The holidays are over. No more social gatherings and parties. Life is slowly getting back to normal. And the colder, winter months have arrived. Winters in Charleston are nothing to complain about – the average high in January hovers around 60 degrees. But, when temperatures drop, and the heater kicks on, nothing is more comforting than a bowl of soup. There’s something about it that makes you feel like you’re being wrapped in a warm, cozy blanket. Here are three delicious and easy-to-make soup recipes to keep you warm this winter.
Soup Recipes to Keep You Warm This Winter
Chicken and Orzo Soup
During the workweek, this chicken and orzo soup is one of my go-to meals because I can get it on the table in about 15 minutes. Most likely, you’ll have most of the ingredients in your pantry and fridge. Pick up a rotisserie chicken on the way home from work to make things easier on yourself. That way, you don’t have to worry about cooking the chicken AND making the soup. I’m all about shortcuts Monday through Friday because my tank is usually close to empty when I get home. Also, you can substitute the orzo for any short pasta, like egg noodles, if you want to change things up a bit. Serve this up with a baguette, and you have a quick, easy, and delicious meal.
- 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded – OR – 3 cooked and shredded chicken breasts
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup orzo
- granulated chicken bouillon to taste
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
In a large stockpot, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and saute the onion, carrot, and celery until translucent.
Add 8 cups of chicken stock to the pot.
Add the orzo and cook the pasta until it’s al dente.
Once cooked, add the shredded / diced chicken.
After you add the chicken, depending on how brothy you like your soup, you may want to add more. Also, this is where I like to taste the broth and see if / how much chicken bouillon I need to add.
Add the thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Creamy Butternut Squash Soup
This creamy butternut squash soup screams “cold weather buster” to me. Something about the thickness of the soup gives it a hearty feel – like it will stay with you for a while. Butternut squash is hard to cut through. So, I like to buy the squash that’s already cleaned and chopped. For this particular recipe, you’ll need the two pound container. This soup makes a delicious first course – or pair it with a salad for a filling lunch or dinner.
- 2 lbs diced butternut squash
- 1 medium onion, sliced into 1/2 ” rings
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1/4 cup white wine (I used sauvignon blanc)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup half and half
Preheat the oven to 450.
Put the butternut squash and onion on a sheet pan and toss with olive oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper and mix it all around. I like to use my hands for this step. Place veggies in the oven and roast for 25 – 30 minutes until they’re soft and have some brown edges.
Transfer the cooked veggies to a dutch oven and add 1 tsp of olive oil. Stir to coat, cover and cook for 3 – 5 minutes on medium-low until the veggies are really soft.
Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Then, stir in the wine and bay leaf for about 1 minute.
Add the broths. Bring to a boil. Then, bring down the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf.
Blend the soup with a hand blender, or use a traditional blender. If you’re using a traditional blender, it’s best to blend in batches, so you don’t get soup everywhere.
Add the half and half a bit at a time to get the level of “creaminess” you want. I usually don’t use the entire 1/2 cup. But it depends on what you like. You can always add more, but you can’t take it away.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
When I make chicken tortilla soup, I prefer the more traditional broth-based version as opposed to the creamier, Tex-Mex version. To me, the broth-based version is lighter, and you can really taste the fresh ingredients. But they are both delicious. For this particular recipe, I like to top the soup with some grated Monterey jack cheese, chips, and of course – avocado. Everything tastes better with avocado on top, don’t you think? Serve it up with a batch of red wine sangria, and you’ll be happy and warm inside all night long.
- 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded OR 3 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
- olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 can Rotel
- 8 cups chicken broth
- granulated chicken bouillon (my favorite brand is Knorr’s)
- 2-3 tbsp minced cilantro
- crumbled tortilla chips
- shredded Monterrey jack cheese
- avocado slices
- cilantro leaves
Shred the rotisserie chicken or the cooked chicken breasts. Set aside.
Open the can of Rotel and separate the tomatoes/peppers and juice into two separate bowls. Set aside.
Dice the small onion and begin sauteing in a large Dutch oven with a few swirls of olive oil and the cumin. You want to start sweating out the onions; you don’t want to brown them. Although a little caramelization is tasty. About 2 – 3 minutes.
Once the onions are translucent, add the tomatoes and peppers from the can of Rotel to the pot. Saute for about 2 – 3 minutes.
Now, add the 8 cups of chicken broth and tomato juice from the can of Rotel. Stir.
Next, you’ll need to TASTE the broth and decide how much of the chicken bouillon granules you want to add. Typically, I’ll add 1 – 2 tablespoons to taste to ensure my broth tastes like chicken broth and not slightly chicken-flavored water.
Add the shredded chicken and the minced cilantro to the broth. Remember – the cilantro is optional. Especially if you’re one of those people who thinks cilantro tastes like soap.
When you serve the soup, be sure to add the crumbled tortilla chips to make it an authentic “chicken tortilla soup.” I love adding the Monterrey jack cheese and avocado to mine. You can even add more cilantro leaves if you’re a cilantro fan.