Imagine a perfect winter night. Outside, the temperatures are freezing and the sky is inky black. You're indoors under a warm blanket, and a fireplace nearby is crackling with dancing flames. It's cozy and comfortable. But you know what? It's also just past six o'clock.
Winter can be a beautiful and heartwarming season, but it can also be long. Very, very long. And when its endless nights seem to drag through the hours, this otherwise peaceful period can be a challenge to get through. That's why winter soups are so appealing. Not only do they tap into the snuggle-ready feeling in the air, but they also put those long hours to use with little effort on your end.
We found 12 winter soups to try from now until spring so that your early sunsets can be met with delicious meals. From a Tuscan white bean and sausage soup with a parmesan topping to a classic chicken soup with an unexpected addition of farro—and other options that put a twist on classic dishes—these 12 are sure to bring some added excitement to your winter nights. And hey, as lovely as they can be, sometimes those easy thrills are needed.
Vegetarian Crockpot Lasagna Soup
As versatile and delicious as a classic casserole dish of lasagna is, its predictability can be boring. Enter this inventive twist from , which takes all of the flavors and comforts of lasagna and transforms them into a soup. "Most of the lasagna soup recipes I've seen are made with sausage or ground beef to replicate the classic Italian recipe," Heidi Larsen says. "But because I'm trying to add more meatless meals to our dinner table, I took this slow cooker soup down the vegetable-only path." Larsen uses diced yellow onions, crushed tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, and herbs to flavor her dish, and finishes it with a ricotta cheese topping.
Keep in mind: "Once the cooking time is done, cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions, drain, and add to the soup," she says.
Slow Cooker Tuscan White Bean and Sausage Soup
Larsen also uses a slow cooker to make this equally delicious Italian-inspired soup on , which is filled with its dual namesake ingredients alongside diced butternut squash, celery, carrots, and kale. "The meatballs are simply made from Italian sausage that's rolled into mini meatballs," she says. "The fat in the sausage balls keeps them from needing a sear before cooking, as it acts as the glue holding the meat together." This time, parmesan is added to the top.
Keep in mind: "I used baby kale leaves in this recipe but curly kale or Swiss chard would be tempting alternatives," Larsen notes.
Slow Cooker Corn Chowder
Chowder is a classic cold-weather soup, and Larsen puts yet another spin on her version for by making corn a star ingredient. An almond and cashew milk blend acts as the base, and then bacon, yellow onion, potatoes, carrots, and celery are added, too. "Bay leaves, kosher salt, and one of the most underused herbs, dried marjoram, impart lots of flavor," she says. "It's one herb you'll want to add to your spice drawer."
Keep in mind: "I would avoid letting this soup boil or overcook—another plus for cooking it in the crock pot," Larsen says. "Since slow cookers all cook at different temperatures, take note to watch your broth during the last half hour of cooking."
Slow Cooker Turkey and Sweet Potato Chili
We couldn't move on from without mentioning this hearty chili recipe, even if it skirts the line of being categorized as a soup. Lean ground turkey, sweet potato, garlic, yellow onion, jalapeño, crushed tomatoes, and kidney beans are a few of the many ingredients that comprise this layered dish, making for a meal that gets better with every bite. "The real reason for making chili with the slow cooker method is simply for the flavors to meld rather than for the ingredients to cook," she says.
Keep in mind: "Be sure to add enough liquid so your chili doesn't stick to the bottom of the cooker and begin to burn," Larsen notes. "I add quinoa to the chili for extra protein, but quinoa also thickens the sauce as it absorbs more of the liquid."
Crockpot Tuscan White Bean and Lemon Soup
Tieghan Gerard of specifically made this recipe for cold winter months because its ingredients—quinoa, carrots, onion, kale, sage, and basil pesto, to name a few—work with the title foods to create a meal that's comforting and hearty. "I wanted to keep this soup mostly loaded with veggies, so to give the broth added flavor, I threw in a parmesan rind," she says. "I promise, this is the key to this recipe. The rind adds so much flavor without having to add in a million other ingredients."
