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Hearty soups for the cooler weather

As it starts to get colder out I’m putting a soup in my cooking routine. I love to make, and eat, almost types of soups, but what I’m looking for here are the heartier kinds of soups that can be stand alone meals with only a small accompaniment (like bread), if they need anything. I can do all of these:

Matzah ball
Clam chowder

For stand alone soups I tend to enjoy a clear or lighter broth such as the soups above. Even NE clam chowder I prefer a thinner, lighter broth. The list above is what I familiar with but I’m sure I’m forgetting, or I’m not in the know, of great hearty type soups. I’d love to hear peoples top five or so. Thanks.

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  1. My favorite hearty soups:

    Minestrone (from chow: http://www.chow.com/recipes/11482
    4-bean vegetarian chili
    Russian-style cabbage soup

    All of these work as meals (the minestrone goes great with a grilled cheese), or a filling first course.

    4 Replies
    1. re: corileigh

      Yep, see I can't hit them all! Minestrone. Good call, I love it. What is the Russian-style cabbage soup? I love cabbage, especially in soup. I'll google to check it out. If you can post a your recipe that would be great. Thanks!

      1. re: Rocky Road

        I'd definitely add pumpkin soup. The Russian style cabbage soup I favor is a homemade beef broth into which shaved cabbage is put just before serving, long enough to wilt it, and then it was topped with sourcream optionally flavored with ground caraway seeds. Corileigh, was yours similar? A great favorite is pasta in brodo, especially a stuffed pasta--a few tortellini or agnelotti or ravioli in broth are wonderful. And the fillings can be so varied. And most any kind of egg drop soup--Chinese or Italian--is a winner. And when eating out Chinese, don't miss a good sizzling rice soup. And, what? No French onion made properly? That one is hard to beat. But the secret in so many of these is the broth you start with.

        1. re: Father Kitchen

          Your Russian-style soup sounds a little similar to a filipino-style beef soup that I'm used to, except the sour cream. I didn't put it on my list because I don't even know the name- but I agree a good beef stock soup of probably any origin is going to be good. Also, agree it all depends on the broth. I make my own, sometime it comes out awesome, sometimes I miss, but it always seems to be better than any can or box I remember. Not to say I don't use those for other things from time to time, but when I make soup I try to make the broth as best I can.

        2. re: Rocky Road

          I usually start with pre-cut stew beef and a couple quarts of salted water. Skim the foam, and let it cook while you chop the vegetables. I saute carrots and onions in butter for extra flavor (this is what my Russian host-mom taught me). Once the meat has been simmering, throw in 4 or 5 potatoes, 1/2-inch dice or so, and the cabbage (a whole head, cored and sliced about 1/4-inch thick). Season with bouquet garni, or just some whole peppercorns, and fresh parsley and dill. The final touch is a small can of tomato paste. Garnish with fresh dill and sour cream. Surprisingly flavorful, especially the next day.

      2. Green bean, ham, and potato

        If you add tortellini to the minestrone instead of just small pasta, and small mealballs, it really makes it a one-dish meal.

        2 Replies
        1. re: nemo

          Agreed on the tortellini.

          Now, I have pretty bad memories of a ham & bean soup from my childhood. However, I do love ham & potatoes and I do like beans. What is the broth like in yours? Care to post your recipe?

          1. re: Rocky Road

            No recipe really. Sautee chopped onions. I use yellow potatoes, maybe about 4 cups cubed, and 1 cup or so of spoon size ham pieces. Cover with water and cook until the potatoes are almost done, then add green beans. Salt and pepper, and I put in saffron. I love the taste and it makes it very golden. In the dead of winter I have no problem with frozen haricot vert, snapped in half. If you want it thicker, scoop out some of the potatoes, puree them in a mini processor or a food mill or even just through a sieve. Do NOT freeze. Learned the hard way that potatoes frozen in soup or stew come out like soggy cotton balls!

            The broth is very mild. If I have ham broth, I use it, but I find that water is fine.

            Sorry you're steering clear of bean soups. They're so cheap and versatile. Do you like black beans or chick peas? Maybe someone has a black bean and corn soup recipe with Mexican seasonings, or just cook some cauliflower in chicken broth, add some chic peas and spinach, season with curry and extra cumin.

