Hate the January cold? Try something chili

What better way to warm up on a chilly crisp day than a steaming bowl of soup? Families have their favorites, from chicken and noodles to tomato, plus split pea, vegetable, corn and clam chowder, chili and so many more.

Here are some variations you’ll find delicious and easy to prepare.

One of my favorites is this rich and hearty Cheesy Potato Soup. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup chopped onion to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Sprinkle with 2

½ tablespoons all-purpose flour and cook 1 minute, stirring onion mixture constantly. chili

Add 3 cups chopped red potato (about 1 pound), 1

¼ cups 1 percent or low-fat milk (your choice), ¾ cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth and ½ cup water to pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Add ½ cup reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese and 1/8 ground red or black pepper. Cook 2 minutes or until cheese melts, stirring frequently to prevent curdling. Garnish each bowl a dash of chopped green onion.

Or how about this take on Potato Soup? Don’t let the sparse ingredient list fool you. Imagine entering your house on a cold day and smelling this soup. It’s the most comforting, delicious aroma imaginable. It’s also non-fat if you use skim milk … but, to be honest, I like half-and-half, myself!

Peel and cube one potato for each person and/or bowl, put in a saucepan along with

¼ cup chopped celery and ¼ cup chopped onions, again per person and/or bowl. Add almost enough water to cover the vegetables and bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until all of the veggies are very tender.

Using a potato masher, coarsely crush the potatoes, but don’t actually mash them; you want chunks left. Add

¼ to 1/2 cup milk or ¼ to 1/2 cups half-and-half – enough to thin to desired thickness and then finish by adding salt and pepper to taste.

As a youngster growing up in Indiana my mother would soak her dry beans (whether great northern, navy or split peas) overnight in warm water and finish the soup the next day. She always said soaking the beans brought out the nutrients.

This basic Ham and Bean Soup is very easy and quick to make because you use a can of great northern beans.

This is a great soup to use leftover ham on the bone. Cut ham into bite-size pieces, reserving the bone. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-heat and fry ham pieces in hot butter until lightly browned, about 4 minutes.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large saucepan, cook and stir in 1 onion and 2 carrots (diced), and 1 clove garlic (minced) in the hot butter until softened and onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

Pour one 16-ounce can great northern beans, undrained, into vegetables, then add ham and reserved ham bone. Next, pour in 2 cups water (or as much as needed to make soup the desired thickness). Stir in 2 bay leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove ham bone and bay leaves before serving.

What better to serve on a cold day than chil? Almost every cook has his or her own favorite recipe. Some like it hot, and some like it even hotter.

A good Basic Chili recipe is to take 1 pound ground beef in a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the beef, 1 chopped onion and sauté until meat is browned and onion is tender. Add 1 14.5 ounce-can stewed tomatoes, 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce, 1 15-ounce can kidney beans and 1

½ cup water. Stir and let simmer. Season with 1 pinch chili powder, 1 pinch garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with a bit of shredded cheese on top.

Connie Schwan of Martinsburg share her Sweet Chili recipe with you. This is written out as you would see in old cookbooks; you prepare in stages. This recipe calls for a pound of ground beef or ground turkey (sweet or spicy is good, too), cooked and drained, and 3 to 6 strips bacon, cooked and drained. You’ll also need 1 can each of kidney beans, black beans and some type of white beans (northern). Drain the beans and rinse to reduce salt content. Cans should be about 14 ounces each or larger. You can use baked beans-in-tomato sauce in place of any of the other beans ,but of course do not drain.

The recipe also uses a medium to large onion, chopped; 1 to 2 small cloves of garlic, chopped; a can of tomato sauce (14 ounces or more); and 1 cup ketchup.

For spices, you’ll need

½ teaspoon to 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1½ to 2 tablespoons vinegar; 1/3 to ½ cup brown sugar; and salt and pepper to taste.

To prepare, start by cooking onion and garlic in bacon grease (or a tablespoon of olive oil) and 1 tablespoon butter. When onions are a little soft, add ketchup, tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, chili powder, salt and pepper. Stir until well blended.

Add beans and bacon to a crockpot. Start on high for 30 minutes, then lower for several hours. Do not open for at least 2

½ hours.

With so many varieties of soups to prepare and share, please let me know one of your family favorites for a future column.

– What food columnist isn’t hungry for feedback? Write Patt Welsh with your thoughts on this column or with ideas for future pieces. Reach her at

pwelsh@shepherd.edu or send a letter in care of the Spirit of Jefferson newsroom, 114 N. Charles St., Charles Town 25414.

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