Saturday, February 22, 2014

Soup! 13 Winter Warmer Recipes

My four-year-old keeps asking me if it's almost spring. Here in Philly we get more slush than snow that lays nicely on hills for sledding or that clumps easily into snowmen. My daughter is also quite the little fashionista and much prefers the pastel colors and lighter fabric of her spring and summer wardrobes to her winter one.

I, on the other hand, love winter. Hot cocoa by a warm fire, fleece and flannel sheets, the stark, solemn beauty of snow-covered evergreens and skeletal deciduous trees against a clear, blue sky - I can't get enough.

How can to get my kiddo to better appreciate the coldest season?

Maybe the quickest way for winter to get to my daughter's heart is through her stomach. She might not be into playing in freezing temperatures in a bulky snowsuit, but she sure enjoys a bowl of hot soup.

I present 13 of my family's favorite soup recipes discovered online and tested in my kitchen. They are mostly vegetarian or vegan for health reasons, but the list felt incomplete without chicken soup and beef stew. Also, tastiness was of prime concern and easiness a close second.

I chose 13 because that's roughly the number of weeks of true winter that we in the north must endure, and because I'm a skeptic who enjoys scoffing at superstition.

1.) I'm a huge fan of the recipes found on Susan Voisin's blog, Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, and have included two of her soup recipes in this post. The first is my new favorite, Ridiculously Easy Cream of Broccoli Soup. It is exactly what its name describes - super easy to make and quite delicious. You can see my daughter scarfing it up in the photograph above. With six common ingredients (plus salt and pepper), and requiring only a pot and blender to make, you can't go wrong.

2.) Also from Susan Voisin's blog, I present Stormy Black Bean Soup. This has been a favorite of mine for at least a couple years. It's great as a one-pot meal that you can throw together after work. I usually dress mine up with some hot sauce and slices of avocado.

3.) The magazine Chop Chop is a pretty good source for family-friendly recipes. The ingredients are all familiar to many kids, and these are recipes that even small children can help prepare. I discovered two soups that our family enjoys. The first is Super Tomato Soup, which of course pairs wonderfully with a grilled cheese sandwich (or quesadilla.)

4.) The second soup from Chop Chop is Butternut Squash and Apple Soup. Butternut squash is a pain in the butt to peel and chop, but I've noticed a lot of grocery stores starting to offer packages of pre-cut squash, and this is a great use for them.

5.) Dr. John McDougall is a food guru who advocates a plant-based diet to promote health. He's known for his best-selling books full of easy-to-make, appealing recipes. I'm rather enthusiastic about parsnips, having discovered them in my early adulthood. Not everyone is familiar with them, but they are sort of like a pale, yellow carrot with a more subtle, sweet flavor. Parsnips are truly fantastic either steamed or roasted. On Dr. McDougall's website I found another use for them, this wonderful Potato and Parsnip Soup. There are several recipes on the page, so you have to scroll down to find that soup recipe.

6.) Kale is a big food celebrity among the health-conscious these days, so how could I not include a soup with kale? I love well-prepared kale, and so do my kids. It pairs wonderfully with potatoes, as I found with this recipe for Potato and Kale Soup, also from Dr. McDougall. (Again you must scroll down a bit on the page to find the soup recipe.)

7.) I had some difficulty choosing just one lentil soup recipes for this post, and finally landed on this Curried Red Lentil Soup by chef Linda Lantos. It is a little more elaborate than the preceding recipes, but it is worth the effort if you have the time and patience.

8.) I recently discovered the food blog Bev Cooks, and this winter tried a couple of her truly tasty and exotic soups. The first is Thai Coconut Corn and Mushroom Soup. I'm just crazy about anything with coconut milk and mushrooms, and Thai cuisine is something I feel my children must learn to appreciate.

9.) The second from Bev Cooks is Smoky Corn Chowder with Shrimp. Getting enough iron is always a concern with my petite, little girls who eat mostly vegetarian. Shrimp is high in iron, and more importantly, very yummy. The inclusion of this recipe also satisfies the obligatory bacon requirement.

10.) I've made Beaker's Vegetable Barley Soup probably over a dozen times over the past ten years. It is an unpretentious, satisfying soup to eat with fresh bread on bitter cold days. Even better to eat while reading a good short story with some soothing guitar music in the background. This is the sort of meal that inspires me to appreciate life a little bit more.

11.) A few years ago a friend of mine turned me on to Pumpkin Black Bean Soup with Curry. Whenever I've made it for guests it's always a big hit. I've never kept to one version of the recipe (there are many online, including one from Rachel Ray), but this link does the job. I should also mention that I have always replaced the whipping cream with coconut milk.

12.) Now we come to the absolutely must-have chicken noodle soup. The soup we Americans eat when we're sick or otherwise need comfort. My maternal grandmother's chicken noodle soup recipe was so well-loved that it was served as part of the meal during her funeral's reception. I have tried many different chicken noodle recipes over the years, and it was again difficult to choose just one to include here. I landed on Easy Chicken Noodle Soup from a Leftover Roasted Chicken Recipe because I found it to be a practical recipe for busy parents.

13.) The final must-have (in my opinion) in any list of winter warmers is beef stew. My mother-in-law has several times made beef vegetable stew to serve us as soon as we arrive after the 9+ hour drive home for the holidays, and I consider it to be one of the most satisfying and comforting meals. I've tried a whole lot of those over the years, some more successful than others. This Beef Stew with Carrots and Potatoes found at Once Upon A Chef is the best I've found in recent memory.

Just a few more weeks of winter left. Stay warm!

No comments:

Post a Comment