Winter (& Soup) is Coming...

It’s officially that hygge-embracing, wool sweater wearing, hot cocoa drinking, try not to shout at your family, kind of season! To crank up the cozy we hosted a Soup Swap for some very talented friends and they really stepped up to the plate (bowl?) Our freezers are now full of a variety of delicious soups to get us through the Night’s Watch (of garbage on Netflix).

What’s a Soup Swap, you ask? It’s a party where you swap soup, duh. We asked each guest to bring a homemade soup and empty mason jars, and we supplied the bread and booze. After souptroductions (that’s when the soup is introduced, duh again) and tastings, we let our guests loose to fill jars with their favorites. Making one soup is nice, but turning your freezer into a personal Souplantation is better.

Savannah’s Pasta-Less Pesto Minestrone a la InstantPot

The addition of pesto was a game changer, giving the perfect herby kick to a classic.

  • 4-5 carrots peeled and diced

  • 1 medium onion diced

  • 4-5 celery stalks diced

  • 4 cloves of garlic minced

  • 1 zucchini diced

  • 1 24 oz jar of tomato sauce ( I prefer San Marzano Marinara Sauce)

  • 1 can white beans drained and rinsed

  • 4 bay leaves

  • 2 tsp smoked paprika

  • 1/4 cup pesto

  • Handful dried porcini mushrooms broken up

  • 3 cups of water

  • Olive oil

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Set InstantPot to Sauté. Add olive oil. When hot, add onion, carrot, and celery. Salt and cook till fragrant and slightly softened (5-7 minutes).

  2. Set InstantPot pot to Cancel. Add all other ingredients and select Soup setting for 30 minutes.

  3. When finished, open the valve and let steam release naturally.

  4. Salt to taste. Serve with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan and a crusty bread.

Adrienne’s Split Pea Soup

This chef wisely held onto some precious Honey Baked Ham bones to use as the base of this soup. I can only describe this soup as a hug-in-a-bowl.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 2 medium leeks, white and pale-green parts only, chopped

  • 2 celery stalks, chopped

  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, cut into small pieces

  • 1 cup chopped leftover ham

  • 1 ham bone

  • 6 sprigs thyme

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 2 cups green split peas

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • Sour cream and croutons (for serving, optional)

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, leeks, celery, and garlic; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, 10–12 minutes. Add potatoes and ham.

  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are just softened, 8–10 minutes. Add ham bone, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and split peas and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, until peas are very soft and falling apart, 1½–2 hours.

  3. Remove ham bone (along with any meat that is still attached), thyme sprigs, and bay leaves from soup. Add Worcestershire sauce; season with salt and pepper.

  4. Serve soup with sour cream and croutons, if desired.

Nicole’s Classic Tomato Soup with Cheese Toasties

It never rains in Los Angeles, but this soup-er star had us dreaming of cozying up with a good read while it’s soggy out. The cheese toasties took this one over the top for us. Cheese Toasties 2020!

  • 6 garlic cloves

  • 2 large onions

  • 2 medium carrots

  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika

  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese

  • 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • ¼ cup sour cream or whole-milk Greek yogurt, plus more for serving

  • 4 thick-cut slices country bread

  1. Cut 1 garlic clove in half and set aside. Smash remaining 5 garlic cloves and peel. Peel 2 onions and coarsely chop. Peel 2 carrots and coarsely chop. Open and drain 28-oz. can tomatoes into a colander set over a large bowl to catch juices.

  2. Heat 3 Tbsp. oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium. Add garlic, onion, and carrots; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent and just starting to brown around the edges, 8–10 minutes.

  3. Add 1 tsp. paprika and stir to coat vegetables. Cook, stirring, until fragrant. Add whole tomatoes and cook, stirring often, until tomatoes start to burst and break down, 10–15 minutes. Meanwhile, grate 4 oz. cheddar cheese on the large holes of a box grater.

  4. Add 15-oz. can crushed tomatoes, reserved tomato juices, 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, and 1 cup water to pot and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cook 8–10 minutes, just to help flavors meld.Remove from heat and purée soup with an immersion blender until smooth.

  5. Stir about ¼ cup hot soup into ¼ cup sour cream in a small bowl, then stir back into soup (for a creamier soup, feel free to add more). Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Don’t let soup come back to a boil at this point or sour cream may split.

  6. Place a rack in top position of oven; heat broiler. Place 4 slices bread on foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and drizzle both sides with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil. Broil bread until one side is golden and toasted, then remove from oven and turn slices. Broil until second side is golden. Remove from oven and rub cut sides of remaining garlic cloves over top of toasted bread.

  7. Arrange grated cheese over bread, dividing evenly. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbling.

  8. Ladle soup into bowl and top with a dollop of sour cream. Cut bread into soldiers and serve with soup.

Vanessa’s Tortellini Chicken Noodle Soup

Who knew chicken noodle soup could be improved upon? Vanessa, that's who! Her addition of tortellini gave this soup some real substance. That cold going around has no chance against this soupy goodness.

