Making hearty soups, chowders, bisques, chili, and stews is a fun and delicious way to stay warm once the winter chill bites the air.  One of the great things about making winter soups is you can basically add whatever you like depending on what’s in season and your particular tastes. With any soup you decide to make, you can include different fresh ingredients, and each time you can be creative by developing unique flavors with spices, herbs, meats, vegetables, and even fruits.

Here are just a few of our favorites…

Vegetable Beef

1/2 lb. Ground beef, lean

1 Onion, chopped

1 clove Garlic, minced

16 oz. Tomatoes, canned

1 cup Celery, diced

2 Carrots, diced

1 Large potato, diced

16 oz. Frozen corn kernels

16 oz. Frozen mixed vegetables

1 cup Water

1 tsp. Salt

1/2 tsp. Pepper

In a 5 quart pan, over medium heat, sauté the garlic and onion in a small amount of oil until tender. Add the ground beef and cook until brown, stirring to break up meat. Drain if necessary, then add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and water to the meat. Add the carrots to the pan and cook for 5-10 minutes then add the potatoes and celery. Simmer for 5-10 more minutes then add the frozen corn and vegetables and cook for about 10 more minutes or until vegetables are tender. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Potato and Leek

2 lbs. Russet potatoes

1 lb. Leeks, washed and chopped

1 Onion, chopped

1 Celery stalk, chopped

1 Carrot, chopped

5 cups Chicken stock or broth

1/2 cup Milk

4 tbsp. Butter

2 tbsp. Chopped flat leaf parsley

to taste Salt and pepper

6 tbsp. Cream or half-and-half

1/2 cup Shredded cheddar cheese or chives

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the potatoes, leeks, onion, celery, carrot; cover, and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the chicken stock or broth, 1/2 cup milk, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender and potatoes are soft. Mash the potatoes and vegetables in the pot or transfer to a blender or food processor in batches and process until smooth. Be sure the soup has cooled for 15 minutes before processing in a food processor.  When ready to serve, reheat the soup, serve in bowls and swirl 1 tablespoon half-and-half into each serving. Sprinkle with chives or shredded cheddar cheese.

Southwest Chicken

1 tbsp. Olive oil

1/2 cup Chopped onion

1/2 cup Thinly sliced celery

1 can Cream of chicken soup

1 cup Low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup Cooked wild rice

1 cup Canned, sliced carrots, drained

2 cans Chunk chicken breast in water, drained (3 oz. each)

1/2 tsp. Chili powder

1/2 tsp. Ground cumin

Pinch Ground chipotle chile

1 cup Shredded, Pepper Jack cheese, divided

1/3 cup Evaporated fat-free canned milk or heavy cream

3 tbsp. Chopped cilantro

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat; add onion and celery. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes or until softened. Stir in soup and broth. Add rice, carrots, chicken, chili powder, cumin, chipotle chile and 3/4 cup cheese; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes to blend flavors, stirring often. Add evaporated milk and chopped cilantro. Garnish with remaining cheese and sprigs of fresh cilantro.