With the excitement of the holidays behind us and the anticipation of the new year now waning, it’s easy to find ourselves in a bit of a slump come February. Although I happen to be posting this on what is possibly the warmest day of winter so far (poor timing, I know), let this post be your unsolicited reminder that this dreaded season is FAR from over!!! Now that I’ve burst your bubble, let me make it up to you by suggesting five awesome soups to keep you going throughout winter’s final weeks.
First on my list of recommendations is my very own fresh and filling vegetarian chili recipe. While it’s a perfect summer dish to enjoy out on the deck with the accompaniment of a few good friends and one giant margarita pitcher, this chili is equally as wonderful on a cold February weeknight. Not going to lie, this dish is probably the sole reason my college roommates and I survived the freezing New Hampshire winters during undergrad. I’d often whip up an enormous pot after class early in the week and keep it in the fridge until the three of us finished it off. Served with fresh cornbread and garnished with sour cream, cilantro, and red onion, this vegetarian chili is guaranteed to keep you alive for at least a little while longer.
2 tablespoons oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 sweet bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 28 oz. cans crushed or peeled tomatoes (I use San Marzano tomatoes)
1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans
1 15 oz. can black beans
1 15 oz. can kidney beans
1 jalepeño pepper, seeded and chopped
2-3 tablespoons Mexican chili powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Sugar to taste
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped for garnish
1/2 cup red onion, chopped for garnish
1. Heat oil in a large sauce pan and sauté onions, zucchini, mushrooms, and bell pepper until onions are translucent and veggies have softened. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes.
2. Pour in tomato cans followed by the beans, jalepeño, spices, salt, pepper, and sugar. Stir and cook at moderate heat and then let simmer so flavors marinate.
3. When you’re ready to eat, dish into bowls and serve with a dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and red onion. I love to serve this vegetarian chili with fresh corn bread, rice, or even tortilla chips for dipping. Enjoy!
Next up: This beautiful Thai coconut curry soup is both super colorful AND super flavorful. Sweet potatoes, red curry paste, and turmeric give it its striking color while the chopped veggies give it a fresh lil crunch, making it a much needed reminder of warmer months to come. I worked from two different recipes in order to create this filling soup-meets-salad, which can be found here and here. My own variation of these two awesome recipes can be found below.
Thai Coconut Curry Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil (sesame or coconut oil would also work nicely!)
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 small onion, chopped
1-2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (green curry paste works too)
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1-2 tablespoons turmeric
1 sweet potato (yukon gold works too)
1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
1-13 fl. oz can coconut milk
3 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Lots of cilantro
Salt to taste
24 oz. extra firm tofu, fried
Garnishes and Other Additions
Anything your heart desires. I’d suggest adding some shredded carrots, mushrooms, chopped bell peppers, bean sprouts, snap peas, red or green cabbage, scallions, broccoli, or red onion. Go crazy. Also feel free to add some rice vermicelli noodles if you’re craving something a little more hearty.
1. Place block of tofu on a layer of paper towels, covering it with another layer. Using a plate, cutting board, or cookie sheet, press the tofu and weigh it down with a heavy object to remove excess water. Draining the tofu could take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple hours, so be sure to factor this into your schedule. Cut tofu into bite-sized pieces when ready.
2. Heat oil in a large sauce pan and sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger. When onions become translucent, add curry paste, fish sauce, brown sugar, salt, and turmeric. Continue sautéing over medium heat, careful not to let the garlic brown.
3. Add the potato, coconut milk, and vegetable broth to the pot and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and let simmer for 5-7 minutes. Once potatoes are tender, use an immersion blender or transfer to a regular blender to puree until smooth.
4. Squeeze in lime juice. Be sure to taste the soup and add more broth, salt, brown sugar, or fish sauce if need be. Once satisfactory, begin frying the tofu in hot oil. I added a little bit of teriyaki sauce and probably about 2 tablespoons of the soup itself in order to give the tofu a little flavor and color. Stir fry until golden brown and crispy.
