The Jane Butel Southwestern Cooking School offers weekend and week long participation classes focusing on Southwestern cuisine. The school was rate...
Lend me your imagination for a moment. There's a frigid wind blowing outside your windows and you can see your breath the moment you open the door to welcome a good friend in from the cold. Icicles are clinging perilously to the eaves on your home and the snow is steadily piling up on the walk you shoveled not more than an hour ago.
For some of us, it doesn't take much to imagine this wintry scene. It's right outside our front doors! How do you combat the chills, colds, and sometimes dreary weather that hangs around during the winter months? If you're like me, you fire up the stove, pull out your stock pot, and make soup...lots of soup!
Even if your version of winter is dealing with temperatures in the low eighties instead of triple digits, a good bowl of homemade soup can be a welcome treat. Packed with fresh vegetables, hearty meats or legumes, and everything else you need to keep yourself going this winter, soups are the answer to busy schedules and stuffy heads. Because they freeze and store so well, soups are a natural for make-ahead meals. In the time it takes to make a huge pot of soup, you can have yourself dinners for days when you're too busy or tired to cook, lunches on the go, and even first courses for those surprise guest visits.
Before we get to the recipes in this article, I'd like to say a few things about soups. First, allow yourself a good chunk of time to make a really good soup. What really gives them their fantastic flavor is the process of slow simmering over hours. Also, like stews, soups taste terrific a day later, so don't be afraid to make some soup alongside Sunday's ornate dinner and set it aside for Monday. Finally, I love using homemade stocks in my soups. I simply make huge batches of beef, chicken, and whatever else I have on hand at the beginning of each month. I always skim them before they make it into my soups. However, if you don't have the time, energy, or desire to make stocks from scratch, you can choose from among the many canned broths, dry bouillon cubes or granules. Just use enough to make the amount of broth called for in each recipe.
I've included four of my favorite soups in this article. Because I'm a firm believer in being versatile, I've also included some other options with each recipe - who says you can't teach an old soup new tricks?!? So, if it's as the main course for an intimate family dinner or just the start of an elegant party, soup's on!