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40 soups and stews to warm you up this winter

Break out the slow cooker, Dutch oven or big cooking pot!
/ Source: TODAY

The days are shorter, the weather is colder, and winter is fully settled in for the season. But, on the bright side, it's the perfect time to break out the slow cooker, Dutch oven or any big ol' cooking pot and make hearty, warming, comforting and delicious wintry soups and stews.

The only real difference between a soup and a stew is the amount of liquid in the mix. Both dishes are generally easy to prepare, mostly use just one cooking vessel and yield easily freezable leftovers. These bubbling boils are also easy to customize for any food preference or dietary needs, their versatility is endless. So, take advantage of the long, cold nights to cook a brothy bowl of deliciousness that is comforting to the core.

Stews

A variety of fresh seafood and bright, tomatoey broth make this hearty stew reminiscent of a classic cioppino. The addition of spicy chorizo adds hot and smoky flavors that really make this dish a standout. Mussels, crabmeat and shrimp can be just the start, this dish can be customized this dish with any combination of shellfish.

Mexican Quinoa Stew

Loaded with beans, quinoa and veggies, this Mexican-inspired stew is guaranteed to make mouths water! This dish is vegan, but it also tasted great with some shredded chicken added into it or keep it veg-friendly with some tofu tossed in towards the end of the cooking process.

A deep, flavorful veggie stew is a must in the cold weather. This is a wintry take on ratatouille is loaded with sweet potato, parsnip and sage sausage. Be sure to serve it with a side of crusty bread for dipping.

Ready to try the best beef stew ever? This flavor-packed version is incredibly easy to make because it all comes together in one pot. Ketchup is the secret to balancing the bold, rich beefy flavors by adding a touch of sweetness and extra body to the sauce.

This is one of Padma Lashmi's favorite stews because it's both hearty and healthy. It's adapted from a dish originating in North India called rajma, which is made with kidney beans, but swapping those out for white beans gives it a buttery, creamier texture, though it's actually a vegan dish. You may serve it in a bowl over rice or with warmed tortillas.

Adam Richman's Chicken Chile Verde

Adam Richman gives chicken a stew a vibrant change of color in this warming recipe. "I think most people are used to the traditional brick red spicy, smoky chili that we all know and love," he says. "But in New Mexico, I was introduced to this delicious variation on the theme. The color is bright, it's still rich but oddly refreshing due to all the greens used in it."

When the weather starts to turn a little chilly, it's the perfect time to make a giant pot of beef stew. Searing the beef until it's super dark and toasting the tomato paste well before adding any liquids will result in the deepest beef stew flavor ever with very little effort. It's a great make-ahead comfort food and can easily be portioned and frozen for busy winter weeknights.

Sumac-Dusted Chana Masala

Chickpeas and other legumes are packed with fiber and plant-based protein and therefore deeply satisfying and healthy. In fact, their regular consumption is associated with enhanced health and longevity. The spices in this recipe are not just belly-warming and flavor-enhancing but also help the digestibility of the legumes, which can be challenging for some. This dish improves over time so make extras and freeze for a quick and delicious weeknight dinner.

Ikarian Stew

Ikarian Stew

The Blue Zones Solution

This savory one-pot meal fuses the iconic flavors of Ikaria with the faintest hint of sweet fennel. As is customary in Ikaria, a small amount of olive oil is used to sauté the vegetables, then a generous drizzle finishes the dish. This practice is instinctively brilliant: Heat breaks down the oil, so saving most for a final drizzle assures its rich flavor and maximum health benefits.

Beef Stew with Dill

Beef Stew with Dill

Justin Chapple

This lovely, lighter-than-most beef stew is one to make all winter long as it is simple and doesn't contain too many steps but can be varied in many ways, using whatever winter veggies or herbs you have on hand. It also tastes every better the next day or two days later. Make it in big batches on the weekend so you have it ready to just warm quickly for family dinner during the week.

Nkatsenkwan, as this dish is known in Ghana, is most frequently eaten with fufu (pounded green plantain), but you can also serve it with boiled yams, cassava or even rice. It's equally good served on its own with a sprinkling of gari (fermented, dried and ground cassava). Peanut butter may seem like a surprising ingredient for stew, but it adds so much nutty flavor and silky texture to the dish.

Green eggs and ham get a clever twist and delicious makeover in this hearty stew. White beans get cooked with savory ham and fresh leafy greens and served with a perfectly cooked fried egg on top. It's a very versatile dish which makes is great for clearing out the pantry and fridge.

