We eat a lot of soup this time of year: twice a week, we’re serving up some kind of soup or stew. The soup recipes we rely on are easy, often make-ahead, and are perfect for chilly, busy nights.
Soup is also incredibly forgiving, or at least the soups I make are. If I don’t have leeks or celery or some other ingredient we don’t have on hand, I don’t let that stop me. My soup may not taste exactly like the recipe’s version, but it will still be good.
Let’s talk about that “make-ahead” for the minute: something I adore about soup recipes is that once you put all your ingredients together, they often need to simmer, for twenty minutes or several hours. On winter afternoons when it gets dark well before dinner time, I love taking this time to sit down and read a few chapters of a good book. These few minutes are a little, but very real, luxury.
I have tried-and-true recipes I rely on, that I make over and over, and today I’m sharing five favorite family soup recipes with you. I’ve made them so many times I can make them by heart. But I’m always on the hunt for new recipes, ones that could become family favorites, so won’t you please share your faves in comments?
A note about the recipes below: we’re in a busy season at my house, and we’re always striving for the right combination of deliciousness and ease. I use homemade chicken stock when we have it, but I rely on Costco chicken stock when I don’t. It’s not quite as good but because we always have it in the pantry, making soup is a breeze—and that’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make right now. You’ll notice I also rely on recipes that are flexible: around here, making dinner can’t require a special trip to the grocery for an unusual ingredient.
5 family favorite recipes for soup season
Edie’s Greek Lemon Chicken Soup
This is really and truly what I made for dinner on Tuesday night. I love this soup so much that when I finally met Edie in person last October, the first thing I told her was, “I make your soup all the time!” This chicken soup with a twist feels light and bright yet is satisfying enough to stand on its own as a meal. The soup is thickened with egg yolks: we freeze the whites for later use, most often in these addictive spiced nuts.
Pam Anderson’s Quick Chicken Chili for a Crowd
This recipe serves twelve. I rarely cook for twelve, but we have a family of six, and I sure do like my leftovers. (It’s easily halved if you don’t need to have twelve chili servings on hand.)
I’m a longtime fan of Pam Anderson’s cooking; I learned to cook as a twenty-something thanks to her cookbook How to Cook Without a Book. I have a lot of faith in her recipes, and never would have tried adding shredded chicken to red chile without her guidance. (Where I grew up, chili meant beef.)
This recipe is tasty and easy to make, comes together quickly but is even better the next day; it’s flexible and adaptable. We swap in pinto beans or omit beans entirely, skip the chocolate if we don’t have it, sub cooked ground beef for the chicken or double the beans for a meat-free version.
I trust Well Fed recipes because they work. (Their Chocolate Chili is another favorite.)
I’ve been making this soup for nearly ten years now; it just might be my favorite way to eat my winter veggies. I almost always make it with chicken stock (not beef, as called for) because that’s what we keep on hand, and my favorite garnish is a liberal dusting of fresh nutmeg. (I buy whole nutmeg at Penzey’s and grate it straight into the serving bowl with a rasp-style grater.)
A note for Instant-Pot fans: you can shave down your cooking time by pressure cooking this soup, but your Instant-Pot will smell like cauliflower forever. You’ve been warned.
This is another recipe I’ve been making for a decade. (Now you can see why I’m asking for new soup recipes, huh?) This might be the very first Ina Garten recipe I tried; her cookbooks are now a mainstay in my kitchen because I trust her recipes.
Chopping all these veggies takes me a while, but the result is worth it: a huge pot of soup that my whole family loves. (Seriously, I can’t believe how excited my kids get when I announce we’re having lentil soup for dinner.) We often make the similar Lentil Sausage Soup.
(Real talk: back when Trader Joe’s sold prepped frozen leeks, I followed the recipe and included them most of the time. Now that those have been discontinued (sniff), I’ve tried making this with fresh leeks and have decided it’s just not worth the hassle. Is the soup a little better with them? Maybe. But not enough to justify the significantly increased extra prep time.)
I started making this recipe nearly twenty years ago when my local paper ran a recipe from a now-defunct local restaurant in the food column. (Now that’s a throwback.) I was shocked to discover that recipe is still available online! (It’s not in the recipe, but after the ingredients have simmered for a bit, I always pull out my immersion blender and blend about half the soup for a smoother texture.)
I love the bell pepper in this; I often swap in red or yellow instead of green. I always skip the jalapeño (for my kids’ sake, sigh). If you don’t have green chiles on hand, that’s fine, but know that this recipe benefits greatly from an ingredient with some zing: sometimes I’ll tip in some juice from our ever-present jar of Trader Joe’s sweet and spicy jalapeños in the fridge, or a whole jar of roasted red peppers instead of fresh. We’re generous with our garnishes: that’s the fun part with this soup.
What are your favorite recipes, the go-to soups that you make over and over? Please tell us about them in comments!
P.S. 20 interesting recipes to make for dinner with boneless skinless chicken breasts, and my favorite chocolate cake. (This cake even scored a mention in Don’t Overthink It!)