As the weather gets colder, many of us turn to food not just as sustenance, but as a way to keep ourselves nice and toasty while sharing a meal with friends and family. From slow cooker meals to warm and hearty stews, one-pot comfort food is in season — here are some ideas to help you to stay warm over the winter:
Soup is a surefire way to warm your belly and is also a great way to get some vegetables in your system when it feels too cold to dig into a salad. The best part is that it’s relatively easy to make a big pot of homemade soup, whether you prefer a brothy soup packed with bits of meat and vegetables or a pureed soup made with carrots and ginger or curry and butternut squash. Soup is also a great way to use up leftover roast meats — simply throw shredded chicken or chunks of beef in with your other ingredients to create an economical meal in a bowl.
Baked pastas generally take a little bit longer than pasta dishes where you simply ladle sauce over boiled noodles, but the extra effort is worth it. Baked lasagnas, ravioli dishes, and ziti casseroles (basically a “lazy” lasagna that uses penne-like noodles rather than flat lasagna dishes) offer a cheesy pick-me-up on a winter day. Of course, if you’d rather not do tomato sauce, adults and kids alike will also reach for a bubbling baked macaroni and cheese any time of the year.
A deliciously saucy beef stew is the ultimate winter comfort food for many of us, partially because a big part of the joy of stew is catching the smell of it as it bubbles away on the stove for the better part of the day. Stews take a while to prepare, but it’s time well spent, and because the meat and vegetables are so nicely broken down by the stewing process, any leftovers freeze beautifully for a future cold-day meal.
Another one-pot meal that is synonymous with comfort, a good chili should warm you both with its temperature and its spiciness. Chili is also fairly versatile — many of us associate it with beef, but you can also whip up a great turkey or chicken chili or, for a meatless meal, stick to beans for your main protein.
For a different flavour profile altogether, try making a homemade curry, spiced to your own heat preference and full of healthy ingredients like chickpeas, squash, or pieces roasted chicken. Like the flavours in chili, a classic curry with warm you up with its spices, though when you go the homemade route you can go mild if you prefer a less spicy meal.
Slow Cooker Meals
Any of the above meals can be made in a slow cooker (yes, even the pastas), provided you have a good slow cooker-appropriate recipe to work from. While a slow cooker won’t warm your kitchen in the same way your oven will, there’s something incredibly satisfying about being out and about on a cold day and then coming home to a warm wholesome meal sitting right on your counter.