Padma Lakshmi's Chicken and Pepper Stew

This is not your usual one-pot stew. Earthy peppers, tangy tomatillos, sweet dried apricots, briny olives and tart lemon juice make this easy chicken dish amazingly flavorful. Serve it with bread, rice, quinoa or on its own.

It doesn't get much more Irish than a pot of beef stew slow simmered with Guinness. Smoky bacon, sweet red peppers, fresh herbs and tender cubes of butternut squash make this humble dish a bit more refined. But in its essence, it's still a very traditional, warm and comforting Irish farmhouse-style dinner.

Miso-White Bean Stew

Miso paste is the secret to making this stew so deeply flavorful. When paired with the earthy beans, fresh greens, whole grains and fragrant aromatics the combination is much greater than the sum of its simple — and healthy — parts. Plus, the Parmesan rind adds a cheesy kick for a touch of indulgent flavor.

Giada's Slow-Cooker Beef Stew

Slow-cooker beef stew gets an Italian twist! Giada de Laurentiis adds Marsala wine and chopped sun-dried tomatoes to this easy make-ahead recipe. She also swaps traditional potatoes for kabocha squash to give it an extra nutrient and flavor boost.

Laura Vitale never makes this stew the same twice. It's always changing based on what's on hand, and it always comes out delicious. It's comforting and filling but also light. If you a rind or two of Parmesan in your freezer, add it at the beginning of the simmering stage to infuse your stew with the most delicious, cheesy flavor.

Brisket Beef Stew

This recipe is the perfect heartwarming feel-good food for winter. A rich red wine and tomato broth surrounds tender meat and veggies with a hearty helping of potatoes. Using well marbled brisket point instead of chuck gives the stew an even meatier flavor.

This dish, inspired by the Brazilian fish stew moqueca, is the ultimate comfort food. The creaminess of the coconut milk, the vibrant spices and the tangy tomato hits all the flavor notes on a cold day. The protein from the fish and the fiber from the vegetables are satiating and satisfying. This is a classic example of a healthy recipe that tastes decadent. Serve it with plain rice or turmeric scented cauliflower rice for a lower-carb option.

Soups

Silvia's Pozole Rojo

Silvia's Pozole Rojo

Marcela Valladolid

Pozole, one of Mexico's most iconic dishes, was first prepared by the Aztecs hundreds of years ago. The word "pozole" has Nahuatl (the language of the Aztecs) origins and means "foam" (pozolli in Nahuatl). It is thought to be a description of the appearance of the cooked hominy which, when properly prepared, puffs up and opens like a flower. The type of kernel used was white, called cacahuazintle and, once cooked, gave the appearance of a beautiful white foam. These days, you can find pozole made with pork, chicken or even seafood.

Mini Ravioli Soup

Mini Ravioli Soup

Laura Vitale

This recipe is a staple in Laura Vitale's household. "This recipe was born from leftovers, and every time I make it, it's slightly different depending on what I have on hand," she says. "My sister begs me to make this for her when she comes out. It's become a real family favorite, plus nobody can resist a mini ravioli!"

It's always smart to have a few meals in the freezer. This hearty soup from Padma Lakshmi is perfect for prepping ahead and enjoying another day. Pick a Saturday or Sunday and involve the whole family in making huge batches of different dishes; think things that are stew-y and freeze well. Then pack them in quart containers and just take out what's need when it's time to eat.

Seasonal Lentil Soup

Seasonal Lentil Soup

Dominique Khoury

This beautiful Lebanese dish is filled with nutrient rich lentils, vibrant seasonal vegetables and warm spices! It can be made in one large soup pot, enjoyed over several days for lunch or dinner and created in large batches to freeze for future family dinners to come. It is bursting with layers of wholesome, bright and delicious flavors and is enjoyed best with a slice of warm toast, family and friends!

Spicy Chicken and Orzo Soup

Melissa Clark puts leftover chicken to good use in this spicy soup. It's a great mid-week meal, as it's so cozy and comforting, while still being packed with nutrients. It's extra easy to make since the soup is made of mostly pantry ingredients and leftovers.

Slow-Cooker Minestrone Soup

It seems like there are as many recipes for the Italian vegetable soup known as minestrone as there are gorgeous, scenic vistas in Italy — neither of which is bad thing! Though this simple peasant dish typically includes beans and pasta in a tomato-based broth, all the vegetables that make up the bulk of the soup are left to the cook's discretion. This slow-cooker version keeps things hearty with cubes of tender potatoes, snappy green beans, and creamy cannellini beans, but you can always take your cue from the Italians and use this recipe as an excuse to cook up the odds and ends in your refrigerator's crisper.

