Soup's On

These meals ward off winter's chill.

Image by Rachel Johnson

January is National Soup Month, and this soup and chili are sure to keep you warm during the winter season. Dutch ovens and slow cookers are ideal for letting soups and stews simmer for a long time, especially while you’re out braving the snow and ice. Such heavy-duty cookware works well, because it withstands high temperatures and distributes heat evenly. Don’t worry if you only have a large cooking pot, though. These recipes will still turn out great.

Spicy Slow Cooker Butternut Squash and Beef Chili:

Although uncommon in chili recipes, squash and pumpkin create an incredible accompaniment to rich, stewed beef. Cubed beef stew meat and ground chuck are both included in this recipe for texture, but feel free to use all ground chuck, if you prefer. Serves: 8

1 pound ground chuck

1 pound cubed stew meat

1 white onion, roughly chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed

2 cups hot salsa

1 3½-ounce can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

1 12-ounce beer (Guinness or other dark lager)

1 cup water

1 15½-ounce can pumpkin puree

Toppings such as avocado slices, sour cream, jalapeños, etc.

1. In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown ground chuck and stew meat.

2. In a large slow cooker, combine all ingredients except pumpkin puree and toppings. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours, until squash is tender and vegetables are cooked.

3. 15 minutes before serving, stir in pumpkin puree and heat through. Add more water if soup is too thick. Enjoy with toppings and serve with cornbread, if desired.

To make without a slow cooker: In a large pot, brown meat and sauté onions and bell pepper. Roughly chop chipotle peppers and add to pot. Add squash, beer, salsa and water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 hour, or until slightly thickened. Add pumpkin 15 minutes before serving and heat through.

Dutch Oven Cajun-Inspired Soup With Sausage and Greens:

This comforting recipe takes inspiration from New Orleans cuisine, but differs from roux-heavy soups by including nutrient-rich winter greens and sausage. Use whatever you have on hand in the garden or stowed away in the freezer. This soup is forgiving, so you can improvise however you’d like. Serves: 6

12 ounces andouille sausage, sliced

1 medium white onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1green bell pepper, chopped

2 stalks celery, diced

1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning

2 cups chicken stock

2 cups water

2 cups roughly chopped greens, such as Swiss chard or kale

Salt,and pepper, to taste

Cooked rice, for serving

1. Heat a Dutch oven (or large pot) over medium heat. Sauté slices of andouille until browned. Place it on a paper-towel lined plate. Set aside.

2. Sauté onions in remaining sausage drippings until slightly translucent. Add garlic, peppers, and celery. Cook until slightly tender. Add Cajun seasoning, stirring to coat all vegetables.

3. Add chicken stock and water and bring to a simmer, uncovered. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through. If you haven’t already, make rice according to package directions.

4. Turn off heat. Stir in sausage and greens, letting the greens wilt slightly. Serve hot soup over rice.


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