Healthy and Hearty Winter Soup will warm you up

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January is National Soup Month and it’s obvious why, if you live in Northern climes. It may even be obvious in to people living in parts of the South right now who are experiencing some atypical chilly temps.

Soup is usually easy to make, an inexpensive way to feed a lot of people and warm and cozy when it’s freezing out. Perfect for a dark January evening. I like making soups for a number of reasons, one being that it’s really difficult to screw up a soup and it’s simple to add a bunch of healthy ingredients in a way that kids (and picky adults) will eat. You could probably even add onions and I may not notice.

I threw together this chicken-broth based soup recipe years ago, and it’s still a favorite because of how easy it is to customize. I’ve made many changes over the years to up the spice factor and to substitute ingredients that I had on hand for ones that I would’ve had to trek through the Arctic tundra for, and so can you. You can even start with a vegan broth base and add more veggies instead of meat if that’s what you like. The main thing to remember with this recipe is that it has three main ingredients: a starch, a green and a protein, and they are all customizable. Switch them out however you see fit. All the rest of the ingredients thicken up the soup and add flavor.

HEALTHY AND HEARTY WINTER SOUP

6 cups chicken or any broth that works

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1 cup heavy cream

4 large potatoes, peeled and diced (you could also use something like parsnips)

1 pound of meat, you can use spicy sausage, ground turkey, chicken or whatever you like

4 cloves of garlic (if you like garlic, half that or less if you don’t)

1 tsp. salt

Dashes of pepper to taste

1 teaspoon of cayenne; or red pepper; or chili powder (choose one, don’t use all three. And leave out entirely if you don’t like some spice)

1 cup spinach or other green, cleaned and chopped

You may also add more cheese of almost any kind if you like a cheesy soup, or more cream if you want it creamier. If you want to really make it into a filling meal, you can also add pasta. Egg noodles or tortellini would work really well. It would also lend itself to some tasty dumplings! You can also add onion if that’s what you’re into.

Directions:

Cook whatever meat or main ingredient you choose. Transfer to a plate to drain.

Add chicken broth to a large pot. Add garlic, salt, pepper and cayenne. Add potatoes and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20-25 minutes, depending on size of pieces.

Add the spinach or other greens, then add the heavy cream, half the Parmesan cheese and whatever meat you cooked earlier. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Serve and add the rest of the Parmesan cheese on top.

Miranda Beverly is the front-end manager and marketing coordinator at Maple City Market in downtown Goshen.