Six warm dishes to beat winter’s chill

by Terry B on February 5, 2014

As winter rages on, this mix of stews, soups and hearty oven-made dishes from the Blue Kitchen archives will keep you warm.


After years of slacking off, winter is officially back. Across the country, places that normally don’t see snow are getting it. And places that do normally get it are really getting it. Here in Chicago, even before the latest snowstorm that started last night, we’d had more than four feet of snow already this season. Usually, we get about three feet for the entire season. And the cold can be best summarized this way. Yesterday morning as I was heading out, I saw that the temperature was 12ºF and thought, “Oh, not bad!”

With winter playing hardball, it’s time to fight back in the kitchen. Fire up the oven for a long braise or a roast. Cook up a hearty stew or soup on the stovetop, the kind of meals my grandmother called “stick-to-your-ribs” food. Here are six dishes that fit the bill nicely.

1. Lancashire Hotpot

The name alone says this dish will warm you right up. Lancashire Hotpot, pictured above, is a traditional dish from England’s northwest coast, a place where they know a thing or two about remedies for bone-chilling weather. It’s made with lamb, onions and carrots topped with sliced potatoes and baked until fork tender. You’ll find the recipe here.

2. Senate Bean Soup

Blue Kitchen Senate Bean Soup

This classic  bean soup has been served daily in the Senate Dining Room since about 1903. For my version I stay close to tradition, starting with beans, ham hocks, butter, an onion, salt, pepper and water, then adding only some aromatics and bay leaves. You’ll find the steadfastly old school recipe here.

3. Vietnamese Beef Stew


Marion’s Vietnamese Beef Stew is the one meat dish our vegetarian daughter truly misses. And it’s a family winter favorite. Flavors from all over Asia spice up the aromatic, meaty stew that draws its inspiration from when Vietnam was called French Indochina. The recipe is right here.

4. Potage Crécy


Sure, the French can wow us like no one else with elaborate, elegant, ethereal dishes. But for me, where they truly shine is in sublimely simple dishes like this carrot soup. A handful of basic ingredients—carrots, potatoes, leeks, stock, fresh thyme and cream—becomes a colorful, subtle soup.

5. Italian Chicken Stew

Italian Chicken Stew Hedgebrook

In this hearty, rustic Italian stew, chicken and potatoes get a big, bright flavor boost from artichoke hearts, olives and capers. The recipe is adapted from the Hedgebrook Cookbook: Celebrating Radical Hospitality.

6. Lamb Stew with Root Vegetables


Chunks of lamb, dark beer (a stout will do nicely) and root vegetables—red potatoes, turnips and carrots—team up for a flavorful, satisfying lamb stew. Here’s the recipe.

Okay, your turn. What are your go-to dishes when the weather turns cold? Leave a comment and tell us.



{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

[email protected] Riffs February 5, 2014 at 9:56 am

Loads of good dishes! I’ve never made Potage Crécy — I need to give that a try. It’s been cold here, too, as you know so we’ve been comforting ourselves with loads of chili and soups. This weekend I’m making a gumbo, which is always a great cold weather dish. Although I prefer cold weather to hot, it’s getting ridiculous! But it certainly helps us rationalize eating loads of heavy, rich foods. :-)

[email protected] February 5, 2014 at 8:14 pm

Doug is making his five start chili. I’ll take the lamb stew.

Mimi February 5, 2014 at 8:27 pm

I’ll take potage Crecy! But Lancashire Hotpot looks wonderful.

Thanks, TerryB!

Terry B February 5, 2014 at 11:04 pm

John, before making Potage Crécy, I’d never thought of carrots in a starring role—they were always ensemble players. But in this soup, they really are amazing—and surprising. And now you’ve got me wanting some gumbo!

Angela, chili is another winter favorite here.

Thanks, Mimi! Both are delicious, if I say so myself.

Ovedia February 6, 2014 at 12:32 am

I am not much of a cook..but when I make Hedgebrook’s Italian Chicken Stew..all my friends (including my Italian ones) show up for dinner. Delicious!!! It has made me very popular. :-)

Barry Larking February 8, 2014 at 8:42 am

These are marvellous!

I frequently make variations on the ‘hot pot’ idea (brought up it during Rationing post 45). Nowadays I fry onion and add garlic. I’ve never tried the beer in No. 6. Will now.

rosita vargas February 10, 2014 at 7:31 pm

Platos lindos y contundentes me gustan todos,saludos hugs,hugs.

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