            Thanks for starting this thread. I love soup and it's definitely time to find a new recipe to try.

        2. Someone very nice posted an Asian Sweet Potato soup on this board in '06 or '07 ... wish I could find the exact recipe...all I have are notes...I made it and LOVED it...it has jalapenos, fish sauce, ginger, etc. Have been trying to find it...will try again...I really don't like the search function on this site.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Val

            I was intrigued by that soup so I Googled it. Most look like a bisque or something. Except for this one. It may be different from the one you saw, but this one sounds great. I'd never heard of it. Thanks.


          2. We just kicked off the soup season with African peanut soup-- at least the version that I've come up with. It looks to be a staple in several African countries, and I'm sure I can't come close to what they do, so I wing it.

            It looked something like this-- saute a small diced yellow onion and a couple cloves of garlic. Add a few cups of fresh tomato sauce (no seasoning other than salt). Cook the mix down till it's nearly a paste. Add a tablespoon or two of tomato paste. Add a generous teaspoon of harissa. Cook a smidge more, add a generous cup of natural peanut butter. When it's mixed in, add a quart of chicken broth. While that simmers, brown some small chunks of chicken thigh (flour, salt, pepper). Add those to the soup. Taste for seasoning, adding more harissa and sriracha for heat and acid. Maybe more tomato paste. When you've got it where you want it, add some fresh spinach to wilt in the soup, and plate immediately. Serve over brown rice. Roasted sweet potato would also be good.

            It's really quite good, and very filling. I think the spinach is fantastic in it. Chard would be good too.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Vetter

              Wow, another new one for me. What a list of great ingredients. However, I'm having a little problem with the peanut butter addition. I can't envision the fit. Is it a strong peanut butter taste or does the tomato sauce dominate? Which is the stronger taste. I'm almost certain the soup is good, and exactly what I'm looking for in broth types and ingredients, I'm just so unfamiliar with this one. Will put in on the list to try.

              1. re: Rocky Road

                The peanut flavor does define the dish. I think the acidity of the tomatoes and heat keep it from being cloying. If you like thai peanut sauce on spinach, you'll like this. If you don't, it would be an acquired taste. But it's really very good and a cinch to put together.

                The next time I make it, I'm going to try grating in just a smidge of fresh ginger.

                1. re: Vetter

                  I didn't see this response until now. You know actually I really don't like the Thai peanut sauce. Maybe, I'm just not with it. I'm really sort of one dimensional with peanut/peanut butter. I love peanuts at the ballpark, and I like an occasional PB&J. You soup does have some great other flavors though. It'll be down on my list, but I will try it. Thanks for coming back to answer the question.

            2. French Onion Soup
              Hazan's Tomato/Chickpea/Rosemary soup with rice or pasta - one of my all time favorites.

              2 Replies
              1. re: MMRuth

                Yep, French Onion is on the list. Hazan's looks good, especially I think with rice added. Thanks!

                1. re: MMRuth

                  MMRuth, have you tried Hazan's minestra tricolore in Essentials of Italian Cooking? I've been toying with making it for the past week,and was wondering if anyone else had tried it and enjoyed it.

                2. Curried Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
                  Split Pea with Ham Soup
                  Cabbage/Apple/Kielbasa Soup
                  Fish Chowder
                  Corn Chowder
                  and Kitchen Sink Soup: canned crushed tomato, homemade or canned chicken stock/broth,
                  sausage, whatever veggies are around, onion, garlic, wild rice, brown rice or orzo, canned beans, cheese rind/grated cheese, dried mushrooms, dashes/splashes of any or all of the following to taste: Old Bay, sugar, fish sauce, teriyaki/soy sauce, gravy master, truffle oil, balsamic. Never the same twice, but always hearty and good!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: greygarious

                    Yeah grey,

                    I do a lot of versions of the kitchen sink soup. Agreed. Always different, always good, especially if I've got the frozen homemade stock. Those are my quickies. However, I do like the thoughtful soups more. I feel better, and it seems to taste great, when I've planned, made the stock, gotten the right ingredients, accouterments, etc.

                    Fish and corn chowder definitely need to be on my list. Ham & split pea, well, childhood issues again with this. The other two, I need to google but sound great.

