Some people love wintertime. For me, a fire in the wood-burning stove, candles lit at dinner time and a tasty bowl of hot, hearty soup make the season bearable.

I’m talking about homemade, not canned soup. While not quite as easy as opening a can, homemade soup is simple to make. It’s a versatile one-dish meal, where you can throw in whatever needs to be eaten from the fridge. Remember the stone soup story?

Since soup freezes well, I like to cook a big pot and freeze half for a busy day. Or leave in the fridge and eat later in the week.

During the winter months, I prioritize getting enough sleep and eating nutrient-dense foods to keep well. This great tasting soup, served with bread, has everything you need for a complete immune-boosting meal.

Collard, Bean and Sausage SoupServes 6

Ingredients:

2 TB olive oil

12 oz beef or turkey Polska Kiebasa Sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices

1 1/2 cups chopped carrots (about 3)

1 medium chopped yellow onion

3 stalks chopped celery

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 (14 oz cans) low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, or equivalent home-made broth

1 TB dried parsley (or 3 TB fresh)

1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed

1/2 tsp dried oregano

Ground black pepper, to taste

3 TB sundried tomatoes, chopped

6 oz (5 or 6 collard green leaves), chopped

2 (15.5 oz) cans Great Northern or other favorite beans

Shredded parmesan cheese, for serving

Instructions:

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage and cook until slightly browned, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Remove sausage, while leaving oil in pan, and drain on a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.

Return pot with oil to medium-low heat. Add carrots, onion, and celery and sauté around 5 minutes (while scraping bottom of pan to get the browned bits), add garlic and sauté 1 minute longer. Stir in chicken broth, parsley, rosemary, oregano, sundried tomatoes and season with pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and allow to simmer 5 minutes. Add collards and allow to simmer 15 minutes longer until veggies are tender. Stir in cooked sausage and beans, adding more broth at this point to thin if desired. To serve, top each bowl with parmesan cheese.

Here is my favorite chicken noodle soup recipe. You will enjoy it when you are healthy, but it’s also great for sick days.

Hearty Chicken Noodle SoupIngredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped celery

1 garlic clove, minced

2 cups diced chicken. May use left-over chicken.

8 cups chicken broth

½ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning

2 cups dried noodles of choice

Instructions:

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium low heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic and chicken (if raw) and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth, oregano, thyme and poultry seasoning and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. If you are using leftover, cooked chicken, add now. Add noodles and cook 10 minutes or until they are tender.

Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with NC Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups. Contact Mansure by emailing her at margie_mansure@ncsu.edu or calling (828) 264-3061.

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