Sweet potato with lentil soup in winter

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What is it about a steaming pot of soup or a hearty stew, slowly simmering on the stove and filling the house with enticing aromas, that instinctively reminds us of childhood? Possibly it’s because carefully prepared soups and stews have come to symbolize the comforts of home.

They warm us when the weather turns cold and console us after a trying day. 

By its_al_dente / shutterstock.com
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For busy cooks with families on the go, soups and stews are a godsend. They need minimal prep work, usually just chopping vegetables and measuring the required amounts of liquid, grains, herbs, and spices that go into the pot. Then, depending on the recipe, the whole lot can simmer slowly or quickly on the stove, in the oven, or in a slow cooker. What’s more, many taste even better the next day, which means leftovers are sure to be satisfying. 

On days when schedules dictate that everyone has to eat dinner at a different time, it’s great to know there’s a warm pot of something nutritious and flavorful ready for each person to tuck into. And when you find yourself with a few more hungry mouths to feed than you’d counted on, just add some more veggies or beans to the pot or to the accompanying salad, heat up a hearty loaf of bread, and call the gang in for dinner. 

So what will it be tonight? How about the comfort of old-fashioned Tomato and Rice Soup or everyone’s favorite bistro classic, French Onion Soup? Savor the flavors of the Old South with Red Bean and Collard Gumbo. Heed the call of the Southwest with any one of our four vegetarian chili recipes. If the exotic appeals to you, try the spicy Thai Coconut Soup or Curried Vegetable Stew, redolent with Indian spices, raisins, and tomatoes. 

And lest you think soups and stews are winter-only meals, while you’re firing up the outdoor grill, sit down to the refreshing Chilled Buttermilk-Vegetable Soup. 

When dinner’s done, if you’re lucky enough to have even a little bit of leftovers, freeze them in individual serving size containers to re-heat for a quick meal. Even smaller amounts can serve as an accompaniment to a sandwich or salad. 

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