                    As, I've looked at everyones responses (which I'm grateful for) I also thought of three more that should be on my list:

                    Italian Wedding soup
                    Tortilla soup
                    Chicken noodle

                    Hope people keep posting. I'm building quite a list and am especially excited about those I've never heard of, or I have heard of but never tried or made.

                    1. re: Rocky Road

                      The curried butternut squash soup, which has apples, onions, chicken stock, and cream, was from Marcia Adams (sp?) old TV series, Amish Cooking from Quilt Country. I assume it's online somewhere.

                      No real recipe on the cabbage one. Brown bite-sized kielbasa pieces to get a good fond in the pot, add onion, and garlic if you want, and stir till the fond dissolves, add chicken stock and wild rice. After simmering 20 min, add shredded cabbage, diced apple, (optional diced carrot and celery), simmer another 20 or so, till rice is done. Taste for seasoning - needs a little pepper but usually not salt.

                  2. Last week I made a double batch of Mushroom/Barley soup (recipe from Joy of Cooking). I doctor it a bit to our tastes and it serves as a major cold weather comfort food around here.

                    1. Corn potato chowder;
                      Ham and 7 bean soup;
                      Senate bean soup;
                      beef vegetable barley;
                      squash soup;
                      chicken noodle;
                      homemade mushrooms soup;
                      cream of broccoli;
                      cauliflower cheddar;
                      baked potato;
                      black bean;
                      chicken tortilla;
                      chicken poblano chowder;
                      tamale soup; and
                      minestrone w/or w/o Italian sausage.

                      Yes, I went overboard, but oh how I love soup!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: FoodChic

                        I love it too!

                        A lot of these we've covered or similar versions but appreciate the list. It's a good one. I can't believe chicken noodle was not brought up before now! A classic and needs to be on my list. Vegetable barley, as Ellen said above, goes on my list, as does gumbo.

                        Tamale soup? Interesting. Never heard of it, so I'll have to google, but sounds like a winner to me. Thanks for chiming in.

                        1. re: FoodChic

                          Oh, yes, that Senate Bean Soup is wonderful. Then, there are the joys of Scotch broth and Mulligatawny.

                        2. My favorites lately are:
                          Pasta e Fagioli (I love Giada's but I also add a nice healthy sausage to mine)

                          I also love a great roasted vegie soup and it's just roasted vegies, garlic, etc. (diff kinds w/ herbs too) blended with chix stock.

                          we just came from a soup bowl fundraiser and got some great ideas too: tomato and smokey bacon, 16 bean soup, creamy onion, italian wedding, southwester chix tostido.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: lexpatti

                            Pasta e Fagioli. Nice. Added to my list.

                          2. Minestrone
                            Yellow lentil soup (fried onions and a dash of curry, then vermicelli added in at the end)
                            Black lentil soup (with some kind of smoked veg. meat substitute)
                            Split pea soup (green)
                            Plain broth with a potato dumpling type of soup
                            Black bean soup
                            Miso soup

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: BamiaWruz

                              You know, I'm really going to have to really rethink my aversion to bean, pea, and lentil soups. They have come up a lot in this thread and I know it's been a while since I've made, ordered, or even desired a soup like that. I'm pretty ignorant on the lentil thing, but I think of pea soup as a creamier type soup, which is fine, I love creamy soups as well as thinner broth soups. Of course, I love Miso soup but I've never experienced that as a hearty soup. I've always seen it as an accompaniment to the meal. Thanks for making me re-evaluate my weird aversions and do some research on these soups.

                              1. re: Rocky Road

                                Please do revisit your aversion to beans and lentils -- they make among the best and most hearty soups of the winter!

                                1. re: what I want

                                  My DH is the same way, he won't touch my bean soups. I can't get him to really enjoy them. One of my favorite is a seven bean soup with my leftover Thanksgiving ham bone! I look forward to that as much as my holiday bird. Sadly, it's all for me and any guests we might have...I end up freezing about half.

