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10 ways to soup up your winter meals

A pot of Chickpea, Escarole and Tomato Soup with Breadcrumbs
(Jennifer Chong / For The Times; Prop Styling by Kate Parisan)

10 substantial soup recipes to take you through the winter

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With nighttime temperatures dipping into the 30s and 40s, winter has definitely arrived in Southern California. A nice hot bowl of soup is a great way to cozy up to the table and ward off the chill.

Thea Bauman’s Chickpea and Escarole Soup with Crispy Bread Crumbs is easy, fast, flavorful and satisfying. The crunch factor from the homemade breadcrumbs is a definite plus. Also on the easy, flavorful side is Genevieve Ko’s Creamy Tomato Soup. Forty minutes of the 60-minute preparation don’t really require much attention while the soup simmers, giving you time to whip up a grilled cheese sandwich and/or a green salad to enjoy with it. Mayi Brady’s Roasted Tomato Soup is just as hands off and gets some extra rich flavor from roasting the tomatoes.

Black Bean Tortilla Soup is a nice twist on the classic, chicken broth and roasted tomato base of the tortilla soups of Mexico City, or the tomato base thickened with ground tortillas typical of California tortilla soups. Diana Kennedy further pushes the tortilla soup envelope with her vibrant Sopa de Bolitas de Tortilla (Tortilla Ball Soup) — the tortilla balls are dumplings that you make from tortillas and cotija cheese and lightly fry before simmering in the broth.

Also very aromatic is Jet Tila’s Tom Kha Gai (Coconut Chicken Soup), rich with the flavors of Thailand: makrut lime, galangal, fish sauce, lemon grass and heat (as much or as little as you like) from Thai chilis. Deborah Madison’s hearty, vegetarian Red Lentil Soup with Berbere fills the senses with the Ethiopian spice blend.

On the creamier side, Russ Parsons’ Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger uses apple cider vinegar to achieve what he calls “profound squash flavor.” Also flavored with ginger, but in a more brothy way, is Grub’s Spinach-Mushroom-Ginger Soup. Parsnip adds a dimension of sweetness to the stock while roasted mushrooms and cabernet sauvignon impart rich flavor to the soup.

A bit more understated but no less complex, Sonoko Sakai’s Miso Soup with Tofu and Enoki Mushrooms is made with your choice of koji or mugi miso. Some misos are saltier than others, Sakai notes, and advises that when making miso soup, always taste and make adjustments.

Creamy or brothy, pureed or chunky, spicy or not, these soups can be a first course, an accompaniment to a salad or bowl of pasta or the full meal. Yes, you have options.

Red lentil soup with berbere

This pot of lentil soup uses red lentils, turmeric and ghee plus a healthy dose of homemade berbere, the addictive Ethiopian spice blend that dyes the soup red and jettisons the flavor.
Time50 minutes
YieldsServes 8 to 12

Creamy Tomato Soup

Like the iconic canned soup, this easy from-scratch version is smooth and sweet. It's perfect for dipping grilled cheese sandwiches.
Time1 hour, largely unattended
YieldsServes 4

Roasted Tomato Soup

Tomatoes are roasted with garlic, herbs and a little olive oil until they are practically falling apart, pureed and finished with a bit of heavy cream.
Time10 minutes
YieldsServes 2

Grub's Spinach-Mushroom-Ginger Soup

Betty Fraser of Grub Gals Catering and Hollywood's Hidden House was happy to share the recipe for Grub's Spinach-Mushroom-Ginger Soup. It's rich and flavorful, and also simple to make.
Time1 hour 45 minutes
YieldsServes 4

Black bean tortilla soup

A great tortilla soup can be a revelation -- rich with an intriguing roasted-corn flavor, vibrant with color and toasty, tantalizing aromas.
Time1 hour 55 minutes
YieldsServes 8

Sopa de bolitas de tortilla (tortilla ball soup)

Tortillas are dried, pulverized into crumbs, mixed with cotija cheese, milk and egg and formed into small balls which are fried and then briefly simmered in the soup broth.
Time1 hour
YieldsServes 6

Creamy butternut squash soup with ginger

Simple, rustic and filling, this soup, accented with fresh ginger, is a great use for smaller honeynut or acorn squash.
Time1 hour 10 minutes
YieldsServes 6

Chickpea and Escarole Soup With Crispy Bread Crumbs

Homemade tomato-based chickpea and escarole soup gets an added crunch thanks to crispy bread crumbs.
Time50 minutes
YieldsServes 4

Miso Soup with Tofu and Enoki Mushrooms

Koji or mugi miso paste is used as the base of this soup which features tofu, enoki mushrooms and green onion.
Time15 minutes
YieldsServes 4

Tom Kha Gai (Coconut Chicken Soup )

The Thai favorite tom kha gai, or coconut chicken soup, gets sour flavor from lime juice, saltiness from fish sauce and spiciness from Thai chiles.
Time15 minutes
YieldsServes 4 to 6