Winter is always the right time for a hot bowl of soup

January was National Soup Month, but alas I missed the perfect opportunity to feature a column in celebration of the event. I did however make soup once a week throughout the month and am dying to share some of my favorites. Better late than never, as long as there is snow in the flower beds and a fire in the woodstove, it is always the right time for a hot bowl of soup, no matter the month.

Making soup is fun. Sure, there is lots of chopping, but if that’s not your thing just pick up already chopped veggies in the frozen or fresh food section. The canned food aisle is also a soup-makers dream. From vegetables to beans to broth it’s easy to find everything needed for a quick, easy and delicious pot of soup.

Sausage-Corn Chowder

1/2-pound ground pork sausage

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 T. olive oil

3 1/2 cups milk

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. onion salt

3 (11-ounce) cans yellow corn with red and green bell peppers

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions: In soup pot, over medium-high heat, brown the sausage, onion and bell pepper in oil. Drain off fat. Lower heat to medium and sprinkle flour and onion salt over the mixture, stirring to coat. Slowly add milk, stirring constantly till soup is thickened.

Stir in the corn and simmer till heated through. Add cheese, stirring till melted. Serve with crusty bread or cornbread. Makes 8 cups.

Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

1-pound ground beef

1 cup chopped onion

2 cups chopped green bell pepper

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

4 cups beef broth

1 (15-ounce) can diced Italian-style tomatoes with juice

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 T. packed brown sugar

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

1 to 2 cups cooked white rice

Directions: In Dutch oven brown beef with onion, garlic and peppers. Drain. Add remaining ingredients, except rice, and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or till vegetables are tender. Stir in rice and heat through. Taste for seasoning. Serve with crusty bread and butter. Serves 8.

French Onion Soup

4 cups thinly sliced onions

3 T. butter

5 cups beef broth

Splash of dry white wine or sherry, optional

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Dash pepper

Shredded or sliced Swiss cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Toasted French bread slices

Directions: In 5-quart Dutch oven, sautÈ onions in butter over low heat 15 minutes or till onions are golden brown and tender. Stir in beef broth, wine (if using), Worcestershire sauce and black pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 20 to 25 minutes.

Place a slice of toasted bread in the bottom of 6 oven-proof bowls. Cover bread with Swiss cheese. Ladle in soup. Sprinkle tops with Parmesan cheese.

Place bowls on a cookie sheet and broil 3 to 5 inches from heat till cheese is browned and bubbly. Watch carefully. Makes 6 (1-cup) servings.