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Slow cooker red and white chicken chili with French onion biscuits are a great way to warm up on a winter night. 

Along with the cold of winter comes the desire for a warm and comforting bowl of soup. Soup has many advantages for any cook. It can be made with a variety of ingredients that you find stored in your refrigerator or cupboard; it can make a complete meal; you can put together a hearty soup in a short period of time and it can be left to simmer in the slow cooker all day.

The popular Instant Pot pressure cooker is also a handy appliance to use for soup making. Soup is also a handy ready-to-go meal to have on hand in the freezer. I usually make a stock pot full and then freeze the leftovers in individual serving-size freezer bags. A bowl of chicken noodle soup is usually recommended as the perfect antidote for a cold as well. If you are ready to be nourished by a delicious bowl of soup, I’ve put together a variety of satisfying options to try.

Slow cooker red and white chicken chili

This bean and chicken chili is not your typical chili. It doesn’t have the tomato base most chilies have, and has a milder flavor as well. If you prefer a spicier flavor, place a bottle of red pepper sauce on the table for diners to add the amount they like. The fresh lime the soup is served with adds a spark of flavor to the dish.

Servings: 6 (1½ cups each)

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, chopped (¾ cup)

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons ground cumin

⅛ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

1 (15 oz. to 16 oz.) can great northern beans, drained

1 (15 oz.) can dark red kidney beans, drained

2 (4.5 oz. each) cans chopped green chilies, undrained

2 (14 oz. each) cans chicken broth

2 teaspoons powdered chicken bouillon

2 pounds chicken thighs or turkey thighs, skin removed

1 cup frozen shoepeg white corn, thawed (can also use yellow)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

¼ cup water

1 lime, cut into wedges, if desired

Directions:

In 4- to 5-quart slow cooker, mix onion, garlic, cumin, ground red pepper, great northern beans, kidney beans, green chilies and chicken broth. Place chicken on top of bean mixture. Cover; cook on Low heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or High setting for 5 to 6 hours. Remove chicken from cooker. Remove meat from bones and shred or cut into bite-sized pieces; discard bones. Add chicken and corn to cooker. In small bowl, mix flour and water; stir into chicken mixture. Increase heat setting to High. Cover; cook 20 to 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated and slightly thickened. Serve individual servings with lime wedges for squeezing juice over chili. Source: Betty Crocker, “Soups Stews and Chilies,” 2007.

Minestrone with Italian sausage

Minestrone is an Italian flavored hearty soup containing a variety of healthy vegetables and beans along with pasta, and frequently sausage or hamburger. If you want a vegetarian version, take out the Italian sausage, add an additional can of great northern beans and use vegetable broth in place of the beef broth.

Servings: 7

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil

1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage

1 medium onion, chopped (½ cup)

2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped (1 cup)

2 teaspoons dried basil leaves

2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic

3 (14 oz.) cans beef broth

1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 (15.5 oz.) can great northern beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup uncooked small elbow macaroni (3.5 oz.)

1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise in half, then cut into ¼-inch slices (1 cup)

1 cup frozen cut green beans

Directions:

In a 5-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook sausage, onion, carrots, basil and garlic in oil 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until sausage is no longer pink; drain. Stir broth, tomatoes and great northern beans into sausage mixture. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in macaroni, zucchini and green beans; heat to boiling. Cook over medium-high heat 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables are hot and macaroni is tender. Source: “Betty Crocker So Simple,” Wiley Publishing, Inc.

Garden vegetable soup

You will get your daily servings of vegetables in a bowl of this delicious, nutritious, colorful and comforting soup.

Servings: 10 – about 3 quarts

Ingredients:

1 small head cabbage (about 1 pound), chopped

3 medium green peppers, chopped

2 medium sweet red peppers, chopped

4 medium onions, chopped (about 1½ cups)

3 celery ribs, chopped

6 medium tomatoes or 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes

4 cups chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

¼ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a large kettle or Dutch oven, combine all ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 2 hours or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaf. Source: “Taste of Home Cooking School Brand Name Cookbook,” 2009.

Southern ham and sweet potato chowder

From one end of the country to the other, you will find favorite chowders, a soup usually made with some type of seafood, vegetables and cream or milk. This quick-to-fix chowder uses ham rather than seafood and sweet potatoes instead of the typical potatoes.

Servings: 6 – 8

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

½ cup chopped carrot

4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

2 cups chopped, peeled sweet potatoes

1 cup half-and-half

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups cubed cooked reduced-sodium ham

2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese (8 oz.)

¼ cup sliced green onions

Directions:

In a 6-quart Dutch oven melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrot; cook 7 minutes or until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally. Add broth and sweet potatoes. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 8-10 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender. In a bowl, whisk together half-and-half and flour; add to soup mixture along with ham. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Stir in cheese until melted and smooth. Top with green onions. Source: Better Homes & Gardens Special Interest Publication, “Soups and Stews,” 2016.

French onion biscuits

What accompanies a steaming bowl of soup more than fresh warm bread? Try serving these tasty French Onion Biscuits that are quick and easy to make using prepared biscuit mix and French onion dip. If you prefer, any type of sour cream dip can be used in place of the French onion to make the dough. Melted butter can be brushed on the top after baking and then sprinkle with fresh herbs or garlic salt.

Makes 6 – 8 biscuits

Ingredients:

2 cups Bisquick mix

¼ cup milk

1 (8 oz.) container French onion dip

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In medium bowl, combine onion dip and milk; stir in biscuit mix. Stir all ingredients until soft dough forms. On ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough into 6 to 8 mounds. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Serve warm. Source: Betty Crocker, “Soups Stews and Chilies,” 2007.

Bernie Mason writes the Local Flavor column for Lee Montana Newspapers. She was a Yellowstone County extension agent for 24 years. Mason grew up in Sidney in a family of German and Danish ancestry.

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