Hearty Soups and Stews

Warm up on chilly days with these flavorful, healthy recipes.

Photo of two hearty soups

Soups and stews are perfect cold-weather comfort food — flavorful, warming meals that are filled with nutrients.

“The lovely thing about soups and stews are that when they simmer on the stove your whole house fills with a great aroma,” says Emilie Berner, chef and coordinator at NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital’s Chef Peter X. Kelly Teaching Kitchen. “When you have that connection and awareness of food, it usually leads to less overeating, better absorption of nutrients, and better digestion.”

Many soups feature a variety of healthy ingredients, such as vegetables and beans, so there’s no denying that they pack a nutritional punch. But there’s another bonus: they are simple to make and convenient to reheat in a pinch. “One pot, easy to clean, easy to freeze,” says Berner. “You can pretty much throw anything into the pot and let it simmer and the flavors will unite. You can use any recipe as a template and then experiment by adding leftover veggies from your fridge — all that variety in one pot is just really good for you. And they keep well in the freezer.”

Berner shared with Health Matters some of her favorite soup and stew recipes for winter.

Photo of hearty soup

Tomato and Cannellini Bean Stew With Spinach

Berner’s tip: “I love how this recipe uses some run-of-the-mill staples, such as canned tomatoes. Add in more spinach for an even more veggie-filled version.”

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients
Beans
1 cup dried cannellini or other small white beans soaked overnight, or 1 can of white beans (28 oz.), drained and rinsed, low-sodium preferable. (Skip the “Beans” preparation if using canned.)
1 onion, quartered through root end
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt (to taste)

Stew
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained (low-sodium preferable)
1⁄2 tsp (or more) crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt (to taste)
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, sliced very thinly
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
3 cups vegetable broth (low-sodium preferable)
1 cup spinach, cleaned
Parmesan rind (optional)
1⁄4 cup Parmesan, shaved (low-fat preferable)

Directions
Beans
1. Combine beans, onion, garlic, and bay leaves in a large pot and add cold water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, add several pinches of salt, and reduce heat to low.
2. Continue to cook at a bare simmer until beans are creamy but still hold their shape, 35 to 45 minutes.
3. Let beans cool in cooking liquid; discard bay leaves and drain.
Do Ahead: Beans can be cooked 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Stew
1. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and cook tomatoes, undisturbed, until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Break up tomatoes, scraping bottom of pot, and continue to cook, scraping and stirring occasionally. Transfer tomatoes to a bowl.
2. Heat another 2 Tbsp olive oil in same pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook, stirring often, until they are soft and starting to brown around edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Add vinegar, tomatoes, and cheese rind (if using), scraping up browned bits. Add beans to pot along with broth. Bring to a simmer; season with salt. Cook until flavors meld, 30 to 45 minutes.
3. Just before serving, stir in spinach and cook until wilted. Ladle soup into bowls and top with cheese shavings.

This will keep in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days, or in the freezer up to 3 months.

Curry in a Hurry Red Lentil Soup

Curry in a Hurry Red Lentil Soup

Berner’s tip: “This soup features all these great spices, which are secret nutritional powerhouses. Don’t shy away from your spice cabinet — spices add great flavor, and some contain antioxidants and support digestion.”

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients
1 cup dried red lentils
5 cups vegetable stock (low-sodium preferable)
4 carrots, cut into thick slices
1 yam or sweet potato, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 onions, cut in chunks and separated
1⁄2 cup turnip or potato, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1⁄2 head green cabbage, sliced
2 tsp each: cardamom, garam masala, curry powder (more to taste)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
3 Tbsp olive oil (or another plant-based oil)
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Directions
1. Bring stock to boil with lentils, skim foam, and lower to simmer.
2. Chop vegetables into chunks and add to pot, saving 1 onion, cilantro, and spices for later.
3. Simmer on low for 45 minutes.
4. While soup is cooking, in a saute pan, saute remaining onion in olive oil until fragrant, then add spices.
5. Add onion-spice mixture to soup pot, along with lemon juice and zest, and stir to mix. You can use some of the liquid from the soup to deglaze the pan from the spices, then add it back into the pot.
6. Garnish generously with cilantro.

