Wayne’s Weekend: Hearty Soups

Make hearty Texas chili, italian sausage and basil soup and a corn chowder.

One of the best parts of fall is making hearty soups to warm you up during the cold nights to come.  This week I’m sharing my Texas chili, an old favorite, along with two new soups.  The first, a chicken sausage soup with spinach and basil, is loaded with cannellini beans, tomatoes and pasta.  The second, which comes from my Facebook friend, Kelly Williams, is a hearty corn chowder and a nice meatless contrast to the other two recipes.

Chicken Sausage, Bean and Basil Soup
makes about 3 1/2 quarts


2 tbl Olive Oil
1 lb Italian Chicken Sausage (links)
1 med Sweet Onion, finely diced
1 sm Leek, split, rinsed and sliced
2 Celery Stalks, split and diced
2 lg Carrots, finedly diced
2 cloves Garlic, smashed, peeled and minced
6 cu Chicken Broth
2 cu Water
2 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
1 can Cannellini Beans (15 oz size), rinsed and drained
2 tsp fresh Oregano, roughly chopped
2 cans Diced Plum Tomatoes 15 oz size)
1 can Tomato Paste (6 oz size)
2 cu Fresh Spinach, loosely packed, then roughly chopped
1 cu Fresh Basil Leaves, loosely packed, then roughly chopped
1 tsp Pepper
1/4 lb Dry Fusilli Pasta (farfalle would work well, too)
1/4 cu Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated, for garnish
1/4 cu Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, roughly chopped, for garnish


Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add sausages and sauté until sausages are brown on all sides.  Remove from pan and allow to cool. 

Add one more tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and add onions and leeks.  Sauté for about 2 minutes and add garlic, celery and carrots.  Sauté for an additional 8 minutes until onions are tender and translucent.  Add broth, water, bouillon cubes, cannellini benas, oregano, tomatoes and tomato paste.  Stir to combine.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.  Add basil, spinach and pepper and stir to combine.  Increase heat to medium high and add pasta.  Cook for about 15 minutes until pasta is fully cooked and tender. 

Serve hot and top with parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

Hearty Corn Chowder
makes about 3 1/2 quarts
courtesy of Kelly Williams


3 tbl Oloive Oil
2 cu Diced Sweet Onion, such as Vidalias
2 gloves Garlic, finely chopped
1 lg Carrot, cut into 1/4” dice (about 1 cup)
1 lg Celery Rib, cut inot 1/4” dice (about 3/4 cup)
1 Red Bell Pepper, cut into 1/4” dice (about 1 cup)
1/2 lb Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4” dice
1/2 lb Sweet Potatos, peeled and cut into 1/4” dice
6 cu Reduced-Sodium Chicken Broth
2 Fresh Thyme Sprigs
1 tsp Fresh Oregano, chopped
3 tbl All-Purpose Flour
4 cu Corn (from about 6 ears…or canned if you can’t get fresh)
(to removed the corn from the cob, slice downward with knife to remove the corn, then swipe with flat portion of knife really good to get all that natural sweet corn juice)
1 1/2 cu Heavy Cream
2 tbl Unsalted Butter
Pinch of Organic Coconut Sugar, or squirt of agave (or granulated sugar as a last option)
1 tsp Fine Sea Salt/Pink Himalayan
1 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 cu Fresh chives, finely chopped, for garnish


Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic, carrots, celery and bell pepper and sauté until onions are soft, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Add potatoes, broth, thyme and oregano and simmer, covered, until potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes.  Put flour in a large bowl.  Ladle about 1 cup of the hot liquid into the flour and whisk until fully blended.  Add mixture back to the pot and stir to combine.

Add corn, cream, butter and coconut sugar and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.  Add salt and pepper.  Serve hot and garnish with chives.

Variations: Try adding about 1 lb of shrimp or cubed chicken breast or thighs.

Wayne's Smoked Beef Chili
makes about 2 1/2- 3 quarts


3 tbl Wayne’s Beef Dry Rub Mix (recipe below)
4 lb Beef Eye of Round Roast
6 Slices Bacon, chopped
2 lg Onions, finely chopped
1 lg Green Pepper, finely chopped
3 Jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
6 cloves Garlic, peeled, smashed and finely chopped
2 tsp Ground Cumin
2 tsp Ground Oregano
1 tsp Paprika
1 tbl Chili Powder
4 cu Beef Broth
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1/4 cu Corn Masa
1 cu Water

Optional Toppings

Sour Cream
Chopped Onions
Shredded Jack Cheese
Sliced Jalapeños
Hot Sauce


Rinse beef in cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.  Place in a large sealable bag.  Pour dry rub mix in the bag.  Seal the bag and shake to coat the beef.  Open the bag, squeeze out all of the air and reseal it.  Refrigerator overnight.  The next day, removed the meat from the refrigerator 30 minutes before placing it in the smoker or grill.  If you have a smoker, follow the basic directions and smoke the beef at about 225 degrees F for 2 hours or until beef is medium rare in the center (about 120 degrees F).  If you are using a grill, place a small number of coals to the side and add wood chips (hickory works well).  Place the meat in the center of the grill and smoke on a low temperature for 2 hours.

Remove beef from the smoker and let it rest until cool enough to cut.  Cut off any excess fat, then cut beef into very small 1/4” cubes.  Set aside. 
Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large stockpot over medium heat until bacon is slightly crisp.  Add onions, green pepper, jalapeños and garlic.  Sauté until onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes.  Add cumin, oregano, paprika, and chili powder.  Sauté for an additional 2 minutes. 

Transfer beef to stock pot.  Add beef broth.  Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to a very low simmer.  Place the corn masa in a bowl and slowly stir in 1 cup of water.  Mix thoroughly to remove any lumps.  Add mixture to chili.  Simmer chili covered, wit the top slightly ajar, for about 1-1/2 hours, stirring on a regular basis.   Be sure to keep the temperature as low as possible.  Add more water if necessary to keep beef just barely covered.

This chili tastes best if you can refrigerate it overnight and then reheat it the next day.

Serve hot with an assortment of toppings in individual bowls along with mini jalapeño cornbread loaves (recipe below)

Cattle Drive
Wayne's Beef Dry Rub Mix


2 tsp Paprika
2 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1 1/2 tsp Brown Sugar
2 tsp Sage
1 tsp Celery Seed
1 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
2 tsp Rosemary
1 1/2  tsp Tarragon
2 tsp Parsley

Mix ingredients together and either grind in spice grinder, mini food processor or in a mortar and pestle.  Store in an airtight container.  Also, consider making a larger batch of this recipe to use in future dishes.

Many thanks to Kelly Williams for sharing her recipe.  If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

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