Hearty soups for a winter day

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There is nothing like a warm bowl of soup on a cold January night to warm your insides. It’s pure comfort food. Here are four soups to get you through the winter, each with its own unique taste and level of difficulty. My absolute favorite is the Biscuit & Gravy soup, which is a dinner version of the breakfast classic. The expression “stick to your ribs” was made for this dish. Enjoy!

Root Vegetable Bisque

½ medium rutabaga

Root Vegetable Bisque

1 parsnip, chopped

2 carrots

2 stalks celery

3 ½ cups sliced russet potatoes

1 teaspoon salt

1 ¾ cups water

1 (15 oz.) can chicken broth

2 bay leaves

2 cups shredded cheddar jack mix

Pepper to taste

I am calling this a bisque, which is traditionally a seafood-based soup, because the textures are similar: silky and smooth.

Peel and chop the rutabaga. Slice parsnips, carrots and celery. Peel and slice russet potatoes. Add all the vegetables to a large pot, and then add the salt, water, chicken broth and bay leaves.  Bring to a strong simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Turn off the heat and let the mixture rest for 20 minutes or more.

Remove bay leaves, then add soup (including broth) to a blender in batches. Do not load the blender more than two-thirds full because the mixture will be warm and steam will build up. Puree in batches and return to the pot. Add all the cheese, and reheat the soup until most of the cheese melts. Serve.

Crazy Chicken Enchilada Soup

1 pound ground chicken

2 tablespoons taco seasoning

Crazy Chicken Enchilada Soup

½ teaspoon cumin seed

1 (10-oz.) can red enchilada sauce

3 cups chicken broth

1 (15-oz.) can diced tomatoes

1 can hominy, drained

1 cup of corn, drained

1 can black beans (optional)

1 large onion, chopped

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

4 soft corn tortillas, torn into small pieces

Tortilla chips, sour cream and cheese for serving

I call this Crazy Enchilada Soup because it’s a cross between taco and enchilada soups.

Note: If you cannot find soft tortilla shells, you can add 1/4 cup cornmeal to the soup. The tortillas basically dissolve into cornmeal.

Tip: You can make this with ground beef, but if you do, add the entire packet of taco seasoning because beef has a stronger flavor and needs more seasoning. I would definitely add the beans if you use beef.

Turn the slow cooker to the 4-hour setting. First add the chicken and stir it together with taco seasoning and cumin to combine it with the spices. Then add remaining ingredients. Cover and cook for 4 hours.

Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese and tortilla chips.

Biscuit & Gravy Soup

1 pound sage breakfast sausage

Biscuit & Gravy Soup

1 large white onion

1(8-oz.) package button or portabella mushrooms

3 tablespoons of flour

2 cups chicken stock, divided use

3 cups whole milk

3 bay leaves

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 (8-oz.) block cream cheese

Cooked biscuits for serving

Sliced green onions for garnish (optional)

 

Chop the onion and slice the mushrooms, and set aside.

In a large pot over medium heat, fry the breakfast sausage with onion and mushrooms until sausage is mostly cooked, but not completely. Then drain the fat and return it to the pot and add the flour. Stir for 2 minutes. Then add 1 cup of chicken stock. Stir for a few minutes to create a thick base then add remaining stock, milk, bay leaves and pepper. Stir until it thickens and is warm, and then add the cream cheese and stir until the cream cheese melts and is incorporated into the soup. It will take a few minutes to melt and get rid of lumps.

Serve with a warm biscuit in the center garnished with chopped green onion or chives.

This soup is amazing! I started off creating a rich sausage and mushroom soup, but the flavor was so similar to biscuits and gravy that I added a biscuit to the center and it was spectacular. The great thing is you can serve leftovers for breakfast.

Crawfish Chowder

Crawfish Chowder

3 tablespoons canola oil

1 large yellow onion

1 ½ cups chopped celery (about 3 stalks)

3 cups chopped russet potatoes

2 ½ tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning or to taste

1 (15-oz.) can chicken stock

3 bay leaves

½ teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

16 oz. half and half

2 cups whole milk

1 (15-oz.) can creamed corn

1 pound crawfish tail meat

Salt and pepper to taste

Oyster crackers for serving (optional)

Chop onion and slice celery. Rinse potatoes and then slice into chunks. I do not peel them, but that is personal preference. It’s important that the potatoes are uniform in size so they will cook evenly.

In a large pot, heat the canola oil over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and cook for 3 minutes, then add the celery and cook another 3-5 minutes, until tender. Then add the flour and Cajun seasoning and stir for 2 minutes. Slowly add the chicken stock, stirring so that it thickens the flour. Once that mixture has combined and thickened, add remaining ingredients and cook for 20-25 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender. You will need to stir frequently and keep your eye on this so it doesn’t burn or curdle. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve with oyster crackers.

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