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Winter and hot soup go hand in hand

Winter rushes in and the cold, snow and wind can give you such a chill and leave you thinking that you will never be warm again! Wintertime is invigorating, especially if there is snow in your neck of the woods. It is magical to be outside and enjoy the sharp, brisk weather. However, after being in this element for a while, it can be brutal. This is when warm clothes, a warm fire and a warm bowl of soup will be all it takes to get you going again. There is nothing better than snuggling up by the fire to enjoy a bowl of soup; it is guaranteed to warm the soul.

The best soups that keep you warm in the winter are ones that bring back memories and are often referred to as “comfort food”. Here are some really simple and downright delicious tasting soups to keep you toasty and whet your appetite:

Chicken stew

Not quite the same as chicken noodle soup, chicken stew is hardy and robust. It is healthy, too, as it contains a meat, vegetable and a starch, and is filling! Preparing this tasty stew is very simple. First, boil a whole chicken (or you can use boneless chicken breast, add canned chicken broth or chicken bouillon cubes to beef up the flavor) in water until done, saving the broth. Pull the chicken off the bone and shred it by pulling it apart in fine strips. Return the chicken to the broth. Add about six or so diced potatoes, about two bags of frozen corn (frozen sweet corn is better than canned), two cans of stewed or diced tomatoes and seasonings such as salt, pepper and hot sauce. Let this simmer until heated through.

Corn chowder

Another favorite, this is a very rich soup. It is full of buttery creamy goodness, and is easy to prepare. In a large pot, cook six or so pieces of bacon until crisp, then crumble and return to pot, leaving the bacon drippings. Peel and dice about six to eight potatoes and add this to the pot with the bacon and bacon drippings. Cover the potatoes with water and boil until done but still firm. In another pot, melt two sticks of butter; add two bags of frozen corn and two cartons (about two cups) of whipping cream, or half-and-half. Let this simmer until warm. Combine the two pots, add two cups regular milk and heat through, do not boil. Serve with cornbread and you have a wonderful, warm meal!

Chili

Winter would not be the same if we were not able to enjoy a bowl of chili. While there are many recipes for chili, the basic ingredients are ground beef or ground chuck, pinto, kidney, black or chili beans, diced or stewed tomatoes, diced onions, chili powder, salt and pepper. After browning and draining the ground beef, add all the other ingredients. Experiment; add chili peppers, red or green bell peppers, anything else you may like. Spice it up so that you sweat when you take a bite or leave it mild so the kids can eat it. Another tip to make a pot of chili richer: add a square of a chocolate bar and stir until melted. It definitely enhances the flavor. Serve grated cheese, sour cream, even ranch dressing on the side.

Winter and hot soup go hand in hand, not only is soup good for you, easy and inexpensive to make, and is a meal in itself, it really does make you feel good inside.