And while we can’t control the weather — or a lot of other things beyond the four walls of our homes — we can give ourselves some measure of reassurance with a home-cooked bowl of flavorful soup.
Think something hearty that can power you through these next few months — no delicate bisques or cold gazpacho will do during times like these. Try these six different rib-sticking styles and get some pro tips on keeping your leftovers as fresh as the day they were made.
If you’d rather go vegetarian, but still want a chowder moment, substitute sliced, sautéed oyster or shiitake mushrooms for clams and vegetable broth for clam broth.
Vegetarian split pea soup
A bowl of thick, chunky split pea soup is one of the all-time favorite winter warmers — and its simplicity doesn’t hurt its popularity among home cooks, either.
Chicken tortilla soup
Oyster crackers aren’t the only way to add crunchy contrast to a hearty soup. Crispy fried (or baked) tortilla strips are what give tortilla soup its name. When your soup is named after a topping, you know it’s a nonnegotiable.
If your tastebuds need a wake-up call this winter, the Greeks have the answer, and it’s avgolemono. This chicken and rice soup is brightly flavored with a bracing hit of lemon and handfuls of fresh dill and has an irresistibly silky texture, thanks to blended eggs.
Ham and bean soup
There are as many iterations of this soup style as there are varieties of beans across the globe, but the basic concept remains the same. Tender but toothsome beans fill you up, while a hint of ham — typically from a leftover bone or hock — creates a rich, savory flavor.
Thai curry noodle soup
It’s not just folk medicine. Even if it’s not your mom’s recipe, chicken soup really can alleviate the sniffles when you’re feeling stuffy. If you combine chicken stock with ingredients like ginger, garlic and spicy curry paste, you’re bound to feel even better after a single slurp.
While most soup recipes can be halved or doubled without too much trouble, soup naturally lends itself to the “cook once, eat twice” school of thought. And if you think you won’t eat all the leftovers in a few days, “the coolest part about soup is that it can freeze,” Wright said.
Even creamy soups can be frozen, though the dairy may separate and give the soup a grainy texture. Thaw completely in the refrigerator before reheating, and reheat gently over low heat on the stovetop for best results.
Because soups with grains like pasta and rice tend to absorb broth as they cool, Wright has a solution to preventing these starchy ingredients from stealing all the soupiness out of the meal.
“When I know I’m going to be freezing or giving soup to people a day after I make it, I don’t add the pasta right away,” Wright said. Instead of cooking the starch in the broth according to recipe instructions, she stirs the pasta or grains into the soup as it cools down off heat. This way, the thirsty starches will cook as the soup is reheated.
For food safety, let your soup cool down for about 20 minutes, until it’s no longer steaming, before dividing and freezing. Too-hot soup can lower the temperature of your freezer, which can make all the other food inside start to thaw.
Once you’re stocked up on soup, you might want it to be soup season year-round.
Casey Barber is a food writer, illustrator and photographer; the author of “Pierogi Love: New Takes on an Old-World Comfort Food” and “Classic Snacks Made from Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of Your Favorite Brand-Name Treats”; and editor of the website Good. Food. Stories.