Winter is here and soup season is in full swing. These recipes include some classics as well as new flavor combinations that are on-trend and hearty for winter meals. Ingredients like quinoa can be substituted with other grains like brown rice or farro. Green or brown lentils can be used in place of red lentils, and coconut milk can be swapped for dairy or nondairy milk or almond milk. I make most of these pareve so that I can serve them as a first course with any dinner and often double them so that there are leftovers for lunch.

Vegetable Soup with Quinoa

Serves 4 - 6

Use lots of great fresh vegetables and a good quality vegetable broth or pareve chicken broth in this recipe.

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 to 2 cups chopped seasonal vegetables, like zucchini, yellow squash, bell pepper, sweet potatoes or butternut squash
  • 6 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 large can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can (15 ounces) great northern beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup chopped fresh kale or spinach, tough ribs removed
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice, to taste

Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, seasonal vegetables and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onion has softened and is turning translucent, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the garlic and thyme. Cook until fragrant while stirring frequently, about 1 minute. Pour in the diced tomatoes with their juices and cook for a few more minutes, stirring often.

Pour in the quinoa, broth and the water. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 2 bay leaves and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper. Raise heat and bring the mixture to a boil, then partially cover the pot and reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer.

Cook for 25 minutes, then remove the lid and add the beans and kale. Continue simmering for 5 minutes or more, until the greens have softened to your liking.

Remove the pot from heat, then remove the bay leaves. Stir in 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Taste and season with more salt if needed.

Crock Pot Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup 

Serves 5

I like to roast the squash in the oven before adding it to the slow cooker. It deepens the flavors, but if you prefer, just add it all to the crock pot. I place the immersion blender directly in the crock pot and puree until it's smooth. The squash and sweet potato make a hearty and rich soup filled with lots of vitamins.

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced large
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced large
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced medium
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 4 1/4 to 8 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock (use 4 1/4 cups for thicker soup, 8 1/2 for thinner soup)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350º F. Place the butternut squash and sweet potato in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until partially cooked, about 30 minutes. (You can skip this step and add it to the soup raw if you prefer, but the soup may need a longer slow cook time.)

Transfer the butternut squash and sweet potato to a slow cooker. Add the potatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, and desired amount of stock. Cover and cook on the HIGH setting for 3 hours or on the LOW setting for 8 hours.

Add salt and pepper and blend the soup directly in the slow cooker with an immersion blender for a thick soup.

Really Good Lentil Soup with Greens

 

Photo by Joe Lingeman

Serves 4 - 6

I like the addition of curry and cumin to this otherwise classic soup. The greens add a bit more vitamins and iron. Serve with some great bread for dunking.

  • 2 cups dried red lentils (about 1 pound)
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 5 cups baby spinach (about 5 ounces)

Place 2 cups dried red lentils (about 1 pound) in a fine-mesh strainer. Rinse under cool water until the water runs clear, about 1 minute. Set aside to drain while you cook the vegetables.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the carrots and onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, curry powder, cumin, thyme, and kosher salt. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the lentils, tomato sauce, and broth, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally until the lentils are tender, 18 to 22 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in 5 cups spinach until wilted. Serve immediately.

Meatballs, Orzo and Spinach Soup

 

Serves 5

This is a meal in a bowl with a light and flavorful broth. Use ground turkey or chicken in the meatballs. The broth is too light for ground beef, but I like keeping this a bit healthier anyway.

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • 12 ounces ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 8 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup chopped peeled carrots
  • 1 tablespoon white miso
  • 3/4 cup (about 4.75 ounces or 135 grams) orzo (rice-shaped pasta)

4 cups coarsely chopped spinach or kale (or bok choy, swiss chard or greens of your choice, about 3 ounces of leaves)

Make meatballs: Whisk egg and 2 tablespoons of water in a medium bowl to blend. Mix in breadcrumbs; let stand one minute. Add turkey, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper; gently stir to blend. Using wet hands, shape turkey mixture into 1 1/4-inch-diameter meatballs. Place on a baking sheet; chill while you prepare the next steps, or 30 minutes.

Assemble the soup: Bring chicken broth to a boil in a large (4 to 5-quart) pot. Add carrots and orzo; reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered 8 minutes. Add turkey meatballs and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in chopped greens and simmer until turkey meatballs, orzo, and kale are tender, about 5 minutes longer. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls and serve.

Updated Cream of Mushroom Soup

 

Serves 5

Use coconut milk, almond milk, dairy or non-dairy creamer in this soup. I serve it with garlic bread or toasted Artisan bread like ciabatta.

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons margarine
  • 6 cups wild mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4-6 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk, almond milk or non-dairy creamer (or dairy)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the shallots and garlic, cook until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper. Cook undisturbed for 5 minutes or until golden, stir and continue cooking until the mushrooms have caramelized, 3-5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the margarine, sage, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until very fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the balsamic vinegar. Spoon out a handful of the mushrooms for topping, if desired. Add the 4 cups broth, season with salt and pepper.

With an immersion blender, puree most of the soup, leaving some a bit chunky or coarsely chopped for texture but most smooth. Stir in the coconut milk and pulse until smooth and creamy. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Simmer the soup for 5-10 minutes until warmed through, adding the additional 1-2 cups broth as needed to thin if necessary.