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COLUMN: Satisfy your cold weather cravings with soups and stews


Darn Good Soup's chicken tortilla was one of its soups offered Tuesday. The restaurant rotates what it sells daily.  Rose Bythrow Buy Photos

If my weather forecast for this week is accurate, it seems like we’re finally in the clear to hunker down for the cold weather ahead. Yes, soup and stew season has arrived at long last.

Besides my annoyance at still sweating on my walks to class in October, I’ve been so ready for fall weather just so I can bust out my favorite soup recipes. 

I had my first taste of chili at a recent tailgate after almost two years without (it may not be a shocker that I didn’t come across chili during my study abroad trip in France) and I felt my taste buds rejoicing. No football season is complete without a crockpot of chili simmering away in the kitchen or on the table at a tailgate. 

The recipe my mom uses is delicious and my personal favorite. The great thing about stews and soups is that most of the work is done during the simmering anyway, so it’s easy to start in the morning and finish it later. 

See the recipe below to make my mom's chili recipe, which is perfect for any chilly day and extremely tasty.

If you’re not up for making your own creations in the kitchen, Bloomington has plenty of restaurants to take shelter in during the winter months to enjoy a hearty bowl of soup or stew. 

An obvious choice here is Darn Good Soup. This is by far one of my favorite local spots and for good reason: it has exactly what the name advertises and little else. They are the best at what they do and I personally don’t think I’ve had a soup in town that compares with one at Darn Good. They change their menu each day, and they always have vegan and vegetarian options available among the eight to 10 choices. 

Joseph Nejman serves soup at Darn Good Soup on Tuesday. Darn Good Soup rotates its soups daily to include flavors like cheesy tomatillo, chicken tortilla and lentil spinach. Rose Bythrow Buy Photos

If you haven’t been yet, drop what you’re doing and go now. 

Another tasty option I recently tried is at Anyetsang’s Little Tibet Restaurant on Fourth Street. One of their Tibetan specialties is Kham Amdo Thugpa, a stew with handmade Tibetan noodles and vegetables like daikon radish, onion and tomato. Handmade noodles are life-changing in any recipe, and in this one they are so soft and delicious I crave them all the time. This stew is also a great option for vegetarians. 

One of my favorite foods any time of year is hot and sour soup because I have great memories of going to the same Chinese restaurant in my hometown since I was a little kid. Red Restaurant on Walnut Street serves up great Sichuan cuisine and their version of hot and sour soup is worth a visit. The spice will warm you up from the inside out but it doesn’t overpower the tangy flavor.

Whether you’re willing to brave the cold for a delicious bowl of soup at your favorite downtown restaurant or are happy to keep a pot simmering on the stove all night, you’re going to feel cozy and satisfied with a happy stomach. 

Chili Recipe


1 pound 80% ground beef

1 large yellow onion, chopped. Set 2 tbsp. aside

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 fresh or 2 tbsp. jarred jalapenos, diced (OPTIONAL)

1 16 oz can chili beans (any brand), do not strain

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

1 packet chili seasoning (Williams if available)

2 tbsp. oil

Salt and pepper

8 oz bag shredded cheddar cheese for topping

Directions: Use a large pot, turn heat to medium high. Add oil, onion and garlic (and jalapeno if using). Sauté until onion is translucent, not browned — about 3 minutes. Add a dash of salt and pepper to the onion and garlic mix, stir. Add the seasoning packet contents to taste; stir to combine with the onion and garlic for 1-2 minutes (half a packet will give you a mild chili, the entire packet will be a robust flavor.) Add the ground beef and cook until browned. Add the chili beans and tomatoes, stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, put on the lid and let simmer 15-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve in a bowl and top with reserved diced onion and shredded cheese. Accompaniments vary from corn chips, tortilla chips, corn bread and crackers.

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