January is my month for culinary hibernation. When the New Year arrives, I come in from the cold, hole up in my kitchen, and experiment with soups, stews, and slow-cooked delights. My method is simple: In the winter, I stock up on tons of hardy vegetables. Then, when it's time to make dinner, I haul all that veggie goodness out of my fridge and go to town.
In addition to being easy, these soups are nourishing and inexpensive, and they warm you up from the inside out. Hibernating is fun only if the food in your cave is tasty, and for me each of these soups is a rich, thick pot of "Hello, winter!"
2. Southern Pasta e Fagioli
For my Southern take on pasta e fagioli (that's Italian for "pasta and beans"), I love to start with the classic soup base of onions, celery, and carrots, before throwing in potatoes, black-eyed peas, and smoky ham hock, then simmering everything in dark beer. Instead of a ham hock, you can also use a smoked turkey leg or a slab of bacon cut into chunks.
Get the recipe: Southern Pasta e Fagioli
3. Kale Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Sausage
This soup is a little spicy, a lot meaty, and full of good-for-you greens.
Get the recipe: Kale Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Sausage
4. Chicken and Andouille Gumbo
This gumbo takes way less time to make than most, but it's just as flavorful and bold; if you can find gumbo filé powder in your local supermarket's spice section, shake a bit over your bowl (as you would salt) for a distinctly earthy flavor.
Get the recipe: Chicken and Andouille Gumbo
Next: The surprisingly fast and amazing way to cook chicken