A Simmering Pot of Comfort

Updated: Feb 10

Preparing a delicious meal can be meditative for me, especially when I am not in a rush to get dinner on the table in a mad dash. Cooking is also one of the tangible ways I express love and care for others. Likewise, it is part of my self-care practice. In the bleak days and nights of winter when I’d rather be burrowed under a cozy blanket with a steaming hot mug of something, I crave comfort. So soups and stews are heavy on my menu rotation in the colder months. I figure I’m not alone in needing all the comfort I can get these days, so I wanted to share some of my favorite soup recipes. May they fill you up and bring you warmth and satisfaction.

Tomato Basil Soup (Vegetarian/Vegan)

This is a great, quick weeknight soup!

Serves 4

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes


1 large yellow onion, diced

3 large cloves of garlic, minced

¼ cup plus 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 ½ pounds of roma or tomatoes on the vine

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

10 large fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving


Heat 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and aromatic, 7 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, quarter the tomatoes, then cut each piece in half. (No need to seed, skin, or remove the cores; you should have about 8 cups chopped tomatoes.)

Add the tomatoes to the pot, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes have softened, broken apart, and started to go orange-y in color, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 10 large basil leaves, and season with black pepper. Stir to combine and let sit for 5 minutes.

Use an immersion or standard blender to purée the soup, slowly drizzling in 2 tablespoons olive oil while blending, until smooth or desired consistency. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot, topped with torn basil leaves and more black pepper.

Recipe Notes

Flavor Boost Option: Place the tomatoes, onions, and garlic on a sheet tray, drizzle with some olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree 20-25 minutes oven until tender. Skip step 1 and put the roasted vegetables in a medium pot over medium-high heat and cook until the vegetables break apart. Continue on with the remaining steps, but salt to taste.

Blending options: An immersion blender is the easiest way to purée this soup, but a standard blender works, too— a food processor works in a pinch! Work in batches making sure the feed hole is open for steam to escape, if using a blender or a food processor.

Make ahead: This soup can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated, or frozen up to 3 months.

Source: The Kitchn

Stuffed Pepper Soup

All the flavor of stuffed peppers but less work. Also, a great way to use up leftover rice.

Serves 8

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes


2 pounds ground beef

6 cups water

1 can (28 ounces) tomato sauce

1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

2 cups green peppers, chopped

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules (I use Better than Bouillion beef base)

1 teaspoon pepper

2 cups cooked long grain rice

Chopped fresh parsley, optional

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook and stir beef until no longer pink, breaking into crumbles. Drain if desired. Stir in the next 8 ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer uncovered until peppers are tender, about 30 minutes.

Add cooked rice. Simmer uncovered, 10 minutes longer.

Use ladle to serve, and garnish with chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

Source: Taste of Home

Cajun Shrimp and Corn Chowder

I love this sweet, smoky, spicy chowder, and it’s always a big hit when I make it for others. To make this recipe pescatarian, omit the bacon and cook in olive oil.

Serves 4-6

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes


1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 frozen package of whole sweet corn

4 -6 slices bacon, cut into small pieces

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined and patted dry

2 tablespoons butter (or extra bacon fat, if available)

1 medium onion, diced

3 -4 cloves garlic, minced

2 ribs celery, diced

6 cups shrimp or vegetable stock*

1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, diced into 1/2-inch cubes

1 teaspoon smoked paprika (if you like an extra smoky flavor, increase to 1 tablespoon)

1 to 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning, to taste - 2 tbsp. will make it fairly spicy - I use Tony Chachere’s

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Old Bay seasoning, to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup of cream

Optional toppings: chopped green onions or chives, bacon, or oyster crackers.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On a sheet pan drizzle the corn with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes until corn looks golden and starts to char a bit. You can also put it under the broiler to lightly char it. Remove and let cool until ready to handle.

