Anytime is a good time for a comforting bowlful of homemade soup—especially if the cold, and the accompanying cold-and-flu season, are still lingering near you. As the original one-pot meal concept, soups offer a delicious and ever-varied way of incorporating a bounty of vegetables and grains, and stretching the number of servings a small amount of meat can provide. Soups can be both frugal and filling, easy and elegant.
Here’s a look at some sensational soups that will help take the chill out of the season. Even better, these soups span the globe, which means that you can incorporate a taste of the exotic—and a geography lesson!—into a homemade meal, right from the comfort of your kitchen.
North American Chili
Nothing wards off a chill like a bowl of chili! And though it is common American fare all around the country, the endless variety of chili styles offers something for all palates. Whether you hold to the Texas Red, or a Chile Verde, or prefer a vegetarian chili instead, you can cover a lot of ground and fill lots of hungry bellies cooking your way through the United States’ “melting pot” of chili culture and traditions. Try these secret Chili Recipes from Cooking Channel Chef Jeffrey Saad.
South American Potato Soup
A hearty and delicious offering from the Andes region of South America, this comforting broth known as locro de papa is thickened with potatoes and studded with sweet corn. These staple foods, native to the Americas, are accented by fresh, melty cheese and garnished with fresh cilantro, scallions, and often a slice of avocado. A little lighter and fresher than your average cream of potato soup or chowder, it’s a meat-free meal sure to please even the most committed carnivores.
European French Onion Soup
An ever-elegant offering is the classic French onion soup. Based on just a few humble ingredients, it’s mostly about good cooking technique that makes something magnificent out of ingredients that might not seem to be much. If you’ve never had a good homemade version of French onion soup, it’s a nice cozy kitchen project to try. Watch Julia Child’s original show devoted to soupe a l’oignon gratinee for inspiration. After viewing her show, you can try making it yourself with her recipe.
African Peanut Stew
This richly satisfying African stew may come as a surprise to the PB&J crowd, since peanut butter—in no short supply—goes straight into the broth! You can try many variations, mostly based on traditional groundnut soups and stews from West Africa. Some sweet potato-based versions are particularly delicious and can be made vegetarian, while still containing plenty of protein, thanks to the broth and peanut garnish.
Asian Chicken and Rice Soup
If you’ve grown cold on the usual chicken noodle, try this delicious Chinese chicken and rice soup, called congee. A true fix-it-and-forget-it recipe, my favorite version is made in a slow cooker and requires mere minutes of assembly, and no messy precooking in the morning. The rice should cook long enough for the grains to burst, creating a porridge-like consistency. The soup can be garnished with just about anything you like: scallions, cilantro, avocado, lime wedges, chili oil, fish sauce, and crispy fried onions are all at home here.
And what’s best about bringing all these global flavors home to your table is enjoying the warmth and comfort that only homemade can create.
What’s your favorite homemade soup? Share your recipes in the comments below!