Way back in the winter of 2003, I picked up a somewhat generic nutrition pamphlet that contained an article with a title I will always remember – mainly because it is a “play” on that old saying “cold hands, warm heart.” The article was titled “Cold Hands, Warm Food.” As I recall, it was centered on the great comfort of soup during icy, winter months.

I ask you, is there anything more soothing than coming in out of the cold, putting on your warmest pajamas, slippers or warm socks and enjoying a hot bowl of soup?

Now, we Southerners don’t want a soup that consists primarily of broth with a bit of pasta and/or meat sprinkled in. We want soups that are hearty and healthy – soups that will satisfy our hungers and fortify our bodies. That said, I hereby present two outstanding choices with which you may fill your favorite soup bowl.

If any of you have great soup, chowder, stew, gumbo, or creole recipes that will make our winter more enjoyable, we welcome your ideas. After all, sharing recipes has become a worldwide revolution in the past few years, and those of us who love the Deep South know the rest of the world has nothing on what our kitchens have to offer!

Scrumptious chicken ‘n vegetable soup

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

2 cups peeled, cubed russet potatoes

1 cup chopped red pepper

1 pound cooked chicken, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 cups fresh or frozen corn

2 cups low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth

1-1/2 cups evaporated skim milk

2 teaspoons cornstarch

4 teaspoons water

In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and parsley and saute the ingredients for five minutes. Add the potatoes and saute the ingredients for five more minutes. Add the red pepper and saute it for five more minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the cornstarch and water. Bring the ingredients to a simmer and cook them for an additional 10 minutes. Stir together the cornstarch and water until a smooth paste is formed. Add this paste to the soup and cook until the soup has thickened.

Golden butternut squash soup

1 teaspoon canola oil

1 medium onion, minced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 (10-ounce) packages thawed butternut squash

1 cup low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth

1-1/2 cups evaporated skim milk

1 teaspoon nutmeg

Fresh ground pepper to taste

1 cup finely shredded mild cheddar cheese Cayenne pepper

In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute them for three minutes. Add the carrots and saute the ingredients for three more minutes. Add the butternut squash and broth and bring these ingredients to a boil. Add the milk and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Add the nutmeg. (Most people puree this soup, in batches, in a blender. But I like to use a clean potato masher to lightly “mash” the ingredients, because I like some “substance” to my soup. Either way, it is delicious.) Just before serving, add the fresh ground pepper. Sprinkle each bowl or cup of soup with a bit of finely shredded mild cheddar cheese, and for color and zing, a light dash of Cayenne pepper (optional).

Contact writer at tgmhatchell@yahoo.com.

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