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook rendering the fat. Cook until you get crisp bacon bits and remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Remove some of the fat until about 2 tablespoons are left in the pot. Add shrimp to the pot and season with salt and pepper, cook for 2 minutes in the bacon fat. Stir cooking shrimp evenly; do not overcook. You want them a bit undercooked - remember you will be adding them to the chowder where they will continue to cook in the hot soup. Remove shrimp with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add a tablespoon of butter or more bacon grease to rendered bacon grease and add onion. Sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add celery and garlic. Continue sautéing for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in salt and pepper. Add garlic, smoked paprika, Cajun seasoning, and thyme. Stir until everything is coated. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.

Add stock and potatoes. Stir to combine.

Continue cooking until the mixture reaches a simmer. Then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 10-15 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender.

Using an immersion blender**, blend the soup until about half of the potatoes are smooth. Then add the reserved roasted sweet corn to the pot and stir.

Pour in the cream; stir, taste, and season with additional salt and/or Cajun seasoning if needed.

Stir in the cooked shrimp and heat through.

Serve warm, garnish with chopped bacon bits and green onions.

Refrigerate soup in sealed containers for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

*I use the shrimp shells to make stock by putting them in a pot with a quartered onion, 2 coarsely chopped carrots and 2 coarsely chopped celery ribs. Cover with water, adding some Old Bay seasoning and 2 bay leaves. I bring to a boil and then simmer for at least 15 minutes or longer. Pour stock through a strainer to remove the solids.

**If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can ladle some of the chowder and potatoes into a blender or food processor for this step or you can skip it altogether. The chowder won’t be as thick, but it will be as delicious.

Source: Jess’ personal recipe

Tuscan Tortellini Vegetable Soup (Vegetarian/Vegan)

This is another quick weeknight soup packed with vegetables. Use vegan tortellini to make it vegan-friendly.

Serves: 6

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups chopped carrots (about 4)

1 1/2 cups diced yellow onion (1 medium)

1 cup chopped celery (about 3 stalks)

2 cups chopped green beans , about 1-inch pieces (can use frozen)

2 cups chopped zucchini (about 2 small)

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 (14.5 oz) cans vegetable broth

2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes (I use one regular and one petite diced)

1 teaspoon each dried basil and rosemary, crushed

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 (9 oz) package refrigerated 3-cheese tortellini

3 cups packed spinach or kale

Shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese, optional for serving

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onion and celery and saute 3 minutes. Add green beans and saute 3 minutes longer. Add zucchini and garlic and saute 1 more minute. Pour in broth and tomatoes. Add basil, rosemary, thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to medium and allow to boil 8 minutes. Add tortellini and boil 5-7 minutes longer (or 2 minutes less than directions listed on package. If a more brothy soup is desired, then boil pasta separately from soup and add at the end). Stir in spinach and cook 2 minutes longer.

Serve warm topped with Romano or Parmesan cheese.

Recipe source: Cooking Classy

Zuppa Toscana

This soup might be my favorite of all time! It’s a heavy hitter in my soup rotation. Perfect with a salad and some crusty bread.

Serves: 8

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes


1 pound Italian sausage (I recommend spicy)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium white onion, peeled and diced

1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, washed and diced

4 cups chicken stock

2 cups water

2 cups chopped fresh kale

1 cup heavy whipping cream (or half and half)

Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Cook sausage in a large stockpot over medium-high heat until browned and cooked through, breaking the sausage into small pieces as it cooks. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked sausage to a separate plate, reserving 1 tablespoon grease in the stockpot for later*, and discarding the excess grease. (I actually like to briefly rinse my cooked sausage in a strainer to remove even more excess grease.) Set aside.

Add onions to the stockpot (with the grease), and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, and sauté for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

Add the potatoes, chicken stock, water, and cooked sausage, and continue cooking until the mixture reaches a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Stir in the kale and cream, and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Top with grated parmesan cheese to serve.

Source: Gimme Some Oven

Let us know what you think if you try any of these. Take a photo, post it to your social media, and tag us in your post!