat until just simmering, reduce the heat to very low, and keep warm.

3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, lightly brown the salt pork and bacon. Using a slotted spoon, remove the meaty bits and save for another use (such as garnishing each serving of chowder).

4. Add the onion to the saucepan and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent.

5. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

6. Whisk in the hot clam juice mixture and continue whisking until the mixture is smooth.

7. Add the potatoes to the saucepan, cover, and cook over low heat for 10-12 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender, stirring occasionally.

8. Stir in the clams, light and heavy cream, and pepper and simmer 5 more minutes (taking care not to boil). Garnish each serving, if desired, with reserved pork bits.

In the mid-19th century Danvers was called Oniontown, due to the abundance of onions this former agrarian suburb grew. Thus, it’s only fitting that Matt Sanidas, chef-owner of Nine Elm, is paying homage to the town’s history with his luscious golden cheese-topped onion soup.

“People just love French onion soup,” says Sanidas, who regularly features it on his American bistro-style menu, “but I’ve noticed that there are two types of people who eat it. One group just wants the onions and broth, and the other just wants the gooey Gruyère on toast.” How does Sanidas know this? He sees what people leave in their bowls when the crocks return to the kitchen.

Regardless of which camp you fall into, Sanidas’s onion soup abounds with sweet onions in a rich base of chicken stock, veal stock, and red wine. It’s then topped with a toasted baguette slice smothered with Gruyere and broiled until bubbly and brown. “I would say we now serve about 80 bowls a week,” says Sanidas, who last year expanded his restaurant from only 8 tables to 20, thanks to the vacant space next door.

Nine Elm’s French Onion Soup

(Serves 6)


1/2 stick (4 tbsp.) Sweet butter
4 medium Sweet onions, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
1/2 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
32 ounces (4 cups) Chicken stock
32 ounces (4 cups) Veal stock
⊲ Cheesecloth for seasonings
8 whole Black peppercorns
2 Bay leaves
1 sprig Rosemary
1 sprig Thyme
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
6 Baguette slices, toasted
6 Thick slices Gruyère cheese


1. Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté over medium-low heat until golden, 15-20 minutes.

2. Add the red wine to the onions and cook until the wine has reduced by half.

3. Stir in the chicken and veal stock.

4. Lay out a square of double-layered cheesecloth and fill the center with the peppercorns, bay leaves, and rosemary and thyme sprigs. Tie the pouch shut with kitchen twine and add it to the pot, along with the Worcestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar. Simmer the soup 40 minutes.

5. Place a broiler rack on the highest rung and preheat the broiler.

6. Remove the seasoning pouch from the pot and ladle the soup into six ovenproof crocks. Place the crocks on a baking sheet.

7. Top each crock with a toasted baguette slice topped with a slice of Gruyère. Place the soups under the broiler and cook until the cheese is bubbling and brown.

Beyond bivalves, Elm Square Oyster Co. in Andover has earned a reputation for its seasonal, locally sourced New England fare, thanks to eight-year veteran chef Michael Sherman. “My cooking style is definitely modern in that I try to be as innovative as possible, but with familiar ingredients.”

Take his parsnip soup, for example, which, like most of his soups, includes a variety of unexpected goodies for a punchy flavor and texture. “First, we put some pickled date puree on the bottom of the bowl, which is cold and offers a burst of tart and sweet,” says Sherman. “On top of that we put a little ‘salad’ of roasted and dehydrated parsnips, and then some crispy, crunchy, salty cotechino, an Italian-style pork sausage made with orange zest. Finally, [at the table] we pour over the base, which I like to keep simple—just a mix of parsnips, broth, and half-and-half.” It’s exciting for the guest, continues Sherman, because they get this multi-layered treat in their bowl that transforms into something else entirely when the hot soup is poured on top.
Sherman offers a different soup every few days based on what’s fresh and in season. In fact, he’s recently featured dessert soups, like the ruby-red fresh cranberry soup topped with green apple granita and eggnog ice cream. With the exception of bread, he makes everything from scratch, including bacon, sausages, mayonnaise, ketchup, and even butter for the bread service.

Elm Square Oyster Co.’s Parsnip Soup with Crispy Sausage and Dates

(Serves 6)


3 pounds Parsnips, trimmed and peeled
1/2 stick (4 Tbsp.) Sweet butter
1/2 cups Chopped leek
1/2 cups Chopped celery
5 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
32 ounces (4 c.) Vegetable stock
2 Bay leaves
1 Bunch fresh thyme
3 cups Heavy cream
1 pound Fresh cotechino
(or other fresh pork sausage)
12 whole Medjool dates, halved and pitted


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and arrange the parsnips evenly on sheet. Roast for 45 minutes.

2. Heat the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the leek and celery and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and roasted parsnips.

3. Add the vegetable stock to the pot, along with the bay leaves and thyme. Bring the soup just to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer 30 minutes. Remove the thyme stems and bay leaves.

4. Stir in the cream and simmer the soup 10 minutes more. Working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Transfer back to the pot and keep warm over low heat.

5. Remove the sausage from its casing and sauté the meat in a medium nonstick skillet until browned, 8-10 minutes.

6. For each serving, place a portion of the sausage and four Medjool date halves in each bowl and top with some parsnip soup.