                            2. Ribollita
                              This soup is a favorite when the weather turns cold. It's a hearty Italian soup, similar to minestrone in that you use onion, herbs, beans, carrot/celery etc, but it is then thickened with bread, typically ciabatta but I've mixed it up with whole wheat breads too. You use stale bread and tear it into the soup near the end to thicken it and finish it with a nice oilve oil.
                              My favorite version is using a nice slab of toasted, or better yet, grilled bread which you rub with a garlic clove and then place in a bowl, ladling the hot broth and soup over the bread.
                              This breaks down and adds a lot of flavor.
                              The River Cafe book has a nice version, and you can pretty much use whatever veggies you have on hand, the beauty of soup, IMHO. The cavolo nero kale is preferred but any kale will do.
                              May need to make this tomorrow!

                              eta: Just realised the whole bean aversion, but really this is diffferent than a bean style soup, generally you use cannellini or borlotti beans, and they add a nice, almost sweet aspect and lovely texture. This time of year you may even find some fresh to shell and cook yourself.
                              Try Ranch Gordos beans and see if you don't feel differently about all sorts of beans. Really good stuff. Ranchogordo.com, I think.

                              1. Assuming given your soup preference that you have mastered your own stock making. Therefore, here's what I do with my homemade chicken stock (made with chicken wings, onion, celery, parsley, carrot and peppercorns - drained and wings reserved to pick meat off when cool)
                                Saute leek in pot, add stock, chopped 1 carrot, one celery stick (finely) and add to pot, bring to boil then reduce to simmer until carrot is cooked, add 1 tin butter beans (and allow to heat through) and any chicken meat you reserved. Salt to taste and serve with; chopped parsley, cracked pepper, shaved parmesan (all on the side - most important that individuals add these to taste) and good quality sour dough.

                                Chicken and corn soup.

                                Saute finely diced onion, add stock, peel and cube one large sebago potato (or other fluffy variety suited to mashing) and add to pot bring to boil and cook until falling apart on fork. Add corn and reserved chicken meat allow to heat through and then blend before serving.

                                I love this soup because you get the lightness of chicken and corn soup but the addition of one potato gives it just the right texture to lift it into a hearty meal all on its own.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: irisav

                                  I do make my own stock yes. Mastered...I would not say that. I would say I'm proficient (LOL) sometimes it's great, sometimes I miss. But I've made, and remade, all the soups in my original post so that I can say, I think, I've tasted it with my best stock. Your soup sounds delicious and has been added to my list. Thanks for the input.

                                  I also like your description:

                                  "...the lightness of chicken and corn soup but the addition of one potato gives it just the right texture to lift it into a hearty meal all on its own."

                                  Exactly the types of soup, I'm looking for.

                                  1. re: Rocky Road

                                    Yes making a great stock is certainly very different from making a stock. My most frequent mistake is leaving the lid on as it simmers, I'm not sure why but leaving the lid seems to yield a very cloudy looking stock with a significant scum on top.

                                    But I'm inclined to believe that any stock I make at home is better than any I can get off the shelf at the supermarket.

                                2. I love the following list

                                  puree of squas, carmelized onions & pears
                                  borscht from Silver Palate (has ground beef in it)
                                  homemade chicken soup with vegetables & pasta
                                  wild mushroom with madeira (Silver Palate New Basics)
                                  matzo ball soup - I don't have a good recipe. Does anyone have one?

                                  1. There's a simple recipe for nice, tender soup dumplings on the side of the Cream of Wheat box. You drop them by heaping tablespoons (or shape as quenelles if you are fussier) into chicken soup or any other thinner soup. They float when done. They are a nice change from noodles, and look like they were more effort than they are.

                                    1. I just added a new one to my repertoire last week: Caldo verde. It's a Portuguese soup that uses collard greens. I blogged about it here: http://northsidefood.blogspot.com/200...

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: northside food

                                        I second the caldo verde. Get some good chourico and linguica and cook with kale, onions and potatoes. I add some cannelini beans (which is not traditional) for a little more nutrition and it make a meal. I love it and it is very easy.

                                      2. 1. Posole with some shredded cabbage on top; a squeeze of lime and tortillas on the side
                                        2. Ox-tail soup with rice
                                        3. Dumpling soup; just a light fish broth with dumplings and an egg, some scallions
                                        4. Asparagus (light cream, mostly chicken broth, pureed)
                                        5. my favorite to eat (but I have NO idea how to cook; recipes, anybody?) --> bouillabaisse

                                        1. Let me third caldo verde, or its New England variant, kale soup. Kale soup is as much a part of southeastern New England as chowder.

