Warm Winter Soups for All Ages

The recipe for a cozy winter begins with a pot of soup.

You’ll also want to throw in hot drinks, a quilt, favorite books and movies. The snuggling and warmth of winter is what makes it bearable – or wonderful – depending on your perspective.

We all instinctively teach our children about the rhythms of the year by following the traditions of the seasons. But, once Christmas has passed, it can be difficult to show and share the beauty of winter with children. Snow days are one way, of course. But when it’s blistery cold and we’re spending most of our time indoors, it’s nice to find ways to bring joy to winter. For me, it starts with food.

My children and I spend many winter days in the kitchen, making everything from cookies to homemade play dough. They beg for their turn to stir the batter, and I fill their mugs with cocoa and spiced tea.

Often, the best part of a busy day with moms and dads at work and kids at school is when everyone is back home. Start a fire, let the big kids set the table and the little ones butter the bread, and ladle warm soup into bowls. It’s those small comforts that mean so much and make memories for children.

Here are some of my favorite soup recipes.

A sweet friend, Nadia Rosales, shared this simple soup recipe with me years ago. She says each time you make it, consider how much money you’re saving with this inexpensive dinner. Then, send $15, or whatever you think the savings is, to a charity that helps the hungry or needy. Be sure to involve the children in figuring how much you saved and to whom you will give.

Hopeful Bean Soup

1 bag black beans
1 whole medium onion
3 cloves garlic
1 cup rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Parmesan cheese or limes

  1. Rinse beans, and cover with water overnight.
  2. Follow instructions for cooking beans on the back of the bag. Then, 35 minutes before the beans are cooked, add the onion and garlic. Cover, and continue cooking.
  3. In a different pot, bring 2 cups water and 1 cup rice to a boil. Cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until all the water has evaporated. Do not stir.
  4. Fifteen minutes before the beans are ready, add olive oil. When beans are completely cooked, add salt, and stir.
  5. Serve rice and beans in bowls, and add cheese or lime juice, as desired.

This soup is perfect for babies as young as 6 months. If the baby is 12 months or older, you can use low-sodium broth in place of the water. This recipe, from “Weaning and First Foods” by Nicola Graimes, makes enough for two children and two adults.

Pea Soup

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 leek, finely sliced
1 stick celery, finely chopped
2 Yukon gold or white round potatoes, diced
4 cups water
2 cups frozen peas

  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the leek, and saute over medium heat for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the celery and potato, and cook for another 5 minutes.
  2. Pour the water over the vegetables, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer the soup for 15 minutes. Add the peas, and cook for another 5 minutes or until the potato is tender.
  3. Using a handheld blender or food processor, blend the soup until smooth. Reheat the soup, if necessary, before serving. For the adult servings, season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  4. Note: This soup freezes well for up to 3 months. You can freeze in convenient child-size portions.

I’ve never actually made this soup. But I’ve eaten it plenty of times when my mom makes it and shares with me. It’s great for dinner or for people who like heartier soups.

Stuffed Pepper Soup

* Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5-ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (32-ounce) carton beef broth
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup uncooked long grain white or brown rice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

  1. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and ground beef, breaking the meat apart with a wooden spoon. Cook until browned and mostly cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the onion, bell peppers and garlic, and saute until tender, about 5 more minutes.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, beef broth, basil, oregano, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Then, lower the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. While the soup is simmering, cook the rice according to the package directions.  Stir the parsley into the soup.
  5. To serve, divide rice among bowls, then ladle soup into each bowl.

We like this lightened-up version of potato soup, adapted from Cooking Light magazine.

Baked Potato Soup

4 baking potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups (2 percent reduced-fat) milk
1 1/4 cup (4 ounces) reduced-fat shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
3/4 cup chopped green onions, divided
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Pierce potatoes with a fork; bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour or until tender. Cool. Peel potatoes; coarsely mash.
  3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Place flour in a large Dutch oven; gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly (about 8 minutes). Add mashed potatoes, 1 1/4 cup cheese, salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, stirring until cheese melts. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in sour cream and 1/2 cup onions. Cook over low heat 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated (do not boil). Ladle 1 1/2 cups soup into each of 8 bowls. Sprinkle each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons onions and about 1 tablespoon bacon. Garnish with cracked pepper, if desired.

Categories: Food