13 Seasonal Thanksgiving Soups

Starting Thanksgiving dinner with a bit of soup is a lovely tradition, whether it's as a first course to a formal feast or a simple ladle of soup into mugs to sip before everyone sits down at the table. In my experience, having a pot of soup going can keep everyone from getting crazy-hungry or gorging on chips before the turkey's done. You can make most of these a day or two ahead and simply reheat them if (when) stomachs start grumbling.

  • 01 of 13
    Cream of Brussels Sprouts Soup
    Molly Watson
    Capture the nutty, grassy flavor of brussels sprouts in this simple soup—perfect for making ahead and reheating when everyone's ready to get the feast started.


  • 02 of 13
    Butternut Squash Soup
    Molly Watson
    This recipe for simple butternut squash soup includes plenty of flavor variations to mix up this autumn favorite.
  • 03 of 13
    Carrot Ginger Soup
    Molly Watson
    This gingery carrot soup is easy, delicious, and, if you use the optional almonds, filling. Use the almonds if this soup is standing in as a light lunch, leave them out if you're offering it as part of the big feast.
  • 04 of 13
    Molly Watson
    This quick and warming cauliflower soup makes a gentle start to a heavy meal. Serve small bowls with the swirl of herb butter at a more formal dinner, or stir it all together for easier serving at more casual gatherings.
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  • 05 of 13
    German Onion Soup - Zwiebelsuppe gratiniert
    FoodPhotography Eising/StockFood Creative/Getty Images

    This German onion soup recipe is a light-colored cousin to the darker French onion soup. It is sweet and luscious and warming and perfect for a cozy start to Thanksgiving.

  • 06 of 13
    Corn Soup with Chile
    Molly Watson
    By grating the corn off the cob, you avoid having to strain this soup to remove excess husky or fibrous kernels. The bit of onion adds sweetness; the potato adds body. Garnish with chopped roasted green chiles if your friends and family like things spicy.
  • 07 of 13
    Cream of Green Chile Soup
    Molly Watson
    This ultra-creamy and spicy soup is wonderfully warming and luscious—and a nice twist to the traditional Thanksgiving menu while honoring one of the great North American contributions to delicious eating: the chile.
  • 08 of 13
    Creamy Parsnip Soup
    Molly Watson

    The nutty flavor of parsnips fill up the bowl here. Serve small cups of it while people are milling around waiting for the main turkey event.


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  • 09 of 13
    Creamy Turnip Soup. Photo © Molly Watson
    This soup could not be easier to make. Just saute a few aromatics, boil them in broth with the turnips, puree, and add cream. It's warming and comforting and full of flavor. It's a perfect starter to a huge meal.
  • 10 of 13
    Mushroom Soup
    Molly Watson

    A little bit of potato adds thickness to this simple mushroom soup that brings tons of fall flavor to the feast.


  • 11 of 13
    Smoked Paprika Lentil Soup
    Molly Watson

    Spanish paprika adds a lovely light  spicy, smoky note to this beyond-simple soup. Good for adding taste and color to the Thanksgiving table.


  • 12 of 13
    Sweet Potato Carrot Soup
    Molly Watson
    The addition of a small amount of cream at the end will soften and enrich this soup, but is fully optional—the soup is just as smooth and tempting without it—and I'm likely to leave it out when serving it on Thanksgiving.
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  • 13 of 13
    Wild Rice & Mushroom Soup
    Molly Watson
    This super-fall soup is an ode to a soup I had once at the St. Paul Hotel with my grandmother. Minced mushrooms mingle with earthy, nutty wild rice in a creamy mix. Serve small portions to jump-start everyone's appetite before the bird arrives at the table.