Is there any food more perfect for the coldest months of the year than soup? I contend that no, in fact, there’s not. Aside from its obvious warming and comforting qualities, soup is also easy to make in large batches and can do a fine job of keeping you healthy through the winter. So get out your Dutch oven, start your slow cooker, or put a pot on the stovetop—and whip up a batch of one of these 10 best winter soup recipes we’ve collected for you.
David Chang’s Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup
When it comes to soup that can fight back the sniffles, chicken noodle soup is the stuff of legends. But if you’re used to eating this miracle elixir straight out of the can, you’re missing out. When you’re ready to put the work into making your own, may I suggest David Chang’s impeccable take on Chinese chicken noodle soup? He makes both a chicken and a vegetable broth (which lets you combine flavors to a Goldilocks-perfect consistency), and then adds warming Asian spices like star anise and coriander seeds to amp up its heartwarming medicinal effects.
J. Kenji López-Alt’s Potato-Leek Soup
Another classic of the wintertime soup rotation is potato and leek soup. Have you ever tried to make it? If so, you’ll know that it’s much more difficult than it looks at first glance—and even slight missteps can leave you with a gummy, broken mess rather than a rich and silky bowl of goodness. To refine your soup-making technique, look to J. Kenji López-Alt, a modern master of refining classic, simple dishes. He gives both a low-effort and full-effort version, so you can practice your soup fu and one day become a potato leek master.
Andy Baraghani’s Lamb and Winter Squash Soup
Lamb is one of the most often overlooked ingredients for creating rich, hearty, and unique soups and stews; more often, beef or pork is the star of the show. But once you’ve tried this lamb and winter squash soup from Bon Appetit—complete with a warming chile-infused broth—you’ll make sure to have a pound or two of lamb on hand every time you go to make soup. The real essence of this dish is in its spicing: Oregano, cumin, coriander, and allspice all play supporting roles to delicata squash’s natural sweetness and lamb’s deeply savory flavor.
Sarah DiGregorio’s Slow Cooker Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup
Slow cookers like the famous Crock Pot can turn winter meal prep into the easiest and most enjoyable part of the day. But they’re not an all-purpose solution to every soup recipe—especially ones with cream, which will turn into a curdled mess if you leave it on all day. So to achieve a rich and creamy texture to support this vegetarian soup, Sarah DiGregorio uses a roux: A mixture of equal parts flour and butter, cooked slowly until it develops a caramel color and wonderfully toasted aroma. It’ll take a bit of preparation time, but the results are well worth your trouble (so be sure to make a double batch).
Susur Lee’s Winter Squash Soup with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Everyone should know how to make a creamy squash soup. They’re quick and easy to put together so long as you have basic knife skills, they look gorgeous, and they’re especially delicious when paired with a seared protein and a hunk of crusty bread. Plus, they’re versatile—you can use whatever squash looks best at the farmer’s market, and it’ll turn out beautifully. Susur Lee’s template for a winter squash soup has all the classic elements: Butter, onion, celery, and garlic as the base, white wine and stock for the liquid, and plenty of squash as the main attraction. Cook the whole thing down, blend it to a creamy consistency, and then garnish with fresh nutmeg and toasted seeds to bring it all together.
Christian Reynoso’s Sonoran-Style Potato, Cheese, and Tomato Soup
How this soup has never made it big outside of Sonora, Mexico, I’ll never know. Take a look at the ingredients and tell me if it strikes you as familiar: A starch, tomato paste and fresh tomatoes, fresh and creamy cheese, and herbs and chili flakes for seasoning. It’s as satisfying as pizza, but in convenient soup form to combat your winter blues. Just be sure and follow Christian Reynoso’s directions for caldo de queso to a T, because the order of preparation will affect how well the cheese incorporates into the soup.
Tyler Florence’s French Onion Soup
The French onion soup that you can get in cans or little packets is a sad shadow of the original dish’s greatness. In its more effortful form—explained here by celebrity chef Tyler Florence—French onion soup combines everything that you want in a cold weather dish. A hefty dose of caramelized onions forms the base, while half a bottle of red wine and an equal amount of beef stock lend a nuanced and savory body. Grate a generous portion of Gruyere cheese over the top and then bake the whole thing to bubbling and caramelized goodness, and you’ll wonder why you haven’t been making this soup every winter.
Kate Berry’s Vietnamese-Style Beef Stew (Bò Kho)
Pho may be the most well known Vietnamese soup here in the United States, but it’s far from being the only game in town. Bò Kho takes a refreshingly different approach to the broth base, using tons of fresh ginger, garlic, and lemongrass to make an incredibly fragrant platform for beef and noodles. You’ll need to make a trip to your local Asian market to gather everything for this soup, but it’s well worth the time and effort; the combination of deeply flavorful marinated beef ribs and bright aromatics is truly unforgettable.
Daniel Gritzer’s Cajun Chicken and Andouille Gumbo
Even though New Orleans and the Bayou country hardly get a proper winter, there’s no shortage of amazing soups and stews from Creole and Cajun culture. Serious Eats’ Daniel Gritzer showcases a classic version of the region’s most popular soup/stew, with a chicken and andouille sausage gumbo. He also provides one of the most no-nonsense explanations of how to improvise soups and stews that I’ve ever read—and a thorough exploration of how to make roux that will demystify the thickener once and for all. Give it a read, then bookmark it to refer back to next time you’re making any soup.
Emeril Lagasse’s Kale and Chorizo Soup
Hailing from Portugal and made by a chef most famous for his New Orleans spicing, Emeril Lagasse’s kale and chorizo soup is an excellent way to incorporate more winter greens into your diet. The base of olive oil, chorizo, and onions can provide deep flavor provided you let them all caramelize together over a low heat, while potatoes and kale make the soup heartier and a few judicious spice additions give it a certain something. The recipe is very much open to interpretation too, as it seems that every Portuguese family has their own take on how to make this soup extra special; I love charring half a lemon and throwing that in at the very end to add a zippy acidity.