5. When you’re ready to eat, dish soup into bowls and garnish with fried tofu and whatever chopped veggies you’ve chosen to throw on top!
I absolutely love this vegan/gluten free tomato soup recipe. My favorite thing about it is the fact that despite the soup’s thick, creamy texture, it’s totally dairy-free and absolutely delicious. Here, pureed potatoes and various other vegetables take the place of milk or heavy cream, leaving you completely satiated without the guilt and/or gut discomfort. Even better, this soup is ridiculously easy to make.
Vegan/GF Tomato Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1 stick celery, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1-28 fl. oz can diced tomatoes
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups gluten free vegetable stock
1 1/2-2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley (I also added a little fresh basil)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. Heat oil in a large pot and sauté the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic until tender (10 minutes).
2. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables—especially the potatoes—are tender (15-20 minutes).
3. Use either an immersion blender or a regular blender to puree the soup until smooth and creamy.
4. Although I love this soup as it is, because I am not vegan, I’ll sometimes grate about 1/2 cup of parmesan for a little more flavor. This, of course, is up to you! When you’ve finished, serve and enjoy with some fresh (GF) bread.
French onion—another cold weather classic to warm the bones this winter. To make my vegetarian french onion soup I drew from three different recipes: Tyler Florence’s classic french onion, Martha Stewart’s vegetarian french onion with cremini mushrooms, and Elizabeth Rider’s vegan take on this savory soup. Posted below is my own combination of the three.
French Onion Soup
1/2 cup unsalted butter or 2 tbs olive oil
4 onions, peeled and sliced thinly
12 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
3 fresh thyme sprigs, plus more for serving
1 cup red wine or 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 quarts vegetable stock
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 french baguette, sliced
Grated Gruyere cheese
1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, bay leaves, whole thyme springs, salt, and pepper. Stir frequently and cook until onions shrink down and become soft and caramelized (20-25 min.).
2. Add in chopped mushrooms and cook until moisture has evaporated.
3. Add the red wine and bring to a boil until the liquid evaporates and the veggies begin to appear dry. Discard bay leaves and thyme springs, sprinkle in flour, and cook for about 10 minutes.
4. Pour in the vegetable stock, stir, and bring the broth back down to a simmer for 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
5. When you’re ready to eat, ladle the soup into oven-proof bowls or ramekins, laying the slices of french baguette over top. Grate the Gruyere cheese over top and broil until the cheese melts and browns just a bit. Garnish with thyme and enjoy!
Butternut squash is one of my favorite winter veggies due to its ability to cozy-up any chilly afternoon fall through spring. While you can certainly get creative by giving your butternut squash soup a tart apple taste or coconut curry spice, I chose to keep mine pretty neutral, allowing the chopped chive and olive oil garnish to do the talking. Despite its simplicity, this recipe is full of flavor and weekend-warming magic. I drew my inspiration from the butternut squash soup recipes of Cookie and Kate, Food and Wine, and Alton Brown. Give it a shot.
Butternut Squash Soup
1 large butternut squash (about 3 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil (plus more for coating squash)
1 medium onion or 1/2 cup shallots, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced (plus more for sprinkling on squash)
1 teaspoon ginger, peeled and grated
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon of honey or maple syrup (be sure to taste soup before adding—I found that the squash itself made the soup sweet enough for my taste)
4 cups vegetable stock
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons olive oil or butter to taste, drizzled on each serving
Chives for garnish, chopped
1. Heat oven to 425F. Slice butternut squash length-wise, remove seeds, and coat with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. Place halves face-down on in a baking dish. Bake until tender (about 50 minutes).
2. About 30 minutes into baking the squash, heat oil in a large pot and add the onions. Once softened, add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant with a little salt and pepper.
3. When it’s tender enough, scoop the squash from the skin into the pot and add the vegetable stock, honey, and nutmeg.
4. Use an immersion blender or a regular blender to puree the soup until smooth. Feel free to adjust soup’s consistency with more vegetable stock or water. Finally, add more salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.
5. When you’re ready to eat, dish the soup into bowls and garnish with freshly chopped chives and a little butter or olive oil.