Food for Soul

Soup for you, you and you: Colorado Springs experts share tips for fall harvest winners

By Teresa Farney teresa.farney@gazette.comOct 7, 2021 Updated Oct 8, 2021

As the leaves turn golden and the evenings get cooler, it’s time to start thinking about making a soul-satisfying soup. We talked to a chef, a gardener and a physical therapist for ideas about using fall harvest veggies to make a healthy bowl of comfort.

“Soup is definitely our thing at The Margarita (at PineCreek),” said Cathy Werle, who has been the primary soup chef for the last 20 years.

Soupmaking started with Patti Burlison, owner of The Margarita, who began the lunch tradition of soup, salad and bread that lives on today. She made soup at her first restaurant on Bonfoy Avenue in 1969, which was actually in her grandmother’s house.

“One of our favorite soups in the fall is sweet potato coconut curry,” Werle said.

A sweet potato coconut curry loaded with chickpeas and kale at The Margarita at PineCreek in Colorado Springs.Chancey Bush, The Gazette

To boost the protein in this creamy soup, she adds chickpeas and kale, then “lots of spices to make it a hearty and flavorful bowl of goodness,” she said.

The Margarita also has a potato-apple-white-cheddar bisque.

“It has the rich feeling of cream,” Werle said, “but it’s not so full of fat because we get the creaminess from pureed potatoes, and the fall apples and white cheddar add a little tang.”

Posole made with slow-cooked pork and red chile at The Margarita at PineCreek in Colorado Springs.Chancey Bush, The Gazette

At home, Werle likes to make chili to enjoy while watching football, but she’s getting more creative with its ingredients.

“I’ve been doing some vegetarian versions of the chili by adding butternut squash or sweet potatoes,” she said.

Eric Viedt, her partner and also a chef at The Margarita, smoked onions and sweet potatoes recently to make a soup version of the chili that the couple calls “smoked sweet potato-black bean-quinoa stew.”

“It was hearty and smoky and spiced just a little,” Werle said.

In addition to some of the fall veggies, she likes to add a lot of grains and beans to her soups.

Posole, made with slow-cooked pork and red chile, left, and sweet potato coconut curry at the Margarita at PineCreek in Colorado Springs.Chancey Bush/The Gazette

“We love white beans, chickpeas, barley, farro, you name it,” she said. “As we get into our colder weather, we’ll do a posole made with slow-cooked pork and lots of red chile. My favorite fall veggies are butternut squash, delicata squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes — which I consume year-round — and, of course, the fall fruits like apples and pears.”

Mary Jo Campbell, who writes the blog about eating healthy foods, says soup is one of her favorite fall meals.

“I can or freeze as many vegetables from my garden as I can and use them to make soup all winter,” she said.

An avid gardener, she grows butternut squash and loves to combine it with sweet potatoes and apple for a puréed squash soup.

“I also grow a lot of carrots and have made veggie stew with potatoes, celery, onions, leeks, and maybe chicken or beef added,” she said. “I’ve also made a minestrone soup and a corn-potato-bacon chowder.”

Meridith Barrett Norwood, a physical therapist at Cornerstone Physical Therapy, has a Facebook group, HolisticU, where she offers healthy eating options.

“I do pretty much weekly menus, which have dairy-free, gluten-free and paleo recipes,” she said.

Many of her soup recipes come from Pinterest, and she uses the Instant Pot and the Crock-Pot a lot for soups and meals. They come in handy since she works.

“Because most of my family are grain-free, I choose recipes that way,” she said. “One of my current favorites is chicken pot pie soup. It brings back childhood memories, is healthy, and you can make it in the Instant Pot.”

She enjoys making soups with a bone broth base. She makes her own broth whenever she cooks meat with bones and skin. Then she freezes it, so it’s ready when she is to make soup.

“Bone broth, not just stock or even processed low-quality broth,” she said. “Bone broth is super healing to the gut.”

She uses the Instant Pot to make bone broth. Here’s how she does it:

• Place the bones and skin from a rotisserie chicken or chicken legs/drumsticks or a whole turkey carcass into the pot. You can add veggies such as celery, carrots or onions.

• Cover the bones with water to the maximum fill line.

• Add about 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.

• Run the broth cycle on the pot two times. “I just feel like it helps to pull a little bit more of the marrow out of the bones by running it twice,” she said.

