This time of year brings frigid weather, and it can be a good time to stay indoors and break bread with friends and family while escaping the cold. We’ve got a great lineup of soups and comfort foods to warm you from the inside out.

Chris Goldman’s Nana’s Chicken & Dumplings is like a warm hug. “My Nana was an amazing cook. I distinctly remember her making this,” he says. “She passed away rather suddenly, and this recipe reminds me of her and keeps her close.”

Looking to get rid of leftover turkey from the holidays? Try substituting it for chicken in Teresa Holderfield’s Chicken Pot Pie. “It’s a family favorite and warms you up during the crazy Alabama winters.”

Colleen Allison’s Chicken Chili with Fresh Chicken Stock adds a surprising touch – canned pumpkin. “My family has a sensitivity to the Nightshade fruits and vegetables, which means that tomatoes are a big no,” she says. “I needed a chili recipe for the cooler days and used several different ones to create this recipe. It has become a family favorite.”

And if you you’ve sworn off the popular taco soup because it’s too salty, check out Shelia Baker’s Turkey Taco Soup. She uses salt-free vegetables, leaves out the dry ranch dressing, and adds cumin and garlic powder for an extra zing.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Tonya Millican’s decadent Potato Soup with half-and-half and melted Velveeta mixed in and topped with bacon and cheddar cheese, or Melissa Kitchings’ easy and delicious 5-Ingredient Three Cheese Tortellini Soup. “This is definitely a family favorite,” she says.


Nanna’s Chicken & Dumplings
Chris Goldman

INGREDIENTS

For the chicken and broth:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 whole yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place the chopped onion and garlic in a large pot with the water and chicken broth. Add about 1 tablespoon each of salt and pepper. Boil chicken on low for about 4 to 6 hours until meat falls off. A crockpot works nicely for this. The longer the chicken cooks the better the flavor of your broth.

For the dumplings:

  • 2 and ¼ cup of self- rising flour
  • 1 stick of Crisco shortening
  • 1 to 2 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

In bowl, mix the flour and salt with the shortening. A fork works well but using your hands is best (it will appear crumbly). Add 1 cup of water to the flour mixture and stir well. Slowly add more water about ¼ cup at a time. Dumplings are done when the dough forms a ball.

Assemble:

Drain the chicken from your broth. Heat the remaining broth in the pot over low-medium. Shred all the chicken and place back into the broth. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Using a tablespoon, scoop the dough and drop into the broth. (Or, you could be fancy and roll out the dough first.) Stir frequently while broth gently boils so the dumplings don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Cook for about 30 minutes, then serve.


Easy Chicken Pot Pie
Teresa Holderfield

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pack of boneless chicken tenders
  • 2 cans Veg-All mixed vegetables
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • ½ soup can of half and half
  • 2 pie shells

Preheat oven to 400. Cook chicken. Mix all ingredients in a baking dish. Top with pie crust. Cook until bubbling and crust is golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Dip fingertips in flour, smear on your clothes and face and look exhausted!


Chicken Chili With Fresh Chicken Stock
Colleen Allison

INGREDIENTS

For the chili:

  • 3 cups dry navy beans, soaked overnight and rinsed
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion, medium dice
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and medium dice
  • 2 stalks celery, cleaned and medium dice (you can use the leaves)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dry oregano
  • 1 can diced green chilies
  • ½ cup canned pure pumpkin
  • 2 quarts chicken stock, or enough so that it is a half-inch above top of ingredients (fresh chicken stock recipe, below)
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (or thighs), season with salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

Heat 5-quart,, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add about 2 tablespoons olive oil, then sauté onion, carrot and celery about 3 minutes. The goal is to loosen up the vegetables, not to cook them. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in cumin and oregano. Add chicken and sear on both sides until done. Season with salt and pepper. Then add beans, chicken stock, pumpkin and green chilies, stirring to combine ingredients.

Simmer until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken, shred into small bite-sized pieces with two forms (remember the meat is hot!) Return to pot. Simmer until beans are the consistency you want, adding stock as needed to your desired consistency. When serving top with fresh cilantro to your bowl.

For the fresh chicken stock:

  • 1 large onion
  • 3 stocks celery
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bunch fresh herbs (3 sprigs thyme, 1 sprig rosemary, 4 sage leaves)
  • 1 chicken carcass* (I found a local farmer that sells chicken bones for stock)

This is a good use for chicken or turkey neck for those who roast chickens or turkeys. I use 2 to 3 chicken legs or the wing tips after cutting the wing for “chicken wings.”

Put all ingredients into a large slow cooker or stock pot, cover with water, put the lid on and set for low. Cook for 12 hours or more, adding more water as needed.

Strain into small containers and place them in the refrigerator, without the lids. (Stock needs to cool completely before adding the lid.) Once cool, add lid and use or freeze. If freezing, use masking tape and a marker to add the date to the container so that you know the date you made it. Use within 6 months. You can also measure out as you store so that you know how much is in each container and you don’t have to thaw more than you need. Use within three days after thawing.


Potato Soup
Tonya Millican

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 pounds red potatoes
  • Chicken stock (enough to cover potatoes)
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 4 cups half-and-half
  • 4 cups milk
  • 16 ounces Velveeta cheese, melted
  • 3 cans Campbell’s Cheddar Cheese soup
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper, more or less to taste
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder, more or less to taste
  • 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons hot sauce

Toppings:

  • ½ pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Fresh chives, chopped

Wash and scrub potatoes. Dry, and dice into ½-inch cubes. Place potatoes in a large pot, cover with chicken stock, bring to a boil and cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until potatoes are ¾ of the way cooked. Drain and set aside.

In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until smooth. Continue cooking flour mixture about 1-2 minutes. Pour in half and half and milk, whisking constantly. Continue whisking until liquid is smooth and starts to thicken slightly. Pour in melted Velveeta cheese and whisk to combine. Add in the cans of cheddar cheese soup and whisk until smooth. Stir in hot sauce, pepper and garlic powder. Add boiled potatoes, stir, and place lid on pot. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Top individual servings with cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon and fresh chives.


5-Ingredient Three-Cheese Tortellini Soup
Melissa Kitchings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound sausage, crumbled and browned
  • 2 cans Italian stewed tomatoes
  • 2 32-ounce Swanson Chicken Broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 20-ounce package of three-cheese tortellini

Brown sausage in a skillet. Then put all ingredients, including cooked sausage, into a large stock pot and place on the stove on medium-low heat for about one hour, stirring occasionally.

When the tortellini starts to fatten up – but not uncurl – the soup is ready to serve. It’s even better the second time around!


Turkey Taco Soup
Shelia B. Baker

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 can of Ro-Tel tomatoes, mild
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (I use no salt)
  • 1 can kernel corn (I use no salt or sugar)
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

Toppings:

  • Sour cream
  • Mexican shredded cheese
  • Corn chips

Preheat oven to 350. In a skillet, brown meat and onions. (Note: turkey will not turn as dark as beef, but with seasoning it will look the same). Add remaining ingredients (except toppings) in a large pot or bean pot. Cook in oven for 20 to 30 minutes. My bean pot keeps warm with the top on it, so I can make before guests arrive.

Alternative cooking methods: Ingredients can be transferred to a microwave-safe dish and cooked in the microwave, or on low on the stovetop.

Add toppings and serve. This yields about 3 or 4 servings. Double recipe for more servings.