It’s so easy this time of year to get all caught up in trussing turkeys, making cranberry sauce and perfecting Grandma’s stuffing recipe before moving on to other holiday goodies. Chillier temperatures also mean the start of something else: soup season. Of course you can easily enjoy chilled soups in the warmer, summery months or, if you’re a die-hard soup fanatic (like ourselves), you can even enjoy those warm soups on warm days. But in my humble, food-lovin’ opinion, right around the time the first snowflakes start to fly is the ideal time and there’s nothing like cozying up to a steamy bowl of soup on a cold night. To get you started, here’s some of our favorite soup recipes that we’ve been making…

cauliflower soupRoasted Cauliflower and Parmesan Soup

Pureed soups are a personal favorite with us and it’s a great way to cram lots of hearty veggies into one pot. Once the mixture is cooked through and pureed, you’re left with a flavorful, rich and velvety soup.

– 1 head cauliflower
– ½ onion, diced
– 1 large potato, scrubbed clean, peeled and diced
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
– ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
– Olive oil for roasting
– Truffle oil (to taste, and optional)
– Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the cauliflower into even-sized pieces and spread in a single layer onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables for about 30 minutes, turning them about halfway through until they start to brown on the edges and become soft. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized pot, heat a drizzle of olive oil and add the onions and a pinch of salt. Sweat the onions until they become translucent, then, add the garlic and cook for a minute more. Add the potatoes to the pot and just enough water to cover them. Add the thyme and bring potato-onion mixture to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender. Let the mixture cool a bit and working in small batches, use a blender to puree the cauliflower, potatoes and potato water. Return to a clean pan and add the Parmesan cheese. Heat the soup until the cheese melts. If using, add truffle oil, season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with Parmesan cheese and a couple of fresh thyme leaves.

french onion soupFrench Onion Soup

– 2-3 marrow bones
– 6 onions; 2 of them cut into fourths, 4 of them cut into thin half-moon slices
– 4 carrots, scrubbed and cut into 1 inch pieces
– 4 celery stalks, cleaned and cut into 1 inch pieces
– Olive Oil for the pan + 1 pat of butter
– 3 Bay leaves
– 7 sprigs of fresh thyme
– Salt and Pepper to taste
– Splash of Sherry Vinegar
– Sourdough Bread, cubed and toasted (any bread you have on hand works well here too)
– Enough shredded Gruyere cheese for the top of each soup

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a foil lined baking sheet, roast marrow bones until they start to get fragrant and brown a bit. Remove from oven and set aside. In a medium size skillet, melt 1 pat of butter and enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Add the thinly sliced onions and a generous pinch of salt. Stir onions to coat them in butter/olive oil mixture and reduce heat to low, continuing to stir every once in a while until the onions are very soft and deep brown in color.

In a stock pot, Add the other two onions, celery and carrots. Add a pinch of salt and sweat the vegetables until they start to get a little golden in spots. Add the marrow bones, bay leaf and thyme. Add just enough water to cover the bones and vegetables in the pot. Bring water to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Continue to simmer for at least 4 hours, preferably 6-8 hours.

Strain the liquid and discard the vegetables and bones. Return liquid to pot and add caramelized onions. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Sherry Vinegar. Ladle into oven safe bowls and top with croutons and cheese. Heat until the cheese melts and serve immediately.

chicken posoleChicken Posole Soup

– 4-5 large chicken bone-in chicken thighs
– 1 can of Hominy
– 2 ancho dried ancho chilies
– 3 large carrots, largely diced
– 1 onion, diced
– 1 carton button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
– 1 TBS ground cumin
– 1 TBS ground coriander
– 1 bay leaf
– 3 sprigs fresh thyme
– 1/4 cup cornmeal flour
– Extra Virgin Olive Oil for the pan
– Salt and Pepper to taste
– Lime wedges and cilantro to garnish

Boil water in a kettle and pour hot water over the dried ancho chilis. Set them aside and let the chilies plump up (about 20-30 minutes). Removed chilies from water and discard the stems and seeds. Place the chilies in a blender and add a bit of water. Puree until as smooth as possible and set aside.

Coat the bottom of a heavy dutch oven with olive oil and heat until very hot. Using a thick paper towel, dry the chicken thighs and season generously with salt. Place skin side down in the hot oil and sear the outside of the chicken until golden brown and crispy. Set aside the seared meat and add the mushrooms. Heat the mushrooms until cooked through and then add the onions and carrots and a generous pinch of salt. Sweat the vegetables for a couple of minutes and then add the chicken back to the pan. Add the chili puree, cumin, coriander, thyme and bay leaf and then add just enough water to cover the chicken. Add the cornmeal flour and hominy. Bring the soup to a boil, and then reduce it to simmer. Let the soup simmer for about 45 minutes and then remove chicken, let it cool, and remove skin and bone, and pull the chicken meat. Return it to the pot and serve with lime wedges and cilantro.

Contributed by Chefs Richard Chudy and Katie Barszcz of The Skinny Beet.  A native Bostonian, Richard Chudy graduated from the Professional Chef’s Program at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in 2007 and started a private chef business.  When he’s not busy in the kitchen, he runs Boston Burger Blog, his ongoing quest for the perfect burger in Boston.  Katie started her blog, The Small Boston Kitchen, in December of 2009 as a way to document her hours spent in the kitchen, as well as her eating adventures throughout the Greater Boston area.  In January 2011, Katie attended the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, where she received her Culinary Certificate. Katie co-owns a personal chef and catering business, The Skinny Beet