When the days start getting shorter and the Game of Thrones tagline has started playing in your mind, there’s one thing to do: pull out your Dutch oven (or your 8-quart pot) and start making some cozy soups and stews.
Here are a few tips for making great soups and stews (and keeping your freezer stocks for nights you just don’t want to cook):
- Invest in freezer-safe single-serving storage containers: Rather than eat the same soup or stew day in and day out until you’re completely sick of it, consider investing in single-serving containers. Freeze half the batch (or an entire extra batch) so you can mix up your meals as you like. Pro-tip: Use masking tape and a permanent marker to label the containers with their contents and day you cooked. Make sure to eat them within 3 months.
- Keep your pantry, fridge, and freezer stocked with filling add-ins: Cooked grains, filled pasta like ravioli and tortellini, little pasta shapes like ditalini, and cans of beans can stretch a batch of soup further. A brothy vegetable soup can taste totally new with a package of cheese tortellini stirred in.
- Consider helpful appliances: The slow cooker, pressure cooker, and blender can be your friend. A slow cooker can make a soup or stew with minimal effort, the pressure cooker cuts down on time, and a blender can transform a pot of cooked vegetables into the silkiest soup.
- Double up, if you can: If you have a big enough pot, doubling the recipe is worth your while. Freeze half and your future self will thank you.
5 types of cozy soups and stews to get you through the winter
- A great vegetable soup: There’s something about the format of the soup that makes eating a bowlful of veggies so much more appealing. Though it’s not strictly necessary to use a recipe for vegetable soup, getting the proportions just right can be worth the work. This recipe for Vegetable Soup from The New York Times packs 10 vegetables (and herbs) into a bowl. Use it as a template for your own riffs or stick to the recipe and enhance leftovers with a spoonful of cooked grains and a generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
- A cozy chicken soup: Though chicken noodle will always have a place in our hearts, it’s worth branching out from the same old bowl. The Kitchn’s recipe for Creamy Chicken Potato Soup gets its creaminess from whole milk (plus the starch from simmered potatoes) and is ideal for cold winter nights. Or if you want a truly next-level take on chicken soup, try Delish’s Chicken Parm Soup recipe, which features a generous amount of melted mozzarella.
- A tomato soup worth the dunk: People often focus on the grilled cheese and forget that the soup is just as crucial. Jake Cohen’s tomato soup features both cherry tomatoes and canned tomatoes, plus a sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes for spice and ground sumac for a pop of tartness. For the garlic-crazed, try Food52’s Tomato Soup With a Whole Head of Garlic (and cancel any dates).
- A brothy bowl of phở: The Vietnamese soup phở features rice noodles, broth, slices of meat, and herbs. You’re likely to find versions with chicken or beef, as well as vegan takes using tofu. Toppings vary depending on the type of pho, but can include bean sprouts, basil, cilantro, and fermented bean and chili sauce. Chef Andrea Nguyen is known for her variations on the dish (she wrote an entire cookbook about the dish). Get started with her Vegan “Chicken” Phở or Instant Pot Chicken Pho.
- An over-the-top French onion soup: Yes, making a truly great French onion soup takes hours, but what else have you got to do in the winter? It’s key to let the onions completely caramelize, which means leaving them to slowly cook down for over an hour. But, let’s be honest, it’s not the broth that’s the main event, but rather the gruyère cheese-topped garlicky toast that floats on top of each bowl. Why’s it worth making at home? Well, because you can have as many of those toasts as you like for dunking in the rich broth. Try Serious Eats’ version of French Onion Soup, which is sure to be worth the work.