• Pour the bones through a strainer. Pick out any bits of meat that are still present and add them back to the broth.

• Let the broth cool, then freeze it in 4-cup amounts. That makes it easy to pull out for making rice, she said, “which ups the nutrition level” or for making soups.

You can follow the same process to make beef bone broth. Stock bones can be purchased at Whole Foods and local meat markets.

Farmers markets are still flush with produce, so take any of these ideas and head out to gather some ingredients. You’ll be curled up with a hearty bowl of soup in no time!

contact the writer: 636-0271.

3 RECIPES – Healthy Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Healthy Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Yield: 4 servings

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-sized chunks, approximately 1-2 pounds

2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil

1 onion diced, 1 cup

3 carrots diced, 1 cup

3 celery stalks sliced, 1 cup

5-6 cloves garlic minced

1 pound red potatoes diced

2 cups chicken broth or stock

1 cup full-fat canned coconut cream or milk

1 cup cashews

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 ½ teaspoons dried sage

Freshly cracked black pepper

Fresh parsley leaves chopped, for garnish


Turn Instant Pot to Sauté́ mode. Melt ghee in pot, then add onion, carrots, and celery, stirring regularly. Cook until onions are soft, then add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add potatoes, chicken broth, chicken, dried sage, and fresh thyme. Secure lid with valve in Sealing position and set to Manual High Pressure for 10 minutes. Once Instant Pot pressurizes, cook time will begin.

While Instant Pot cooks, add coconut milk and cashews to high-speed blender. Blend until very, very smooth.

When time is up, Quick Release, then stir in coconut-cashew mixture and add salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Note: If you do not have a high-speed blender, soak your cashews in hot water for a few hours then drain and proceed with the directions.

Source: Meridith Barrett Norwood adapted from

Sausage, White Bean & Kale Soup

Sausage, White Bean & Kale Soup

Yield: 10 servings

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound Italian sweet sausage

1 medium onion, diced

2 large carrots, diced

2 ribs celery, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 bay leaves

1/2 tablespoon each dried oregano, basil, and marjoram

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3/4 cup white wine

1 (15 ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes

64 ounces good quality low-sodium chicken stock

2 (2 ounces) pieces rind of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind (optional)

2 (15 ounce) cans white cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

1 bunch kale, stems removed and roughly chopped

Salt and black pepper, to taste


In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add sausage and brown, stirring occasionally to break into smaller pieces. Once brown, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

To the reserved fat, add onion, carrots, and celery and cook until vegetables begin to soften, stirring occasionally, approximately 10 minutes. Add garlic and dried spices and sauté for at least 30 seconds. Add wine and loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Return the sausage to the pot along with the stock, cheese rind, and tomatoes and cook over medium for 20-30 min. Add beans and kale and cook until kale becomes slightly wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, top with grated parmigiana and a drizzle with remaining tablespoon of olive oil.

Source: Cathy Werle

Sweet Potato, Chickpea & Kale Coconut Curry Soup

Sweet Potato, Chickpea & Kale Coconut Curry Soup

Yield: 10 servings

3 sweet potatoes (2 pounds in total) cleaned and diced (no need to peel)

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 large carrot, diced

1 inch nub of fresh ginger root, minced (no need to peel, just wash)

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground turmeric

1 (15 ounce) can coconut milk, full fat

2 (15 ounce) cans vegetable stock

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (from can or dried and cooked, drain well)

1 1/2 cups finely chopped kale

1 lime

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Salt, pepper, cooking oil

Honey or sugar to taste (optional)


Heat a few tablespoons of cooking oil in a large heavy bottom pan on medium heat. Add onion and carrot and cook for a few minutes until soft and translucent then add the ginger and crushed garlic. Cook for another minute.

Add all the spices and cook for 20 seconds, stirring, until fragrant. Add the sweet potato, coconut milk and vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer and leave for about 20-25 minutes until the sweet potato is soft through.

When the sweet potato is soft (pierce with a knife to check) blend the soup with a hand held blender until slightly smooth, leaving some texture.Add the drained chickpeas and kale and cook at low simmer for 10-15 minutes more. Add the cilantro, juice from the lime and add salt and pepper to taste. Add sweetener if needed

Source: Cathy Werle

Teresa Farney

Teresa Farney

Food editor

Food writer for features life section and columnist for Go! Entertainment – Table Talk column

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