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When your lips are chapped, your nose is running, and you’re trying to save money on your heating bill, the last thing you want to eat is a salad. But that doesn’t mean you can’t eat a healthy dinner. Just throw a few ingredients in your crockpot before you leave in the morning and you can come home to a house that smells amazing and a bowl of soup that tastes like health and happiness. If you’re lucky enough to be making one of these soups, stews, or chilis on a weekend, you’ll get to enjoy the delicious aromas wafting through your house while you read, watch movies, and snuggle with the fur babies. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a crockpot to fill and some cozy wintertime dreaming to catch up on.
Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili
Chili is one of the most filling, rich, flavorful meals you can eat in the wintertime. If you’re new to meatless meals, you might not have a chili recipe up your sleeve yet. This Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili from Love and Lemons is definitely a good one to try! It’s got the mellow, warm goodness of butternut squash along with fresh flavors like lime and cherry tomatoes. If you love chipotle, chili powder, and all the yummy toppings that go along with chili, go crazy on this one - you can add grilled corn kernels, cilantro, crumbled tortillas chips, and dollops of poblano cashew cream. OH YEAH.
Slow Cooker Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup
If you’ve never added lemon to a chicken soup before, I urge you to give it a try. This Slow Cooker Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup is one of my favorite feel-good, get-better meals that you can keep slurping up gratefully for days. It only gets better as the flavors of rosemary, thyme, bay, garlic, and onion meld with the chicken, carrots, and onions in the refrigerator, just waiting for you to wake them up in the microwave or on the stovetop. If you can’t readily find orzo, feel free to substitute some ditalini (the same pasta that you’ll find in minestrone. Feel free to save some extra lemon zest and juice aside to freshen up each serving as you bring it out for lunch or dinner (or a pre-bedtime soothing meal if your throat is feeling sore).
Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
Mexican food is so, so good, and it’s never been better than in this Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup from one of my favorite blogs of all time, Budget Bytes. She makes this one super cheap, super easy, and super delicious. And as Beth (Budget Bytes genius creator) says, “It’s vegan, super filling, low cal, high fiber, high protein, full of veggies, and costs next to nothing. Need I say more?” This is one that’s just begging for you to top it with anything you love on tacos or chili - try a dollop of sour cream, crispy tortilla strips, green onions, cilantro, pepitas, cheddar or pepper jack cheese, or even a scoop of cooked rice to make it a complete meal. If the monochromatic palate of this soup is holding you back, don’t let it - it’s so full of flavors that you’ll be closing your eyes, just savoring every bite. I would probably be all about crisping up some quick quesadillas to dip in this.
Slow Cooker Quinoa White Chili with Roasted Poblanos
Have you ever roasted poblano peppers? I love them sauteed in some heavy cream with some queso Oaxaca for a classic rajas con queso, but that’s not really what I’d call...healthy. This Slow Cooker Quinoa White Chili with Roasted Poblanos uses those same amazing peppers, but with nutritious mellow, nutty Cannellini beans, onions, peppers, oregano, cumin, smoked paprika, and a little sprinkle of cloves. I love unique, spicy flavors like these! If you don’t have time to make the roasted poblanos, the author recommends substituting a couple cans of diced green chilis (but really, do the poblanos if you have time). Garnish with fresh lime juice, chopped cilantro, sour cream or Greek yogurt, and Monterey jack cheese. This wouldn’t be out of place at a football party; it also would fit perfectly in your bed with some big fluffy pillows, a patchwork quilt, Netflix, and dark chocolate spiced with chili.
African Inspired Vegetarian Crockpot Soup
If you’ve never experienced African cuisine of any kind, this soup is a great place to start. Obviously, there’s an incredible diversity of flavors (we’re talking about a whole continent here), but I love the combination of peanut butter with veggies and grains. It’s packed with protein and it smells so yummy and tempting when you walk in the door to a crockpot full of this African Inspired Vegetarian Crockpot Soup. This one uses both brown rice and lentils to bulk up the onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes. In addition to the rich, fatty creaminess of the peanut butter, you’ll taste Ancho chile powder, New Mexico chile powder, and Aleppo pepper. If you don’t have all three, feel free to use any combination of the above. There’s very little prep work before you start your slow cooker so it’s easy to throw together on a freezing morning and come home to later in the day.
Root Vegetable Stew
Sometimes simple is best. When I hear the word “root veggies,” I think of reading the Little House on the Prairie series when I was young and learning about how frontier families stored hardy vegetables in their attics or cellars during the cold months of the year to preserve them. Making this Root Vegetable Stew is a very seasonal choice whether you’re growing your own garden or just picking these up at the grocery store or farmer’s market. Here, the author uses an impressive variety of those root-top vegetables: onions, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes, and garlic. Then she adds butternut squash, kale, and celery for even more flavor and texture. But the best is yet to come, because then, THEN, she fries up some fresh sage leaves for a crispy topping with out-of-this-world flavor. It makes a simple, vegetarian stew into a fancy dish you can serve with some crusty buttered bread and call it dinner.