Cauliflower soup

Photo: Victoria Pearson

The Winter Warmer You Can Dress Up or Down
Creamed soups can be difficult; they sometimes taste heavy, and when you try to lighten them up with low-fat dairy, that makes the soup even more vulnerable to curdling. But this creamed cauliflower soup from The Lemonade Cookbook (a collection of recipes from the Lemonade chainlet of Southern California health-minded restaurants) is thickened with potatoes and just a bit of full-fat cream, so it tastes silky without being overwhelmingly rich—and won't curdle when you're cooking it. The all-occasion soup works equally well as the first course at a dinner party, or the main on a casual night, with some crusty bread—you can even serve it as a sauce topped with fish or shellfish. And trust us when we tell you, homemade chicken stock really does make a difference. (It's a lot easier to make than you'd think.)

Get the recipe: Creamed Cauliflower Soup
Tortilla soup

Photo: Victoria Pearson

The Chili Alternative
When you don't know how many people are coming to dinner—or what their tastes are—a big pot of ground meat, beans and tomatoes is a terrific option, since each guest can customize their portion with the toppings they prefer. This recipe for tomato-based tortilla soup from The Lemonade Cookbook features similar flavors—chili powder, cayenne, cumin—and also plays well with fixings such as avocado, cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheese and lime. Yet, unlike chili, it's just a bit unexpected (but just as hearty and delicious).

Get the recipe: Tortilla Soup
Southern Pasta e Fagioli

Photo: Andrew Purcell

A Big Bowl of Italian Comfort Food, by Way of the American South
Sunny Anderson, one of O's food columnists, puts a new spin on the Italian classic with her Southern pasta e fagioli (that's Italian for "pasta and beans"). The usual suspects are all here—cannellini beans, tubetti pasta, rosemary—but Anderson throws in potatoes, black-eyed peas and smoky ham hock. They may be untraditional additions, but the flavors meld perfectly.

Get the recipe: Southern Pasta e Fagioli
Green Pea and Mint Soup

Photo: Thinkstock

The 15-Minute Health Bowl
A big bag of frozen peas may not seem like the base for a warm and satisfying dinner, but this grocery-store staple has the amazing ability to transform into a flavorful and filling dish. The key is to start with a garlic and scallion sauté: It gives the finished soup great depth. A hefty dose of mint and lemon juice make it taste bright and fresh.

Get the recipe: Green Pea and Mint Soup
Chicken soup

Photo: Thinkstock

The Surprisingly Simple Standard
There are so many reasons to love the elixir that is chicken noodle soup, but one we don't often consider is how uncomplicated it is. This recipe—so basic and so perfect—calls for broth, a chicken, carrots, onions, celery, herbs and egg noodles. That's it.

Get the recipe: Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup

Next: 12 February weeknight dinners