A delicious bowl of homemade soup becomes a source of great enjoyment for many homes on cold wintry days. Lucky for us, soup recipes do not have to be precise, a little more or less of the ingredients is mostly a matter of taste. Some soups are thick while others are thin. Some soups are subtle while others are spicy. Certain soups can be cooked in 30 minutes and some require hours of slow simmering. Some even taste better when heated the next day. Among our favorites are the following:

Old time navy bean soup

1 lb. dried beans (navy, pea or Great Northern), rinsed and picked over

Water (half water and chicken broth gives more flavor)

1 meaty ham bone

3 med. diced potatoes

1 large onion, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup diced celery

2 cloves garlic, minced

Note: Can add to the soup in the last 20 minutes: 2 to 3 cups chopped, cooked turkey (or chicken).

In large kettle or pot, soak beans overnight; next morning add liquid to cover beans. Add ham bone, bring to a boil and skim. Cover, then simmer 2 hours or until beans begin to fall apart. Add potatoes, onion, celery and garlic. Simmer 1 hour longer, adding turkey if desired. Note: can be frozen.

Split Pea Soup w/ Sausage Balls

1 lb. split peas

3 qt. water

2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. marjoram

1 lb. pork sausage

1 cup diced celery

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup diced potatoes

Wash peas and sort. In large pan, combine water and seasonings; bring to a boil. Add pea’s gradually so water won’t stop boiling. Shape sausage into 1 inch balls and roll in flour. Drop into soup; cover and simmer until sausage is well done and peas are tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. About 30 to 40 minutes before cooking is finished, add vegetables. This is a delicious hearty soup which can be served with cornbread and is so good!

Velvet chicken soup

1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick)

5 to 6 heaping tablespoons flour

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 cups chicken broth

1 cup cooked chicken or turkey, chopped

White pepper, to taste

1/4 to l/2 cup shredded Swiss or American cheese

In a large pot, make a roux by melting butter with flour. Stir until smooth. Slowly add in milk, cream and chicken broth. Cook over medium heat, stirring until mixture thickens and almost comes to a boil. Lower heat to simmer. Add chicken, white pepper, and cheese. Stir to melt cheese.

Hearty potato soup

4 large potatoes, peeled and sliced

3 med. onions, sliced

1 qt. water

4 chicken bouillon cubes

1/4 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup grated carrots

1 cup light cream or half and half

2 Tbsp. butter or margarine

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 tsp. dried herbs

Dash of parsley for garnish

In saucepan, combine potatoes, onions, celery, and carrots. Add water and bouillon. Simmer about 45 minutes or until very soft. Mash partial mixture; add cream, butter or margarine. Heat, do not boil. Add herbs, salt and pepper, sprinkle with parsley. Note: Soup may be chilled well and served cold.