Winter is the right time to make big steaming pots of food―the kind that nourishes the spirit as well as the body.

Hearty Soup Recipes, Red Wine Beef Stew
Credit: Beth Dreiling Hontzas


There's nothing quite so cozy as a pot of soup or stew bubbling away on the stove. So celebrate cold weather―pull out your Dutch oven, and try one of these bountiful batches.

Simmer the ham hocks for hours to make the base for Pot Likker Soup. You'll get the nutritional goodness of a mess of greens bathed in lots of rich, smoky ham broth. Creole Shrimp and Grits, our twist on two regional favorites, would be great to serve at a casual dinner party. Red Wine Beef Stew offers the warmth of vegetables cooked in a delicious broth.

Best of all, these offer small families enough for leftovers. They're kind to the wallet and easy on your schedule. Prepare an extra batch or two to freeze, and life will be less stressful when you're too busy or tired to cook.

Why We Love Dutch Ovens
Dutch ovens―large heavy pots with tight-fitting lids―may be the perfect big cookware. These muscular, two-handled cooking vessels perform equally well when boiling water for pasta, making the sauce, frying hushpuppies, or roasting a pork butt. Enameled cast-iron versions are favorites for their ability to surround food with heat, allowing them to cook low and slow as well as searingly fast. This makes cast-iron Dutch ovens an excellent choice for browning meat such as a pot roast and then cooking it over very low heat on the cooktop or in the oven. Best of all, they come in a rainbow of colors, so they are as enjoyable to look at as they are to use.

Slightly lighter models―stainless steel or anodized aluminum, for example―also work very well for any of these tasks. You likely have one if you purchased a set of cookware or received one as a wedding present. But most Dutch ovens can be purchased individually, and it can be useful to have two of them for those times when you're cooking pasta sauce in one and want to cook the spaghetti to go along with it at the same time. Just be sure to choose one with a good, heavy bottom for even heat distribution.