If you are anything like me, cooking is a seasonal activity. In the summer, I can’t bear to be standing over the stove, preferring salads and fresh produce as much as possible. But in winter — that’s different. I love nothing more than a pot bubbling on the stove. Added bonus? A full square meal in a single bowl. Even better, kid-friendly winter soups are easy, nourishing and the quintessential comfort food.
Here are some of our favorite soup recipes, all of them kid-tested and approved at my very own table.
But First, A Few of My Favorite Soup Hacks
- Mirepoix (equal parts chopped celery, carrot and onion) is the base for many winter soups, and can be a bit of a hassle to prepare. Trader Joe’s just happens to stock containers of mirepoix in their produce section. I buy them in threes, one to use, two to freeze. In a pinch, I can even thaw one in the stock pot with a little water to steam.
- Kale is the BEST add-in to pack in vitamins when there’s no other veggies on the table. Chop it fine, and it’s almost tasteless for your more finicky family members.
- I poach chicken breasts six or so at a time in the crock pot, freezing them in twos to use in soups and stews at a later date. Depending on how I plan to use them, I add in a jar of salsa or just chicken broth, bay leaves and thyme. Cook on low heat for four hours, and they are perfect.
- I stopped chopping fresh garlic a long time ago. I just buy the jars (produce section of most grocery stores. Check around the tomato display) of chopped garlic and use it in almost every hot dish we make in the winter!
Chicken and Wild Rice
I just made this, using this recipe as a guide. But soups are so easy and forgiving, consider any recipe a guideline. Go with your gut! I used one container of mirepoix as a base, adding in a teaspoon of chopped garlic, sautéing until the onions are translucent. One cup of wild rice, and I adjusted the amount of chicken broth as I went. For my husband and I, I served it as is. After dishing out our portions, I stirred in heavy cream for the kids, garnishing all with a bit of chopped, fresh parsley. They loved it, and ate the leftovers for breakfast. True story!
Sausage, Potato and Kale
Kale for the win! No one in my house is interested in salad these days — it’s just too cold — so I specifically went hunting for a soup recipe that my kids would eat that contained kale. This is a riff on a traditional Portuguese soup my husband has made called Caldo Verde, but replacing spicy chorizo with sweet Italian sausage. Our favorite is by the Sausage Guys of Boston. I also used only broth, no water or milk, and sliced my potatoes thinly. Again, adding cream at the end can make this even heartier for hungry kiddos.
We all call this tortilla soup in my house, but it has no tortillas. In fancy restaurants, they serve it with crispy tortilla strips, but this is the real world. I ain’t got time for that! Super easy, and while one of our favorite kid-friendly winter soups, it’s also one of our stand-by meals, year round.
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 quart chicken broth
- 1 can fire-roasted chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 1 or 2 bay leaves
- 2 cup cooked chicken, chopped
- 1 can black beans, drained
- 1 cup frozen corn (we like the fire-roasted corn from Trader Joe’s)
Sauté the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until soft and translucent. Dump in broth, tomatoes, oregano, red pepper flakes, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer. Add chicken, black beans and corn, bring back to a simmer and it’s ready to serve. (Discard bay leaves.) It’s just that easy.
Garnish with any combination of fresh avocado, a dollop of sour cream, fresh cilantro and/or lime wedges. You can add a cup of rice (increase the amount of chicken broth accordingly) to make this more of a meal in itself, or just serve it with cheese quesadillas, nachos, or chips and salsa.
There you have it! Kid-friendly winter soups, kid-tested, and mother approved.