Hearty, simple soups for warming up in the new year

Aerial shot of a bowl of veggie soup
Settle in with a bowl of soup for cold nights that stick around longer than usual.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)

Rarely has it felt more like a proper winter in L.A. than the past few weeks. The endless rain that marked the turn of the new year combined with relatively more frigid temperatures than I’m accustomed to has fully unlocked my “winter mode” and has me craving nothing but soup. I want something hearty and satisfying — and preferably somewhat nutritious — that will warm me up enough to finally get out from underneath this blanket I’ve been wearing like a muumuu since before Christmas.

Chef Thea Baumann’s pantry-friendly chickpea and escarole soup is an excellent candidate to start out with for a week of soups because you can basically use any beans and any greens you have on hand to achieve a brothy, warming stew. A couple slices of bread make for super-crunchy and buttery croutons to go on top.

Use up the rest of whatever bread you have to make author Meredith Erickson’s Alpine bread soup, which also uses hearty greens for nutrition but adds in pancetta and eggs for silky richness. If you have any greens left over after that, try chef Jenny Dorsey’s beans-and-greens number that floats tender, rosemary-infused pork meatballs in the broth.

Once you’ve had your fill of bread, beans and greens, turn to chef Sally Schmitt’s tomatillo tortilla soup, tangy and bright with tomatillos and orange juice. And for the easiest pho ever, try author Andrea Nguyen’s quick chicken pho, which turns a slew of pantry staples and boneless skinless chicken breast into an exciting, crave-able pho that takes a lot less time than the beef version.


All these soups are easy to execute, use ingredients you most likely already have in your kitchen and will leave you with lots of leftovers to reheat throughout the week, especially when you’re in need of a little reheating too.

Chickpea And Escarole Soup With Crispy Bread Crumbs

Fresh, crunchy bread crumbs add contrast to this light soup that eats like a hearty meal. Use another type of canned bean if that’s all you have and also feel free to switch the escarole for your favorite green, like Swiss chard or kale.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 50 minutes.

A bowl of veggie soup with some breadcrumbs next to it
(Jennifer Chong/For The Times)

Bread Soup With Chicory And Egg

Puccia, a sandwich bread made from a simple pizza dough, forms the base of this soup, but you can substitute it with store-bought ciabatta or panini bread and make the croutons from a country-style loaf. If wild chicory proves hard to find, substitute dandelion leaves, escarole or radicchio for the welcome hint of bitterness.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes.

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Mustard Greens And Beans Soup With Herby Pork Meatballs

Dorsey makes bone broth and beans earlier in the week in this simple, comforting soup, but you can use store-bought broth and beans and it will taste just as great. If you want to add flavor to your rice, do like Dorsey and add some fried garlic before it cooks so the alliums perfume the rice.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 30 minutes.

A bowl of veggie soup with light meatballs
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)

Tomatillo Tortilla Soup

By swapping in tomatillos for the more common tomatoes and pairing them with citrus, Schmitt brings bright tangy notes to this simple soup. Its simplicity highlights the freshness of the produce and the warming comfort of tortillas that thicken and enrich the broth.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 45 minutes.

A soup with many veggies in it
(Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times)

Quick Chicken Pho (Pho Gà Nhanh)

Herb-wise, stick with cilantro for the soup’s assembly and mint for the garnish plate, along with chile slices, bean sprouts and lime. Mint is a traditional Hanoi pho herb that’s overlooked in America. It adds bright, zippy notes to pho and pairs exceptionally well with chicken.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 50 minutes.

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