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Piping hot soup perfect warm-me-up meal

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January is National Soup Month, and with the cold temperatures that have been hitting us lately, nothing is better than a piping hot bowl of soup at mealtime, whether it's for lunch or as the main staple at dinnertime.

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This week, I'm featuring a variety of soup recipes sure to appeal to everyone's tastes and senses, many of which are crockpot material, making daily meal planning even easier. I previewed some of these a year ago in my column and am printing them again this week at the request of several of my readers.

I've prepared most of these several times in my own kitchen to great reviews from family and guests.

The Crockpot Hamburger Soup is easy and delicious. .

The French Onion soup is also awesome and so conveniently easy once you have the onions sautéed. Since this recipe goes in the crockpot, it's important not to over sauté your onions to begin with. This soup is great served as a segue to a main course or as a warming supper in itself paired with a salad, crusty bread and fruit.

If any of you have any personally favorite soup recipes you'd like to share, I'd love to have them. I will be featuring another 'soup only' column this winter, and would be pleased to include them.

Until next time, from my kitchen to yours, happy cooking!

Crockpot Hamburger Soup

1 pound lean ground beef, browned and drained

2 cups canned tomatoes

8 oz. tomato sauce

2 cups water

One large package frozen vegetables or canned vegetables (I use mixed)

1 package dry onion soup mix

Mix all ingredients and cook on low in crockpot.

Corn Chowder

6 slices of bacon, diced

½ cup chopped onions

2 cups diced, peeled potatoes

2 10-oz. packages frozen corn

16-oz. can cream style corn

1 tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. seasoned salt

¼ tsp. pepper

Brown bacon in skillet until crisp. Remove bacon and reserve drippings. Add onions and potatoes to skillet and sauté five minutes. Drain. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Mix well. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours.

Ten Minute Tomato Soup

2 cups crushed canned tomatoes

½ tsp. baking soda

2 cups whole milk

2 tbsp. butter or margarine

In a large, heavy saucepan, heat tomatoes until boiling. Remove from heat, add remaining ingredients. Return to heat and cook on medium until butter is melted and the soup is heated through.

Hamburger Vegetable Soup

1 pound ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

½ large green pepper, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

8 cups beef broth

2 cans (14 ½ ounces each) Italian stewed tomatoes

1 package (9 oz.) frozen cut green beans

1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce

1 cup small pasta

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried basil

½ tsp. pepper

In a Dutch oven or soup kettle, cook the beef, onion, green pepper and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink, drain. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables and pasta are tender.

Creamy Clam Chowder

1 large onion, chopped

3 mediums carrots, chopped

2 celery ribs, sliced

¾ cup butter, cubed

2 cans (10 ¾ ounces each) condensed cream of potato soup, undiluted

3 cans (6 ½ ounces each) minced clams

3 tbsp. cornstarch

1 quart half and half cream

In a large saucepan, sauté the onion, carrots and celery in butter until tender. Stir in the potato soup and two cans of undrained clams. Drain and discard the juice from the remaining can of clams; add clams to soup.

Combine cornstarch and a small amount of the half and half until smooth. Stir into soup. Add the remaining half and half. Bring to a boil, cook and stir for two minutes or until thickened.

White Chili

1 pound skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½ inch cubes

1 medium onion, chopped

1 ½ tsp. garlic powder

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 cans (15 ½ ounce each) great northern beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (14 ½ ounce) chicken broth

2 cans (4 ounces each) chopped green chilies

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. dried oregano

½ tsp. pepper

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream

½ cup heavy whipping cream

In a large saucepan, sauté chicken, onion and garlic powder in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Add the beans, broth, chilies and seasoning. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in sour cream and heavy whipping cream. Garnish with shredded cheese if so desired.

Rich French Onion Soup

6 large onions, chopped

½ cup butter

6 cans (10 ½ ounces each) condensed beef broth, diluted

1 ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce

3 bay leaves

10 slices French bread, toasted

Shredded Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses

Sauté onions in butter in large skillet until crisp-tender. Transfer to an ungreased 5-quart slow cooker. Add the broth, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Cook on low for 5-7 hours or until the onions are tender. Discard bay leaves. Top each serving with the French bread and cheeses.

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