This will keep in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days, or in the freezer up to 3 months.

Potato and Leek Soup

Potato and Leek Soup

Berner’s tip: “This is a nice comforting soup that’s just five ingredients. You don’t have to go through a whole laundry list, and the end result is delicious.”

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 lb leeks (about 3 medium leeks), chopped
2 stalks celery (about 1/2 cup), chopped
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or another plant-based oil)
4 cups vegetable stock (low-sodium preferable) or water
1 lb russet or Yukon Gold potatoes (about 3 medium potatoes), peeled and cut into slices or chunks
Salt (to taste)
Freshly cracked black pepper
Chopped parsley or chervil for garnish

Directions
1. In a medium pot, over a medium flame, heat the oil gently.
2. Add the leeks and celery, and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, until tender, translucent, and ever so slightly browned.
3. Add the potatoes, vegetable stock or water, and salt if using. Turn up the heat, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer.
4. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Puree using a blender or hand blender.
5. Garnish with freshly cracked black pepper and herbs.

This will keep in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days, or in the freezer up to 3 months.

Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup

Berner’s tip: “This soup is filling and hydrating. We often think about like hydration as being solely important in the summer, but winter is really drying too.”

Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or another plant-based oil)
2 medium onions, chopped (red, white, or yellow)
1 green pepper, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 tsp dried oregano
4 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (use 1/4 teaspoon if you’re sensitive to spice)
4 cans (15 oz each) black beans, rinsed and drained (low-sodium preferable)
4 cups (32 oz) vegetable/chicken broth or water (low-sodium preferable)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
1 to 2 tsp vinegar (to taste), or 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp brown sugar (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Optional garnishes: diced avocado, extra cilantro, thinly sliced radishes, tortilla chips (whole-wheat preferable)

Directions
1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and green pepper and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes.
2. Add the garlic, oregano, cumin, red pepper flakes, and 2 tsp salt and stir for another minute.
3. Pour in the vinegar and scrape any browned bits from bottom of pan with a wooden spoon. This is your sofrito.
4. Pour in the beans and broth and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook, reducing heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer, until the broth is flavorful and the beans are very tender, about 30 minutes.
5. Transfer about 4 cups of the soup to a stand blender, securely fasten the lid, and blend until smooth. (Never fill your blender past the maximum fill line, and beware the steam that escapes from the top of the blender; it’s very hot.) Or, use an immersion blender to blend a portion of the soup.
6. Return the pureed soup to the pot, stir in the cilantro, lime juice, and salt and pepper, to taste, then garnish and serve with white rice.

This will keep in the refrigerator 5 to 7 days, or in the freezer up to 3 months.

Green Lentil Soup

Green Lentil Soup

Berner’s tip: “This soup is super family-friendly in terms of flavors. Plus, lentils pack a ton of fiber and are a great plant-based source of protein.”

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients
2 Tbsp olive oil (or another plant-based oil)
1 cup onion, diced
Salt (to taste)
1 Tbsp garlic, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 1/2 tsp herbes de Provence (or 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/4 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp rosemary, and 1/2 tsp ground fennel seed)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
1 (14.5 oz) canned diced tomatoes (low-sodium preferable)
1 cup dried French green lentils, rinsed well
6 cups vegetable broth or water (low-sodium preferable)
1 bay leaf
3 cups spinach, chopped (or 1 1/2 cups frozen spinach)
Juice of 1 lemon

Directions
1. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat.
2. Add onion and salt. Saute 5 to 10 minutes until golden.
3. Add garlic, carrots, celery, herbs, and salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are tender and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
4. Stir in tomatoes and lentils.
5. Add the broth and bay leaf. Increase heat, cover pot, and bring to a boil.
6. Once boiling, reduce temperature and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes.
7. Fold in the spinach, and remove the bay leaf. Add lemon juice, and more salt and pepper if needed.

This will keep in the refrigerator 5 to 7 days, or in the freezer up to 3 months

Additional Resources

  • Find more recipes in our Soup Cookbook.

    Watch virtual cooking classes with Chef Emilie Berner here.