Warming Winter Soups

Simple and satisfying recipes for the winter months

A light green salad might cut it in the summer, but during the cold, dark days of winter, you likely crave something a little … heartier. Aside from a piping hot cup of cocoa, nothing takes the chill off quite like a steaming bowl of soup.

The ultimate comfort food, many soup recipes are also hearty, healthy and cheap and easy to make. We’ve rounded up four winter soup recipes to help warm you — body and soul. Bonus: They freeze well, so go ahead and make a big batch to tide you over till spring!


Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

This pureed soup (pictured above) from the Gaiam Cafe kitchen is a colorful way to sneak in an extra serving of veggies. Chef Ruben suggests roasting the squash and toasting the pumpkin seeds a day ahead of time to make day-of prep easier.

  • 2-3 lb. butternut squash, split, seeded and chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced finely
  • 1 nub of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 3 ribs of celery, diced finely
  • Pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove
  • 1 qt. vegetable stock
  • 1 cup milk or cream


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the butternut squash with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and thyme and place on a sheet tray, flat side down. Roast squash until tender and skin starts to blister, 30-35 min. Cool and skin the squash. If using raw pumpkin seeds, place in an ovenproof dish and toast for 5-7 minutes at 375 degrees.

In a medium-size pot, sauté the onion, ginger and celery on medium heat. Once fragrant, add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove and cook for 1 minute. Now add butternut squash and enough broth to cover completely. Simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove soup from the stove and set aside for 5-7 minutes. Using a blender, puree the soup in batches, adding extra broth if necessary. Pour pureed soup back into the same pot and add the milk or cream. Slowly reheat the soup until hot. Be careful not to boil it for too long, as the soup may begin to separate. Garnish with the toasted pumpkin seeds.

Judith’s Hamburger Soup

Judith's Hamburger Soup“This recipe is so easy to make — and no crazy ingredients!” says Gaiam Life reader Judith Begley Trimarchi of her sinfully simple hamburger soup. Perfect for any tough-to-please kids in your life. 
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 28-oz. can stewed whole tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • Dash of chili powder (optional)
Preheat a soup pot on the stove on medium heat for a minute or two (to prevent the beef from sticking to the pan). Add the ground beef and brown on medium heat while breaking into medium-sized chunks. Add the chopped garlic and onion. Stir until the onion is lightly cooked — almost transparent. Add the stewed whole tomatoes (including juice), cutting the whole tomatoes into quarters with a pair of kitchen shears as you toss them into the pot. Add approximately 4-6 cups of water (depending on how thick you want the soup to be). Add the salt and chili powder. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Serve immediately with crackers or cornbread.

Michelle's Minestrone

Michelle's MinestroneGaiam staffer Michelle Lee adapted this recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. She added extra vegetables (“My kiddos are both veggie fanatics,” she explains), took out the wine, and added kielbasa sausage and kidney beans for an extra protein boost. “It’s a bit time-consuming in terms of prep, but well worth the effort,” Lee says. “It makes a big, beautiful pot of soup and generally pleases the masses.”
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 medium cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 4 ribs of celery, minced
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ lb. – 1 lb. chopped kielbasa, cooked (optional)
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • ½ lb. pasta (such as whole wheat rotini)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan to taste
Heat the olive oil in a kettle or Dutch oven. Add the onion, garlic and salt. Sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, then add the celery, carrot, oregano, basil and pepper. Cover and cook over very low heat about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the zucchini, water, crushed tomatoes (with water) and cooked kielbasa (if using). Cover and simmer about 15 minutes. Add the chickpeas and kidney beans and simmer another 5 minutes. Bring the soup to a gentle boil. (Add more water if needed so that there is enough liquid to boil pasta). Add the diced tomatoes and pasta. Stir and cook until the pasta is tender (use time estimates on pasta packaging). Top with freshly grated Parmesan and serve.

Kristen's Low-Sodium Chili

Kristen's Low-Sodium ChiliYoga instructor and Gaiam Life reader Kristen Grace makes a batch of this chili every week to have on hand for lunches at work or busy weeknight dinners. "I struggle with high blood pressure, so this soup is really good," says Grace. "The trick is to use only a partial chili packet, for example, instead of the whole thing. That way you get the flavor but not all the sodium." Miss the beans? Thrown in a can of low-sodium beans when you add the other veggies!
  • 3 15-oz. cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 package frozen corn or 1 15-oz. can low-sodium corn, drained
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • ½ red pepper, chopped
  • Kosher salt (optional) and pepper to taste
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ lb. - 1 lb. lean ground turkey, lean ground beef or vegetarian meat substitute (optional)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ packet chili seasoning
  • ½ cup salsa
  • A pinch of fat-free shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese (optional)
In a large soup pot, combine the crushed tomatoes, corn, green and red peppers, and salt and ground black pepper. Simmer over medium heat. Meanwhile, bring the olive oil to a simmer in frying pan on medium-high heat. Squeeze the clove of garlic through a garlic press into the pan and sauté for 1 minute. Add meat (if using) and sauté until meat is cooked through. Add the chopped onion, water, chili seasoning and salsa. Stir until well blended and the meat and onions are coated. Simmer 5-10 minutes. Transfer the meat/onion mixture from the frying pan into the soup pot. Mix all ingredients together and allow to simmer, covered, for at least 30 minutes. Top with shredded cheese, if desired. Serve with low-sodium crackers or cornbread.


Related Articles:

How to Survive the Winter Produce Season

Feeling SAD? Top 4 Remedies for Winter Blues

Yoga for All Seasons: Winter

Outsmarting Winter Viruses


Winter Wellness Solutions:

HappyLight Liberty Energy Lamp Kit

Ultrasonic Cool & Warm Mist Humidifier

Deep Penetrating Red Light Therapy Device 

Organic Ice & Snow Flannel Bedding


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