Comfort Food

It’s been awhile since I talked about cooking. While we lived in the UK, we had a small kitchen and didn’t have room to store the bulk ingredients you usually keep stocked in the pantry. We made due as best we could but, now that we’re back, we’re happy to stretch our culinary muscles once again. In the rainy and snowy days of fall and winter, soup has become one of my favourite meals. It’s easy, whether you throw it in the crock pot or make it in the half hour before dinner, and it’s hearty, the perfect comfort food for a chilly evening.

There are a million good soup recipes, probably because soup is so easy to make. Whatever combination, it’s likely to taste fabulous. You just throw all your ingredients into some broth, add seasonings and wait. I’ve recently undertaken a quest to find new and interesting soup recipes (so if you have a favourite please do share). In the mean time, these have become staples in our household.

Potato and Leek Soup
Why I love it: During college, I often grabbed a cup of soup for lunch between classes. My favourite campus lunch quickly became potato and leek soup. One of my first food quests was to discover a comparable recipe. There’s something about the mix of flavours I can’t get enough of. Potato and Leek soup was the first soup I made from scratch myself and it continues to be one of the best. There’s nothing better on a snowy winter’s night.
Tips: Many recipes recommend blending the soup before serving, but I prefer to leave the vegetables in chunks. I’m sure it has an excellent texture when blended, but I like to bite into the potatoes myself. You can also toss all the ingredients into your crock pot and let them simmer on low for the day. I also use a few cups of milk rather than half an half. For a little added flavor, throw some shredded cheese into your bowl!

Broccoli and Cheese Soup
Why I love it: Broccoli and cheese is one of my favourite combinations. Another of my first choices when I eat out (especially at Tim Hortons or Kelsey’s). Not all soups need to sit on the stove all day. Here’s one you can throw on to simmer for 20-30 minutes. Especially good if you’ve had a rough day and need to relax!
Tips: You can leave out the flour (which is only meant to thicken but can sometimes leave a strange taste). The soup tastes equally good with cauliflower or a mix of the two.

Butternut Squash Soup
Why I love it: A recently new addition to our repertoire, this is quickly becoming my husband’s favourite. I had never considered cooking with squash until someone gave me a few. We had tried several other recipes but still had half a squash left. I decided it was time to try a soup. This one is simple; another toss everything in the crock pot and leave it. The flavor is brilliantly sweet and tangy. Not only is it excellent comfort food, it’s helpful for easing an upset stomach. Shortly after I made this soup the first time, I spent half a week feeling nauseous and dizzy. I was doubly glad to have the soup to heat up because it was quick, easy and always settled my stomach.
Tips: You can use any squash, but my experience is that butternut squash has the best flavor!

Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup
Why I love it: One of the results of my search for something different. This is the kind of soup we used to buy canned, but it tastes so much better when you make it fresh!
Tips: I pre-cook my rice before adding it to my soup because I like lots of broth. However, you can add the uncooked rice directly to the crock pot for a thicker soup.

French Onion Soup
Why I love it: This is a classic recipe, but one that we’ve only mastered in recent years. For a long time we only had french onion soup when eating out, until we bought the oven dishes we needed to make it at home. My husband and I played around with a lot of recipes until we found one that perfectly suits our taste. Perfect comfort food any time of the year.
Tips: The key to french onion soup seems to be finding the perfect bread to use on top. You can use plain sliced bread, but you’ll want to find a method for grilling or toasting that prevents it from dissolving when you place it on top of the soup. Sliced Italian bread also works really well.

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