Soup for the soul: These recipes will keep you warm on a cold winter’s night

BUCKHANNON – Although temperatures are relatively warmer this week, snow and colder temperatures are in the forecast for next week.

And after all, groundhog meteorologist extraordinaire French Creek Freddie did predict six more weeks of winter.

Venturing out in freezing and subzero temperatures – the type that cause you to see your breath in the chilly air and make uncovered body parts tingle – make me think of one thing: warming up with a favorite bowl of steamy, delicious homemade soup.

When my children were younger, one of their favorite things to do with their father when the weather report predicted freezing temperatures and lots of snowfall was to perform their ritual to guarantee a snow day being called the next morning.

They would begin singing the two-hour delay song and turn their pajamas inside out. This ritual was my cue to make sure I had all the ingredients handy to stir up a batch of their favorite soup – “School’s Cancelled Hearty Potato Soup.”

On these cold and snowy days, my husband, who was a teacher, would make sure the snow day was fun for the kids. They would often go sled riding, build a snowman or igloo and have snowball battles. They would hike in the snowstorms looking for signs of spring, poking through the snow or performing experiments like throwing warm water into below zero air and watching it form a cloud and blowing frozen bubbles.

And when they would come in from their antics, they expected soup to warm them up.

Here’s the secret to my soup.

School’s Cancelled Hearty Potato Soup
2 tbsp. butter
1 medium red onion, diced
2 leeks, sliced and soaked in water
1 celery rib, sliced
2 whole carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1 clove garlic, sliced thin
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 ears of fresh corn, removed from the cob
6 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
1 envelope instant mashed potato mix
1 cup cubed cheddar cheese or Velveeta cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Sauté onion, leeks, celery, carrots and garlic in butter until soft and translucent. Add potatoes and corn then sauté 3-5 minutes. Stir in chicken broth and simmer on low for 30 minutes. Add half-and-half and cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Add instant mashed potatoes until desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy.

Aside from being warm and tasty, I think soups bring families together – when theyare cooked, when recipes are shared and even when family members talk about soup. There is something about soup that warms not only the body, but the soul.

Buckhannon resident Heather Pizzino Lane was excited to share her favorite soup recipe for this article but said she would have to call her mother, Carol Pizzino, of Elkins, to get the recipe.

“Even though this is my favorite soup, I haven’t written the recipe down,” Lane explained, saying her mother has been making the soup for several years now.

“I have a soup I like to make, and the recipe came from my mom,” she said. “I didn’t write down the instructions because I like to call her when I make it, just to be sure I’m doing it right. I could write it down, but then I wouldn’t need to call her.”

So, when Lane decides to make her mom’s famous chicken and wild rice soup, she starts by picking up the phone, calling her mother and sharing the experience of creating a nice warm soup – a special bonding time for this mother and daughter.

“It’s more of a reason to talk to her, than me really needing the details,” Lane shared.

Curious about the recipe? Here it is:

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup of sliced carrots
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sage
6 cups chicken broth
One box Uncle Ben’s Long Grain Wild Rice (with season packet)
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (I add more)
3/4 cup half and half
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Sauté onion, carrot and sage in olive oil for approximately 5 minutes. Add chicken broth, box of rice and seasoning packet. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the chicken, mushrooms, half and half, salt and pepper and heat. Enjoy!

Upshur Senior Center Director Sarah Campbell shared a soup recipe that she said was a family favorite beginning when she was a teenager.

“When I was in high school, my mom and stepdad, Diane and Daryl Barnhart, decided they were going to be goat farmers,” Campbell said. “Our favorite soup was chili, and my mom made it all the time. When I get sick and then feel better, my mom’s chili is the first thing I want.”

Campbell said when they started their goat farm, they decided to try out something new and use goat meat in their chili. Unfortunately, their first attempt at goat meat chili was not very successful.

“It tasted terrible,” Campbell said, laughing.

But through trial and error and asking others for their suggestions, she said the family perfected their chili using goat meat instead of ground beef. She said they learned the key to unlocking the perfect goat chili is marinating the goat meat in the spices before cooking it.

“We changed up the spices a little bit and making chili is a tradition in our family now,” she said. “My little sister, Kia Barnhart, will call me and ask me to make chili. So, we marinate the goat meat for a few hours before we put it in. Everyone questions that we eat goat chili, but it is so good! When people eat it, they always like it. And goat meat is so much healthier.”

Campbell said when she’s at her parent’s home, she uses home canned tomato sauce.

“When I moved to college, I found I didn’t have access to home canned tomato juice anymore,” Campbell said. “I called my mom, and we had to improvise the recipe. My recipe has kind of evolved and isn’t exactly like my mom’s, but it is close.”

Goat Chili
2 lbs. ground goat or ground beef
2 to 3 tbsp. chili powder
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Sprinkle of red chili pepper seeds, to taste
2 15-ounce cans of red kidney beans with juice
1 small can diced tomatoes
1 large can of tomato juice
1 tbsp. vinegar

Directions: Mix meat and spices and let it marinate for at least 2 hours up to overnight. Fry meat mixture until brown and drain grease. Add kidney beans, tomatoes and juice and cook until flavors marry and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Add the vinegar at the end to take out the tomato taste.

No matter which soup you favor, take time to share some warm soup with those you love.

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