With winter officially here, it’s time for warming soups, stews, chili and all sorts of cozy meals. There’s not much better at warding off the chill than a steaming bowl of soup with a nice hunk of bread to dredge up every single bite.
Lest you think homemade soups and stews are challenging, they’re actually not that hard to make, and with the right tools you can often toss everything in a pot and forget about it until it’s time for a savory, filling meal the whole family will enjoy. Read on for every tool you’ll need to up your game — and skip those wasteful cans — to make soups and stews at home.
Many soups and stews start with stock, whether beef, chicken or veggie. Making your own is super easy; you can use the leftovers from a rotisserie chicken or ends of vegetables you have around — making a stock is the perfect way to clean out your fridge. A stockpot is taller than normal pots, and the tall sides prevent the liquid from evaporating during the long cooking time.
Cuisinart 766-26 Chef’s Classic 12-Quart Stockpot With Cover ($86.69; amazon.com)
This well-priced stockpot has almost 1,000 5-star ratings from Amazon shoppers, and with good reason. Height- and width-wise, it’s the perfect size for most stoves, it has a nicely fitting lid and it’s dishwasher-safe.
Le Creuset Enameled Steel Stockpot, 10-Quart ($114.95, originally $145; surlatable.com)
This perfectly sized enameled stockpot will add a lot of flair to your kitchen. Available in five gorgeous colors, the enamel holds heat, and it’s super lightweight.
Mainstays 20-Quart Stockpot ($28.77; walmart.com)
Need something a little bigger? Great news! Our favorite large-format stockpot is also the best deal (it’s also available in smaller sizes). Reviewers love this pot’s cool grip handles, and the clear lid makes it easy to take a peek at your progress.
Another option for making stock easily? A slow cooker, and after you make your own stock, you can use this multitasker to turn meats, beans and root veggies into warm, soft morsels in a soup or stew.
Cuisinart 3-in-1 Cook Central Multicooker ($159.95; amazon.com)
Our top pick for slow cookers, according to our review, this Cuisinart gave us “perfectly cooked meals.” It’s dishwasher-friendly and lightweight, and once your meal is cooked, it automatically switches to warm mode.
Beautiful 8-Quart Slow Cooker, White Icing by Drew Barrymore ($44.96; walmart.com)
This recently launched, well-designed and well-priced slow cooker is an appliance you won’t want to hide, but it’s also built smart with cool handles, a dishwasher-safe ceramic insert and a lid rest so you won’t get your counter messy.
Sure, you may have a strainer or two handy, but if you’re going to get into making soups, investing in a chinois will up the quality. A chinois is a cone-shaped metal strainer with a very fine mesh that is also known as a china cap. It’s used for straining stocks, sauces, soups and other items that need to have a very smooth consistency.
U.S. Kitchen Supply Premium-Quality Extra-Fine Twill Mesh Stainless Steel Conical Strainers, 3-Pack ($10.99; amazon.com)
This top-rated set of strainers gives you not one, not two, but three strainers for a nice price. They all feature long handles, resting ears and a sturdy design.
Rösle Stainless Steel Conical Strainer ($34; amazon.com)
With over 1,300 5-star ratings from Amazon shoppers, you can trust this strainer that “will last a lifetime,” according to one reviewer. The size is perfect for most home cooks, but you can go up a size to 7.1 or 9.5 inches.
Many smooth and creamy soups will need to be blended after cooking, and while any blender will theoretically work, a power blender with a stronger motor will create the smoothest soups. You want to whip air into the mixture to create that light and fluffy texture, and look for a blender with a large pitcher so you aren’t blending in batches.
Breville Super Q ($471.01, originally $499.95; amazon.com)
We declared this the best blender of 2021, and it’s easy to see why. Not only is this bad boy great for purees, it also features a slew of preset buttons, comes in multiple colors, includes key accessories and is quieter than other models.
Ninja Professional Plus Blender With Auto-iQ ($89.99, originally $109.99; amazon.com)
Another one of our picks for 2021, our favorite budget blender does an admirable
job at blending up creamy soups and smoothies. This blender comes with a number of presets as well as low, medium and high manual settings.
If you want to make the process even easier, pick up an immersion blender (which is not the same as a hand mixer) that purees directly in the pot. No lifting a hot pot, and you can just pop off the blades to wash them when you’re done.
Breville Control Grip Immersion Blender ($119.99; bedbathandbeyond.com)
One of the key things to look for in an immersion blender is a good blade guard, as you want to avoid pulling the food into the blades and the bottom of your pot. This Breville model, while pricey, does this super well; plus, the rubber handle is easy to hold, the on switch is intuitive and it has 15 different settings.
All-Clad Electrics Hand Immersion Blender ($99.99, originally $180; wayfair.com)
We love this cord-free immersion blender for its ease of use — and storage. It tucks easily into a kitchen drawer, and while it doesn’t have quite the power of a plug-in model, it works well for occasional use. “A dream to use,” raves one 5-star reviewer. Need we say more?
Yes, you can use a spoon to transfer your soup to bowls, but if you want to avoid a messy counter, a ladle is a great option. Pro tip: Use your ladle to spoon pancake batter onto a griddle or anything else you need to transfer sans mess.
CucinaPrime Set of 4 Stainless Steel Soup Ladles ($21.99; amazon.com)
We love a set, and this one has you covered for pretty much any soup situation at a great price.
Ototo Nessie Ladle Spoon ($17; amazon.com)
If you’re into cute kitchen tools, we’ve got the ladle for you. Brighten up your day with this sweet green gal who will stand upright on your counter until you need her, and the heat-resistant material means you won’t accidentally burn your hands.
If you’re still trying to eat soup with the spoons that came with your basic silverware set, time to upgrade with spoons that have more depth — to deliver more soup or stew into your mouth. Yum.
Hiware 12-Piece Soup Spoons ($14.99, originally $15.99; amazon.com)
This restaurant-quality set of soup spoons won’t look out of place at most tables, and over 2,500 Amazon shoppers have given them 5 stars for scoopability and durability.
Dowan Ceramic Chinese Soup Spoons ($14.98, originally $17.95; amazon.com)
Another option we’re personally big fans of is Asian-style soup spoons that rest easily on the side of your bowl and have a deep but flat scoop that allow a scoop of broth and whatever chunks of meats and veggies are in your soup.
Harry & David Soup Gift Basket ($44.99; harryanddavid.com)
Send this to a family member who doesn’t cook as much, or just gift yourself with an assortment of soups, including chicken noodle, and yummy crackers.
Ivan Ramen Soup Kit for 4 ($139; goldbelly.com)
Craving broth with unbelievable depth with this bestselling combo pack of New York City-based Ivan Ramen’s legendary Tokyo Shio and Tokyo Shoyu ramen. You’ll get noodles, shoyu, soy reduction, soup broth and more.
Junior’s Matzo Ball Soup for 4 ($59; goldbelly.com)
Nothing is more soothing (and dare we say, healing) than a savory bowl of matzo ball soup. For the uninitiated, it’s a chicken broth soup with giant balls of crackers that fall apart into the soup. This version from Brooklyn’s beloved Junior’s will scratch that itch for homemade soup.