Keep in mind: "Be sure to serve the soup topped with plenty of fresh shaved parmesan and a hunk of crusty bread," Gerard notes. "It's truly the only way to enjoy it."
Slow Cooker Hearty Chicken Soup
Winter colds are never fun, and if one hits this season, this recipe from is a no-brainer. The traditional flavors of carrots, celery, and rosemary are mixed with parsnips, leeks, and dry farro alongside bone-in chicken breasts or thighs for a rich and familiar taste. "Like most slow cooker recipes, you add all the ingredients to your slow cooker, forget about it, and come home to the best home cooked soup," Gerard says. "Add farro and you're done."
Keep in mind: "One tip if you do end up having leftovers, or plan to make this for meal prep: I recommend either removing the farro (you could also use pasta) from the soup before storing, or just cooking the noodles separately and adding them to your bowl before serving," she adds.
Slow Cooker Creamy Wild Rice Soup With Butter-Roasted Mushrooms
This is the type of slow-cooker meal that is so warm and inviting that you could serve it to guests on a particularly chilly evening. Gerard whips it up using wild rice, onion, carrots, heavy cream, and white wine, and then adds butter-roasted mushrooms to the top. "Mash the garlic with a fork, and then stir the mushrooms, mashed garlic, and any butter left into the soup," she says.
Keep in mind: "The crisp, roasted mushrooms are what complete the soup and give it that extra layer of flavor and texture," Gerard notes.
Crockpot Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup
If you prefer for your soups to come with some added heat, then this last recipe from should be on your meal plan. It's made with enchilada sauce, jalapeños, garlic, cilantro, rice, and chicken breast, plus a loaded topping that includes tortilla chips and diced mangoes. "I've always made my tortilla soup with enchilada sauce," Gerard says. "I know it's not even close to traditional, but I feel like anything topped with tortilla chips, avocado, and cheese can be called tortilla soup, right?"
Keep in mind: "My mom taught me the very important life lesson that soup needs carbs, and rice is a pretty darn good option," Gerard adds.
Coconut Curry Lentil Soup
Sometimes a dreary winter day needs nothing more than a little color, and this recipe from delivers on a bold hue and an even bolder flavor. Natalie Mortimer makes it with coconut milk, lentils, chicken stock, curry powder, kale, sweet potatoes, and grated ginger, and serves it with warm bread. "In this soup, the broth is rich enough to omit meat, but I've added sweet potatoes, kale, onions, loads of curry, garlic, and ginger for extra flavor," she says.
Keep in mind: "Add in the kale halfway through the cooking process for brighter, firmer kale," Mortimer notes.
Slow Cooker Cheeseburger Soup
Save this recipe from for a winter night when you're craving something decadent. Tiffany Azure re-creates the flavors of a cheeseburger in this soup—using ground beef, potatoes, heavy cream, garlic powder, carrots, and herbs—and tops it all with cheese, green onions, and bacon bits. "The ground beef, sharp cheddar cheese, and potatoes make this soup hearty, filling, and just the thing to warm you up as the weather cools off," she says.
Keep in mind: "About 30 minutes before serving, add oil and ground beef to a large sauce pan and stir over medium heat for four to five minutes," Azure says. "Later, add cream mixture, ground beef, and shredded cheese to crock pot."
Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie Soup
Azure also reimagines the comfort of chicken pot pie with this recipe in , which uses chicken breasts, potatoes, peas, corn, carrots, and biscuit dough in a soup of heavy cream and chicken broth. "If you've got veggie haters in your house, this is a great way to get them to love their peas, corn, and carrots," she adds.
Keep in mind: "About 30 minutes before serving, shred chicken with two forks and stir in heavy cream, salt, and pepper to taste," Azure notes.
Slow Cooker Sausage, Lentil, and Arugula Soup
Melanie Bauer of creates this colorful, complex recipe using the namesake ingredients and not much more. Chopped onion, minced garlic, diced tomatoes, and chicken stock are added to the mix and left to combine over three to six hours. "If you can brown sausage and then literally toss every other ingredient in your slow cooker, then you can consider dinner done," she says.
Keep in mind: "Before serving, stir arugula into soup until wilted," Bauer notes.
Serve your soup using these items: