Soup, stew, and chili are probably hands down my number one winter comfort food. Followed closely behind by things like Lasagna, stuffed shells (my brother and I made some really awesome stuffed shells when he was visiting for Christmas that I’ll tell you about another time), and homemade mac n cheese.
I like the versatility of soups because I almost always have the makings of some type of soup between the ingredients in my fridge, freezer, and pantry without having to make a special trip to the store. There are so many different varieties of soup, stew, and chili and a plethora of flavor combinations that I can usually get by for a while without getting bored.
If after a few months of winter produce you start feeling a little tired of bowls of soup, try mixing things up a bit. In this recipe for Black Bean Soup with Roasted Chiles and Tomatoes I’ve roasted the vegetables and pureed them into the soup rather than sautéing the vegetables and leaving them diced or chopped.
Roasted vegetables add great flavor to the soup and the oven always warms up the kitchen nicely on a chilly day.
4 Tips for Flavorful Soup, Stew, and Chili
1. Start with Tasty Liquids
Rich, homemade broth is always ideal, but if you’re short on time or without access I like to use high quality store bought broths. I prefer either Better than Bouillon Organic Bases or Pacific Natural Foods Organic Broths.
3. Brown the Meats
Recipe got meat? Make sure you brown it first. The browned bits left in the bottom of the pan after browning the meat will build the flavor of the soup even more. Then you can deglaze those browned bits left behind with a little cooking wine or broth.
2. Sweat the Mirepoix and Aromatics
I consider them the soup basics: onion, leeks, garlic, carrot, celery, and (depending on the soup) ginger. Cooking these ingredients for about 5 minutes over medium heat before adding the liquid will deepen the flavor of the soup. Or try roasting them tossed in olive oil.
When I was a young(er), inexperienced cook I made the mistake of thinking soup was all the ingredients dumped into a pot of broth. Soup made that way just doesn’t taste as good!
3. Add Herbs
Fresh herbs should be added at the end of cooking, just prior to serving so you don’t lose all of their flavor. Dried herbs are great for adding early on because they’re better able to hold flavor for long cooking periods.
4. Simmer Low and Slow
I like to allow my soups so simmer for a longer period of time rather than quickly boiling them to get the vegetables tender. Yet again…you’ll get more flavor development this way.
More Soups and Stews for Winter:
- Braised Short Rib and Bacon Chili
- Chickpea and White Bean Chili (Gluten Free with Vegan Option)
- Coconut Lentil Soup with Lemongrass and Ginger
- Corn and Potato Chowder with Leeks
- Quick and Healthy Tomato Bisque with Quinoa
- Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili with Quinoa
- White Bean Chicken Chili Verde
What is your favorite winter comfort food?
Black Bean Soup with Roasted Chiles and Tomatoes
Yield: serves 4 - 6
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 small onion, cut into 6 wedges
3 jalapeños, halved and deseeded (stems discarded)
4 whole cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 - 15 ounce cans Bush's Black Beans, drained and rinsed (divided)
2 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, divided
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon lime juice
extra jalapeños for garnish, if desired
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Coat tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, and garlic with olive oil and honey in a medium bowl. Toss tomatoes, onion, jalapeño peppers, garlic, honey and oil in medium bowl until well coated. Spread the mixture in a single layer on the prepared pan. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
Place the roasted vegetables in a blender. Remove the center cover (not the whole lid) and cover the opening with a towel to let steam escape. Puree the mixture on high speed until smooth. Pour the mixture into a large saucepan.
Place 1 of the drained and rinsed can of beans, 1 cup of stock, 3 tablespoons cilantro, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper into the blender. Cover with the lid (replace the center portion you removed earlier) and puree until smooth. Add the bean mixture to the saucepan with the remaining 1 cup of chicken stock and the second can of beans (not pureed). Stir.
Cook the soup on low for 20 - 30 minutes, or until the soup is heated through and has slightly thickened. Stir occasionally so the bottom does not burn.
Meanwhile, combine the sour cream and lime juice. When the soup is heated through, ladle it into bowls and garnish with the lime sour cream, sliced jalapeños and reserved cilantro leaves.
The soup recipe freezes well without the added garnishes. Thaw in the refrigerator and reheat before serving, then add any desired garnish.
If jalapeños are too hot for you, try roasting 2 medium sized poblano peppers instead.
Substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock if a vegetarian variation is desired.
I have an ongoing relationship with Bush’s Beans where I am compensated for my time, however this is a brand that I have always used in my own kitchen and any opinions expressed regarding the product are my own.