Winter’s colder weather and shorter daylight hours can make us crave comfort foods. It could be a biological response triggered to help the body “survive” tougher environmental conditions. Or it could be that we’re just plain cold and crave a cup of soup to warm up. Either way, local food blogger Janel Hutton of nelliebellie.com has some wonderful winter recipes to help soothe those cravings and warm your winter-weary soul. She even includes some favorite locally sourced ingredients you probably even have on hand (or should).
Steak, Mushroom & Ale Soup
This is a beautifully earthy soup full of steak, mushrooms, and our favorite brown ale, Fireside Flannel from Lift Bridge. Full of flavor, this soup is perfect with a bottle of wine and a table of friends! We grabbed the steak for this recipe from our friends at Kowalski’s, the fresh thyme and milk is from Rivertown Co-op and the beer is from local brewery Lift Bridge Brewery.
- 2 lbs. steak (ribeye, chuck eye, or similar steak), cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tsp. pepper
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, chopped
- 1 lbs. mushrooms, sliced (bella mushrooms work well for this)
- 1 can of Lift Bridge Fireside Flannel
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. each of basil, oregano and rosemary
- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
- 32 oz. beef broth
- ¼ cup milk (almond and coconut work fine as dairy-free options)
- ¼ cup fresh parsley
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar (optional)
Toss the cubes of steak with the flour and salt & pepper.
In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, melt the butter and olive oil on medium-high heat.
Add the coated cubes of steak to the hot pan to sear the steak. Remove after seared and set aside. Do not cook all the way through.
In the same pot, add a bit more oil if needed to properly coat.
Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes gathering all of the leftover steak bits into it.
Add the mushrooms and sauté for another 3 minutes or until the mushrooms are sweating.
Add the garlic and seasonings, stir and then add the beer.
Let the beer come to a boil and reduce (about 5 minutes).
Add the beef stock, bring to a boil, simmer until it reduces and thickens (about 20 minutes).
Right here you need to give it a taste and determine if you want to add a bit of sugar, or more salt & pepper. Depending on the salt content of your broth and other ingredients you may need to add additional salt.
Remove from the heat, add back the steak (it will cook through as it sits in the hot broth—if you like your meat well done let the meat sit for a few minutes before serving), and the fresh parsley. Top with more fresh parsley, if desired.
Red Wine Minestrone
Minestrone soup is an easy and hearty kitchen soup that makes great use of leftover bits of veggies. Using red wine and fresh herbs in this simple recipe elevates it into a soup that your whole family will cheer for. You’ll be wishing for cold evenings! We use St. Croix Valley Vineyards Frontenac wine because of its beautiful red color and bold flavor. Also, because it is one of our favorites to have on hand!
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil or butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 cup sliced carrot
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups red wine
- 2 cans diced tomatoes
- 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup frozen green beans
- 2 cups baby spinach, rinsed
- 1 cup chopped zucchini
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked
- Parmesan cheese for topping
In a large soup pot heat the olive oil on medium-high heat.
Add the onion, celery and carrots. Sauté until the onion and celery are soft.
Add garlic and sauté until fragrant (about 1 minute).
Add a bit of red wine to deglaze the pan.
Add the rest of the wine, chicken broth, diced tomatoes, beans, green beans, spinach, zucchini and herbs.
Simmer on low heat for at least 45 minutes and up to two hours.
Taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your preference.
Serve by ladling soup over about 1/4 cup of the elbow macaroni.
Top with fresh Parmesan cheese and serve with bread.
Note: You may wish to add another cup or two of chicken broth to the soup if you like yours with more broth than veggies.
Corn and Potato Chowder with Beer
This corn chowder is full of delicious creamy potatoes and sweet corn.
Using Maple Island Maple Bock beer elevates the broth and is so much fun. Feel free to use ham, bacon or sausage to change it up and make it your family’s new favorite.
- 1/2 cup ham chopped small
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 12 oz. chicken broth
- 1 cup beer
- 4 medium red potatoes chopped (see note about speeding up the time to cook)
- 2 cups frozen corn
- 1/2 cup cream or whole milk
- 1.5 Tbsp. cornstarch
- Salt, as needed
Heat a soup pot on medium heat with one tablespoon of butter. Add the ham.
Sauté for 2 minutes or until golden. Add the onion, celery and spices.
Cook until the onion and celery are soft, add the garlic.
Stir in 1/2 of the beer, scraping the bottom of the pan.
Add the broth and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to medium.
Add the potatoes and corn. (Note: If you don’t microwave the potatoes—see the recipe note below—first you will need to simmer this for about 20 minutes to cook the potatoes.)
Reduce the heat to low. In a separate bowl, mix the milk and cornstarch together well with a fork.
Slowly add the milk mixture to the soup and whisk. Wait a bit after each addition to allow for thickening.
Serve with green onions, sour cream and cheese.
Note: Microwaving the potatoes while you sauté the onion and celery keeps this recipe fast and easy! Or, cut potatoes into small pieces and roast them in the oven. Either way, your soup will be done in minutes.