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Cozy Winter Recipes

It's soup season, and a hearty meal doesn't have to mean one devoid of nutrition

As we move deep into the Missouri winter, people tend to crave heartier and filling foods like chili, soup, pasta — basically anything warm and carb-heavy! These carb-laden cravings don’t always have to look unhealthy — you just have to get a bit more creative with what you put in the pot.

Whenever I’m craving something filling but healthy, I lean into soup mode, as George Castanza infamously said. Soup is such an easy way to sneak in your vegetables. Whatever veggies are going stale in your fridge can be made new again by soup. This leek and potato soup was inspired by all those forgotten vegetables sitting in the back of the fridge. Its bright green color is fun, and the depth of flavor is found in coconut milk, which is an excellent sub for heavy cream (plus, it’s shelf-stable, too!). 

This soup recipe is served with some homemade sourdough bread, which is great for the winter immune system as well. The natural bacteria that develop in the starter are great for the body — not to mention have tons of antioxidants.

This soup/bread combination is also accompanied by my favorite sauce ever — yogurt sauce. Yogurt sauce can be used with so many savory foods. It adds a nice, creamy richness needed to balance out heavier, starchy meals. My yogurt sauce is made with Greek yogurt and a few other ingredients, which adds some probiotic tanginess to the soup.

So, lean into those winter cravings with me. Find new ways to make hearty meals more nutritious, and top everything with yogurt sauce. I promise it won’t disappoint.

Quickest Sourdough 

40g or 2 tbsp sourdough starter (see recipe below)

400g or 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water

200g or 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

200g or 1 ½ cups bread flour

15g or 2 ½ tsp salt

Special equipment needed: A kitchen scale and a Dutch oven

Note: You’re going to want to start making this dough the day before, so the dough can rest overnight.

1.     Measure all ingredients in a large-sized bowl, and stir with your hands to make sure all ingredients get incorporated. You can use a rubber spatula, but I find my hands are the best tool for this sticky dough. Make sure there is no dry flour left! Weighing ingredients is the best way to make bread, but if you don’t have a scale on hand, you can measure them – though you’ll eventually want a scale if you keep making sourdough.

2.     Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and let sit for about 20 minutes before touching it again.

3.     Get your hands wet so they don’t stick to the dough and fold each of the four corners to the middle. We want to stretch the dough like this to build up gluten strength and to shape the bread! Repeat this folding every 30 minutes for 3 hours. 

4.     Once you have folded the dough a total of 6 times, the shape should take form and the dough should be oh so smooth. Sprinkle some flour on the table and carefully scrape the dough out of the bowl. You don’t want to pop any of the air bubbles that are forming within, so make sure you scrape it out gently.

The dough needs to be preshaped. This is done by stretching the four corners into the middle, then, stretching the four diagonal corners into the center of the dough. Repeat this until a circle shape starts to form. 

Turn the dough over in the flour, and let it rest for 15 minutes with the smooth side up. 

5.     To shape the dough, flip the dough once again and fold the top two corners over one another, and continue to do so like a two-strand braid. Now, roll the dough into a tight little log, with the braided seam on the bottom. We want the roll to be as tight as possible for a well-shaped loaf.

Transfer the little bread log to a proofing basket or floured bowl, seam-side up this time. Tie a grocery sack around the basket/colander and put it in the fridge to proof overnight, anywhere from 8-10 hours. 

6.     The next morning, set your oven to 450 degrees and place a lidded Dutch oven inside to heat up. Preheat the baking vessel for at least an hour — this helps the crust become nice and crisp in the oven. 

7.     Right before you put the dough in the Dutch oven, tear a piece of parchment paper big enough to hold the dough and then some, and flip the dough onto it, seam-side down now. Sprinkle flour over the top of the smooth loaf and score the dough with a razor or very sharp knife. One cut down the length of the bread is perfect for this loaf. 

Remove your Dutch oven from the oven, and transfer the dough into it, using two corners of the parchment paper to lift the bread into the Dutch oven. Put the lid on and transfer to the oven. 

8.     Bake for 15 minutes, then take the lid off the Dutch oven. Your crust should be set, and you can clearly see the scoring work. Continue baking the bread in the oven for at least 40 more minutes, or until the crust is nice and dark brown. There is nothing worse than undercooked bread!

Now, let your bread cool down before cutting into it. Enjoy with leek soup or any other warm, winter dish you are serving. 

Yogurt Sauce 

2 grated garlic cloves

2 cups full-fat Greek yogurt 

¼ cup olive oil

2 tbsp salt

½ cup chopped cilantro 

½ cup basil or your herb of choice

Put all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until well combined. Add salt and olive oil to taste. 

Spoon this over leek soup, or honestly any other savory dish! Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for one week.

Sourdough Starter

Rye flour


Making a sourdough starter is easier than most people think. You’ll just need rye flour and lukewarm water. 

1.     Weigh out 50g (or 1/3 cup) of rye flour in a bowl. Then, add 50g (or 3 tbsp) of lukewarm water and stir with a fork until there are no dry spots. 

2.     Put the starter in a jar, but leave the lid unscrewed just a little so the starter can ferment well. Leave in a warm spot in the house. 

3.     After making your starter, you need to feed it. Feeding your starter looks very similar. Just weigh 50g (or 3 Tbsp) active starter, 50g lukewarm water, and 50g of rye flour and mix in a separate bowl, discarding the excess starter. You can also use the discarded starter to bake with! There are many sourdough discard recipes if you search. 

4.     Repeat this feeding for 4 days, and your starter should be ready and active enough to make bread! After 4 days of feeding, your starter should have visible fermentation bubbles. It should also smell a little funky. 

5.     Keep feeding your starter every day to keep it alive, or store it in the fridge and just feed once a week. 

Leek and Potato Soup

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp chilli powder

½ tbsp cumin

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp cayenne pepper (if you like it spicy)

1 bunch of hearty greens (kale, spinach, chard, whatever you prefer!)

1 potato, diced

1 leek, chopped

1 bunch cilantro, chopped with some set aside for garnish

1 yellow onion diced

3 cloves garlic minced

1 can full-fat coconut milk

2 limes

1.     Set a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. 

2.     Let olive oil get up to temp and add the chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and allspice. Stirring constantly, let the spices simmer in the oil for about 2 minutes.

3.     Next, add the onion and garlic to the oil and spice mixture, stirring constantly so they don’t burn. Add a good tablespoon of salt and some cracked pepper to the garlic and onion. 

4.     After the onion is translucent and is coated in the spices, you can add the rest of the veggies — greens, leek, potato, cilantro. Let these veggies cook down, about 5 minutes. 

5.     Next, add the coconut milk, turn the heat on high and let the mixture come to a boil.  

6.     After it boils, turn down the heat and let the mixture simmer, with the lid on, for about 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.

7.     Remove from the heat, and, working in batches, blend the soup until it’s a creamy consistency — you can do this with a blender or an immersion blender.

8.     Pour the soup back into your pan and let simmer a few more minutes before serving. Add salt and lime juice to taste. 

9.     Garnish soup with yogurt sauce and cilantro leaves. Serve with bread.