Crave: Souper comfort food

photo by: Lori Dunn/Mother Earth News

Fall is a time of rejuvenation after the busy summer and spring seasons. Everything slows down in preparation for winter, from the garden to time spent outside and how we cook. We’re eager to have a simmering pot of stew on the stove, warming both heart and home. Slow-cooking allows for ingredients to be thrown together, and several hours later, voilà, a flavorful, filling meal.

Soup recipes are a dime a dozen, but we searched through our archives for the best of the best from-scratch variations. Here are a handful of time-tested, rustic recipes that are sure to stick to your ribs this fall and winter.

Any of these recipes are made even better with homemade broths, home-canned vegetables and local meat.

Wild Mushroom Beef Stew


2 pounds stew beef, cut into 1-inch pieces

1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 teaspoon pepper

1⁄2 teaspoon dried crushed thyme leaves

3⁄4 cup beef broth

1⁄4 cup tomato paste

1⁄4 cup dry red wine

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound red potatoes, 1 1⁄2-inch diameter, cut into quarters

8 ounces assorted fresh mushrooms, such as shiitake, cremini and oyster, cut into quarters

1 cup baby carrots

Fresh parsley, optional


1. Place beef in 41⁄2- to 51⁄2-quart slow-cooker. In small bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper and thyme. Sprinkle over beef in slow-cooker and toss to coat.

2. In another small bowl, combine broth, tomato paste, wine and garlic; mix well. Pour over beef mixture. Add potatoes, mushrooms and carrots and mix well.

3. Cover and cook on high for 5 to 6 hours or on low for 8 to 9 hours, or until beef and vegetables are tender. No stirring is necessary during cooking.

4. Stir well. Garnish with parsley, if desired, and serve hot. Yields 6 (1 1⁄2-cup) servings.

Easy Jambalaya


2 tablespoons olive oil

3⁄4 cup diced smoked ham

1 smoked sausage, sliced 1⁄2-inch thick

1 pound boneless pork loin, cubed

1 1⁄2 cups chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 large green pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1⁄2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

2 bay leaves

1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt

1 1⁄2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon white pepper

1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon thyme

4 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped

8 ounces tomato sauce

14 1⁄2 ounces chicken broth

1⁄2 cup chopped green onion

2 cups rice, uncooked


1. In large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Stir in ham, sausage and pork; sauté until lightly browned, 4 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in onion, celery and green pepper; sauté until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, hot pepper sauce, bay leaves, salt, oregano, white pepper, black pepper and thyme. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly and scraping bottom of pan.

2. Stir in tomatoes, and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato sauce and chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Stir in green onion and rice.

3. Cover and bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until rice is tender. Remove bay leaves and serve immediately. Yields 10 servings.

Chicken and Dumplings


1 broiler chicken, dressed and cut into 8 pieces (3 to 5 pounds)


1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons salt, divided

2 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons lard, cold and coarsely chopped

1 cup milk


1. Place chicken pieces in large saucepan with enough water to cover. Add pepper and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and simmer until chicken is tender, about 1 hour.

2. To prepare dumplings, combine flour, baking powder and remaining salt in large bowl. Using pastry blender or fork, cut in lard until mixture resembles coarse crumbles. Add milk, 1⁄4 cup at a time, and mix until soft dough forms; set aside.

3. When chicken is fully cooked and no longer pink at bone, transfer to cutting board. Remove skin, shred chicken, and discard bones or set them aside for later use.

4. Return shredded chicken to pot. Bring stew to boiling. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls into pot. Cover pot and boil for 12 minutes, or until dumplings have doubled in size. Serve immediately. Yields 6 servings.


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