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breast

  • 5 medium carrots peeled and diced

  • 5 stalks celery diced

  • 1 medium onion diced

  • 3 cloves garlic minced

  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth

  • 1 cup water

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or more to taste)

  • 2 cups cheese tortellini

  • chopped fresh parsley (for serving if desired)

  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Add all ingredients to a slow cooker, except for the tortellini.

  2. Cook on low for 6 hours.

  3. Remove the cooked chicken from the slow cooker and shred or cube. Add back to the slow cooker.

  4. Add in the tortellini and cook for 15 minutes, or until they are cooked all the way through.

  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Discard bay leaves and serve immediately with chopped parsley, if desired.

Carley’s Cozy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

I was specifically ordered not to make more than one soup by Guidance Counselor Jenn...but I am nothing if not a rebel who refuses to play by ANYONE’S RULES! She’s just lucky I didn’t make three. You’re welcome, Jenn!

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 small onion, chopped small

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup half-and-half (I used ½ half-and-half, ½ whole milk)

  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth (here’s my favorite chicken stock)

  • 1 bay leaf

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1 1/4 pounds broccoli or 4 cups broccoli florets and stems, chopped small

  • 1 large carrot (about 6 ounces) or 2 slim ones, chopped tiny (1 cup)

  • 8 ounces (about 2 1/2 cups) coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese

  1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.

  2. Stir in the flour and cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes, then gradually whisk in the half-and-half until smooth. Add the chicken broth, bay leaf, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.

  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

  4. Add the broccoli and carrot to the broth mixture and simmer until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and adjust seasoning if needed. Puree the soup to your desired texture with an immersion blender or in an upright one.

  5. Back on the stove, add cheese and whisk until melted, about 1 minute.

Carley's Orzo-Greens-Meatball Bonanza in a Bowl

(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)


  • 1 large egg

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • 1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs

  • 12 ounces ground turkey

  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


  • 8 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth

  • 1 cup chopped peeled carrots

  • 3/4 cup (about 4.75 ounces or 135 grams) orzo (rice-shaped pasta)

  • 4 cups coarsely chopped escarole (about 1/2 medium head), swiss chard, kale or baby spinach (about 3 ounces of leaves) -- I used spinach

  1. Whisk egg and 2 tablespoons water in medium bowl to blend. Mix in breadcrumbs; let stand one minute. Add turkey, parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper; gently stir to blend.

  2. Using wet hands, shape turkey mixture into 1 1/4-inch-diameter meatballs. Place on baking sheet; chill while you prepare the next steps, or 30 minutes, if you have the time.

  3. Bring chicken broth to a boil in large (4 to 5-quart) pot. Add carrots and orzo; reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered 8 minutes. Add turkey meatballs and simmer 10 minutes.

  4. Stir in chopped greens and simmer until turkey meatballs, orzo, and escarole are tender, about 5 minutes longer. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.

Jenn's Vegan Butternut Squash Dreamy Creamy Soup

(adapted from Gimme Some Oven)

This gluten-free, vegan soup tasted like pumpkin pie and a mild curry had a love child...we went back for seconds and thirds.

  • 2 cups vegetable stock

  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

  • 1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and roughly chopped

  • 1 medium (about 3–4 lbs) butternut squash (or other similar squash like acorn or kabocha), peeled, seeded and diced

  • 1 white onion, peeled and roughly chopped

  • 1 sprig fresh sage

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne

  • pinch of ground cinnamon and nutmeg

  • 1/2 cup canned (unsweetened) coconut milk

  • optional garnishes: extra coconut milk or smoked paprika


1. Add vegetable stock, garlic*, carrot, apple, butternut squash, sage, onion*, salt, pepper, cayenne, cinnamon and nutmeg a large stockpot. Toss to combine.

2. Cook on medium-high until the mixture reaches a simmer. Then cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are all tender and mash easily with a fork.

3. Remove and discard the sage. Stir in the coconut milk.

4. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. (Or you can transfer the soup in two batches into a traditional blender and puree until smooth, being extremely careful not to fill the blender too full with a hot liquid.) Taste, and season with additional salt, pepper and cayenne as needed.

5. Serve warm, topped with your desired garnishes.

InstantPot Instructions:

  1. Add vegetable stock, garlic, carrot, apple, butternut squash, sage, onion, salt, pepper, cayenne, cinnamon and nutmeg to an Instant Pot pressure cooker. Toss to combine. Close lid securely and set vent to “Sealing”.

  2. Press “Manual”, then press “Pressure” until the light on “High Pressure” lights up, then adjust the +/- buttons until time reads 8 minutes. Cook. Then very carefully, turn the vent to “Venting” for quick release, and wait until all of the steam has released and the valve has dropped. Remove the lid.

  3. Remove and discard the sage. Stir in the coconut milk.

  4. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. (Or you can transfer the soup in two batches into a traditional blender, and puree until smooth, being very careful when working with the hot liquid.) Taste, and season with additional salt, pepper and cayenne if needed.

  5. Serve warm, with optional garnishes if desired.


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