When regular chicken noodle just doesn't cut it, it's time to add in some zesty flavors to change things up a bit. This Thai-inspired soup gets a tasty upgrade from spicy curry paste, creamy coconut milk and a squeeze of tart lime. The crisp veggies and tender noodles also add lots of satisfying textures to this exciting dish.

Anthony Contrino is all about warming up with a hot bowl of soup in the winter. "When the weather gets chilly, I love coming home to my apartment, lighting the fireplace and enjoying some leftover soup," he says. "This recipe is one of my favorites and I make it by the vat. If you are going to freeze the leftovers, cook the pasta separately and do not add it to the pot of soup until you're ready to serve."

This lentil soup, also known as dal, is Padma Lakshmi's go-to comfort food. "It's what I most crave when I come home after a long shoot," she says. "Every Indian family has their own version — the variations are boundless. I eat it at least once a week, if not more."

Slow-Cooker Farro Soup

This soup offers many important vitamins and minerals, and the high fiber content of the farro, kale and cannellini beans promote healthy digestion. This soup is as delicious as it is filling, and the slow cooker will also bring out the rich flavors this recipe has to offer.

Classic Chicken Noodle Soup

Katie Lee's chicken soup is as classic as it gets. It builds on a flavorful base of celery, carrots and onion then gets some heft from chicken breasts and egg noodles. With simple seasonings and a few fresh herbs, this soup comes together quickly and provides instant comfort.

People always think of butternut squash soup, but what about our good friend the sweet potato? This recipe is so full of flavor. Fresh garlic, onions and ginger build the foundation of this soup. The coconut milk brings richness, and the miso paste provides a well-rounded depth of flavor that can't be beat. Top this soup with toasted coconut flakes, creamy labneh, toasted sesame seeds and tangy sumac for a seriously delicious healthy dinner.

According to Gail Simmons, all her family wants from October through March is to eat is soup at every meal. "We have several favorites, and this is one of them. I love its smoky flavor and that it's packed with protein from chicken stock and hearty beans," she says. "Serve a piping hot bowl with some crusty bread and a bright side salad for the ultimate cozy, comforting meal at lunch or dinner. Like all soups, the flavors come together even more the longer it sits, so I make it in big batches to eat through the week or freeze. It tastes even better the next day."

Spicy Miso Ramen

Spicy Miso Ramen

Candice Kumai

This super oishii spicy ramen is made with basic pantry staples, such as miso paste and tahini. Ramen noodles can't be cooked and held; it must be eaten right away. Be sure to serve this fast and hot! Add extra Sriracha for heat and top it all off with a slightly runny, soft-boiled egg.

"The Pioneer Woman" Ree Drummond gets creative with her choice of noodles in this imaginative soup. "The soup is delicious, the noodles are big and bold and the ricotta 'dumplings' are such a yummy treat," she says. "It's perfect for when you can't decide between soup and lasagna!"

Nkrakra (Light Chicken Soup)

This light and spicy broth is so wonderfully warming on cold winter days. It's also great for staving off cold symptoms. The fiery flavors and spicy tingle from the Scotch bonnets, extra-hot chile powder and guinea pepper are sure to clear even the stuffiest sinuses and foggiest heads. It works every time!

One-Pot Potato Leek Soup

All the magic happens in just one pot for this recipe — allowing for minimal mess and super easy cleanup. The bright oniony flavors of the leeks and chives perk up the starchy potatoes. Like many soups, it's great for making in a big batch, portioning and freezing. This soup goes great on its own or as a side to a sandwich for lunch.

Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup

Kristen Little

This recipe is so accessible because it's easy to make with just a few pantry ingredients. It utilizes ingredients like beans, frozen or canned corn and any kind of broth. Increase the heat with green chilis and a splash of hot sauce. Don't forget to top the soup with tortilla chips for a crunchy finish.

Make something that's hot and sweet this winter. This butternut squash soup tingles with spicy, smoky chipotles and sweet maple syrup to tame the flame. Make this soup vegan by replacing chicken broth with vegetable broth and swapping in full-fat coconut milk for the heavy cream.

Soup Joumou

Soup Joumou

Dr. Jessica B. Harris

In recognition of the triumph of the Haitian Revolution, the resiliency of the Haitian ancestors, and the steadfastness of the Haitian people, soup joumou is consumed on Jan. 1 by Haitians wherever they are in the world.

Lidia Bastianich gives French onion soup an Italian makeover. Mushrooms add an extra layer of earthiness to the soup while slow-cooked caramelized onions add deep flavor. Toasty bread, melty fontina and nutty Grana Padano provide the perfect crunchy, cheesy topping.