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Soup is ready! Are you hungry?

The days are getting colder, in some parts of the country there has even been snow! To me, that means it’s time for soup. Hot, hearty and comforting soups, stews and chowders. Not only are soups easy to prepare, but they are one of the most economical meals to make!

This time of year, your crock pot can be your best friend when it comes to soups and stews! Start them in the morning and by afternoon your house will be filled with the tempting aroma of a comforting pot of soup. Makes me hungry just thinking about it! Just recently, I purchased a new crock pot. This new one has an auto timer, a feature I am looking forward to testing out soon!

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One of my favorite warm up, comfort soups has got to be chowder. Just about any kind of chowder, even clam chowder, though I’ll admit I really don’t enjoy clams. I do like the flavor of the soup, but generally avoid the clams, thankfully there are plenty of clam loving people in my house to enjoy them for me. I think my favorite chowder recipe has got to be corn chowder. It’s perfect with a nice warm piece of corn bread.

Stew would be another top of my list comfort foods for fall and winter. Beef stewis one of my favorites. Thick, beefy and full of root vegetables, that’s how I love it! Top it off with some fluffy dumplings and you’ve got a meal that will stick to your ribs for sure!

Chicken soup is another favorite in my house. What could be more comforting than a steaming bowl of homemade chicken soup? Perhaps chicken and dumplings? It’s not as hard as it may sound. You can add dumplings to your favorite soup recipe in no time at all. My family loves it when I take the extra few minutes to add dumplings to the top of our chicken soup.

Following a recipe for soup has never been something that I have done much in my cooking. I generally go by what is sounding good at the time and what ingredients are available! A friend if mine, years ago, used to make a soup once a week or so with the leftover vegetables from the week. She just added them all to her favorite stock and cooked it up, made a tasty vegetable soup! Add a bit of rice to the pot and you’ll have a hearty pot of soup that will drive away the chill.

I’ll often add a bit of crushed tomatoes to my soups and stews, it adds a richness to the flavor that just can’t be beat! Even a bit of tomato paste will add richness to your favorite vegetable or beef soup.

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Let’s not forget the chili! Spicy, beefy goodness. Add a bit of sour cream and your favorite shredded cheese and you will have a hearty warm up at the end of the day. My family loves chili, it’s one of those dishes that we enjoy year round. It takes on a whole different feel this time of year though. Taking the lid off of a simmering pot of spicy chili just says “comfort” to me.

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To round out your bowl of soup, chili, stew or chowder, you’ll want to have a tasty piece of bread, a dinner roll or a pan of corn bread. Having a bit of bread to help get every last drop of tasty soup or stew is almost a must, in my mind.

Get creative with your soup, even a pot of creamy potato soup is a hearty and tasty way to finish a day! It doesn’t take long and if you use your crock pot to do most of the work for you, you’ll come home to a steaming pot of yummy soup. One word of advice, if you are using your crock pot for a creamy soup, never add the cream or milk to your soup until just before serving. The end result will be a creamy soup, not a curdled mess. Trust me, not appealing when you are craving that tasty bowl of corn chowder.

Stay warm! Eat more soup!