How many more weeks of winter? Sounds like it’s the right time for a bowl – no, make that a cauldron – of soup.
“People get so excited about soup,” said Caroline Wright, author of the forthcoming cookbook “Soup Club” and founder of a Seattle-based weekly community soup club. “Soup is more than a food, it’s also sort of a mood. It’s very nourishing and it makes people feel safe and comforted.”
And while we can’t control the weather – or a lot of other things beyond the four walls of our homes – we can give ourselves some measure of reassurance with a home-cooked bowl of flavorful soup.
Think something hearty that can power you through these next few months – no delicate bisques or cold gazpacho will do during times like these. Try these six different rib-sticking styles and get some pro tips on keeping your leftovers as fresh as the day they were made.
And if you’d rather shop your pantry than work from one of these recipes, make a soup with what you have on hand with this Empty Your Pantry Soup template.
Manhattan or New England? Apologies to the greatest city in the world, but when it comes to the comforts of chowder, the creamy option really is the cream of the crop. Classic New England clam chowder combines that rich, thick soup base with starchy potatoes and the traditional oyster cracker topping for not one, not two, but three ways to get your comfort cravings fulfilled.
If you’d rather go vegetarian, but still want a chowder moment, substitute sliced, sautéed oyster or shiitake mushrooms for clams and vegetable broth for clam broth.
Vegetarian split pea soup
A bowl of thick, chunky split pea soup is one of the all-time favorite winter warmers – and its simplicity doesn’t hurt its popularity among home cooks, either.
The recipe from the famous Moosewood restaurant, an icon among vegetarians, cleverly uses miso to boost the umami flavor in place of ham. Get a big pot going on the stove, or make it in the slow cooker for a hands-off technique.
Chicken tortilla soup
Oyster crackers aren’t the only way to add crunchy contrast to a hearty soup. Crispy fried (or baked) tortilla strips are what give tortilla soup its name. When your soup is named after a topping, you know it’s a nonnegotiable.
Make this soup in the slow cooker or Instant Pot to get tender, shredded chicken without hands-on simmering time. Bonus: You can bump up the level of smoke and spice by adding chipotle peppers in adobo sauce or chipotle powder.
If your tastebuds need a wake-up call this winter, the Greeks have the answer, and it’s avgolemono. This chicken and rice soup is brightly flavored with a bracing hit of lemon and handfuls of fresh dill and has an irresistibly silky texture, thanks to blended eggs.
The technique of tempering the eggs into the hot broth sounds a lot more difficult than it actually is, and it gets even easier when you use a blender, as in this recipe. Try it out and discover a new way to feed your soul with chicken soup.
Ham and bean soup
There are as many iterations of this soup style as there are varieties of beans across the globe, but the basic concept remains the same. Tender but toothsome beans fill you up, while a hint of ham – typically from a leftover bone or hock – creates a rich, savory flavor.
You can make this versatile soup with any mild white bean, such as great northern, navy or cannellini. The magic of the Instant Pot makes it easy to cook this traditionally long-simmered soup without soaking beans in advance, as in this version.
Thai curry noodle soup
It’s not just folk medicine. Even if it’s not your mom’s recipe, chicken soup really can alleviate the sniffles when you’re feeling stuffy. If you combine chicken stock with ingredients like ginger, garlic and spicy curry paste, you’re bound to feel even better after a single slurp.
Coconut curry noodle soup can be made with your choice of proteins, like chicken, pork or shrimp, or loaded with extra vegetables like squash, sweet potato cubes or greens.
While most soup recipes can be halved or doubled without too much trouble, soup naturally lends itself to the “cook once, eat twice” school of thought. And if you think you won’t eat all the leftovers in a few days, “the coolest part about soup is that it can freeze,” Wright said.
She recommends freezing leftover soup in portions instead of one large block, so it will be easier to reheat what you need as you need it. Along with DIY options like takeout containers, zip-top bags or silicone muffin tins, you can invest in freezer-specific accessories like Souper Cubes or Prepworks Freezer Portion Pods. These multitaskers aren’t just for soup: They’ll turn any sauce-based leftovers into icy blocks.
Even creamy soups can be frozen, though the dairy may separate and give the soup a grainy texture. Thaw completely in the refrigerator before reheating, and reheat gently over low heat on the stovetop for best results.
Because soups with grains like pasta and rice tend to absorb broth as they cool, Wright has a solution to preventing these starchy ingredients from stealing all the soupiness out of the meal.
“When I know I’m going to be freezing or giving soup to people a day after I make it, I don’t add the pasta right away,” Wright said. Instead of cooking the starch in the broth according to recipe instructions, she stirs the pasta or grains into the soup as it cools down off heat. This way, the thirsty starches will cook as the soup is reheated.
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For food safety, let your soup cool down for about 20 minutes, until it’s no longer steaming, before dividing and freezing. Too-hot soup can lower the temperature of your freezer, which can make all the other food inside start to thaw.
Once you’re stocked up on soup, you might want it to be soup season year-round.
Casey Barber is a food writer, illustrator and photographer; the author of “Pierogi Love: New Takes on an Old-World Comfort Food” and “Classic Snacks Made from Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of Your Favorite Brand-Name Treats”; and editor of the website Good. Food. Stories.