                                          1. Have you ever looked at the Culinary Insitute of America's "Book of Soups"? It has a bunch of great recipes. Two I love are the Minnesota Wild Rice Soup and a spicy chard, beans, chickpeas and harissa one. I won't post the latter since you are not into beans but here is the wild rice one which is GREAT. Ingredients as published, directions paraphrased:

                                            2 T. butter
                                            3 carrots, finely diced
                                            2 celery stalks, finely diced
                                            2 leeks, white and light green parts, finely diced
                                            2 quarts chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
                                            1 1/4 cups wild rice, rinsed
                                            salt and pepper
                                            3/4 cup heavy cream [I use much less, maybe 1/4 cup]
                                            3 T. dry sherry

                                            Saute first 4 ingredients until soft, add stock and bring to simmer, add wild rice and a ;inch of salt and cook gently about 45-60 minutes until rice is tender but still a bit chewy. Put some of the wild rice and stock in a blender and pour it back and keep doing that until the soup has the consistency you like (or use a stick blender but be careful not to overdo it, you just want to thicken things slightly but still have mostly identifiable wild rice). Add sherry and cream and check seasoning. Yum!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: GretchenS

                                              I've never seen that book. Oddly, I'm sort of one of those that get a lot of recipes off the Internet, but I do love cookbooks. Actually, it's really not odd, they seem to be very expensive and I always look at them with longing in the store, then think how much I need that $15-30 elsewhere. Thanks for the recipe.

                                            2. I like a bowl of roast butternut squash and sunflower seed soup to warm me up at night.. Let me know if you want my recipie written out.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. I just made a big pot of minestrone, partially because of this post but also because I am always trying to clean out my fridge. (I think I've actually figured out a good system for that. Soup and frittata every week, works wonders!).
                                                I loosely followed a recipe out of Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey, a great book that I've really enjoyed leafing through. Hopefully it will be a COTM one of these days.
                                                I used whatever I had on hand, zebra green beans, frozen cranberry beans, a bunch of kale, and an assortment of teeny red onions and shallots instead of the one white onion called for.
                                                I was not going to the store today! Use it up or lose it!
                                                It is just finishing up now, hope it's as good as the last batch I made a few weeks ago.
                                                Also, I used up two quarts of homemade chicken stock instead of using water, I think this adds a lot to the flavor and makes me think I am staving off colds for us.
                                                Oops! Almost forgot the parmesan rind, just threw it in.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: rabaja

                                                  Glad to see this post made someone make some soup! Nice. I know that happens to me. I'll start reading some post and wham, if I've got the ingredients I'm making it.

                                                  I know I'm getting a great list of soups that I can use for this, and next, winter. I'm a list person. If I want to make as soup in the future it's this list I'll be referring to. And I have this page bookmarked so I can get back to all the recipes I want to try. This is a nice set up. Thanks everyone for participating.

                                                2. My hands-down favorite is Rick Tramonto's White Bean, Sausage, and Escarole Stew. It's more soupy than stew, with a chicken broth base. If it stays cool, I may have to make it this weekend. And I always have to make a triple batch because so many people want some.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: lisavf

                                                    On behalf of expat Filipinos, I would like to add Sinigang to the list. The different varieties can be made with beef, shrimp or fish, but the classic is pork. I prefer country style ribs, the more bones, the better the broth. Add potatoes and green beans if you want and the cabbage at the end The broth flavored with tamarind powder is a sure cold beater. A dash of fish sauce brings it all together. This is the simple version and my family members have been known to throw other veggies in the pot while I wasn't looking... but that's the great thing about soup.

                                                    I also vote for oryza's ox tail soup with rice ... oh my.

                                                    1. re: fresnohotspot

                                                      Agreed. Sinigang needs to be on the list. Nice call.

                                                  2. We love soup, and it's definitely that time of year. Some of our favorites:

                                                    Ellie Krieger's Nutty Sweet Potato Soup (search the food network site)-very rich and creamy and actually pretty healthy.

                                                    White Chicken Chili: http://familyslowfood.blogspot.com/20...

                                                    The Cooks Illustrated Recipe for chicken soup

                                                    Lentil and Brown Rice Soup, simple, cheap and healthy, and really good: http://familyslowfood.blogspot.com/20...