Several years ago, my mom and I put together a book of our favorite sides, soups, stews, and desserts. Then we sent them to friends and family as a gift. We called it “The Joy of Cooking (with Mom).”
In the recipe book are family favorites that warm my heart and soul, even more so now that my mother has passed. (I recommend doing this, by the way; it’s a great memory to have!)
In honor of my lovely mom and our love of eating, here are five fall soup and stew recipes that not only keep you feeling cozy and warm but that your family will also love. Autumn is here, and you know what that means. It’s time for a nice bowl of hearty soup!
Hearty Taco Soup
My mother loved football, and this taco soup during football season was one of her faves! I have to admit, I did not love football, but I loved football season. There was always a game on in our house, which meant something warm was simmering on the stove. This taco soup recipe is a super, simple recipe we threw together pretty often in our house growing up.
Brown the ground beef and onions in a large skillet.
Then, drain the excess fat, and transfer the browned beef and onions to a large slow cooker or stockpot.
Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, green chilies, taco seasoning, and ranch dressing mix.
Cook in a stockpot for one hour or in the crockpot for six hours. Serve with sour cream, cheese, and sliced jalapenos (if you like the spice)!
This goulash recipe probably isn’t one you’ve ever had. For starters, this recipe has potatoes, not pasta, which is traditional for most goulash recipes. Second, it doesn’t contain many spices and vegetables (like carrots) that generally make it into the recipe. And last, it’s super simple! If you want, you can jazz up with some extras. My mom often made this, and it was one of my faves, even in its simplicity!
Cut up potatoes into chunks and boil them on the stove until almost fully tender; make sure they’re just undercooked (getting too done will make your goulash mushy!).
While potatoes boil, crumble, and fry hamburger until browned. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour in both cans of tomato sauce.
Drain potato chunks and fold them into tomato sauce and meat mixture. Simmer for 10 minutes, then enjoy!
Gran's Chicken & Dumplings
Even today, there isn’t a meal that can hold a candle up to my grandmother’s chicken and dumpling recipe. Even when I did make these, they were never quite what Gran would make. Everything is better with a grandmother’s loving touch!
Mom and I found Gran’s original chicken and dumpling recipe once she passed. I consider this a true gem!
Boil chicken in a large stockpot using chicken broth (use as much chicken broth as needed to cover the chicken). If using a large chicken fryer, debone. Once the chicken is cooked through, set aside. Once cool, shred chicken into bite-size pieces. Reserve your chicken broth for the dumplings.
While the chicken is boiling, make a dumpling mixture by beating eggs and one teaspoon salt. Add melted butter and milk, then beat in one cup of flour. Beat one minute, then add 2 cups of flour and stir lightly. This makes a stiff dough.
Use the last cup of flour on the dough board. Roll dough to a thin sheet using only ⅓ dough at each rolling. Cut into strips and add to boiling broth a few at a time. Bring to boil between each addition of dough. Repeat until all dough is used. Cook until done, about 10 minutes. Add chicken broth as needed while adding dough, but do not make soupy. Once all dumplings are fully in the stockpot and cooked, add in chicken and one cup of milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.
(Note: My Gran made chicken and dumplings like this until the day she died, and they are so yummy! So, of course, we miss Gran’s homemade dough, but we’ve found that using rolled and cut biscuits (just the simple, small kind, not the butter, flakey, fancy kind) makes this recipe taste almost as good—and it’s quicker!).
Irish Beef Stew
I sought out an Irish beef stew recipe to please my meat-eating Irish husband. This soup was the winner! It’s a recipe that, while involved, will produce the most fantastic stew. It’s hearty, warm, and feels comforting on a brisk fall day.
Heat olive oil in a heavy stockpot over medium-high heat. Lightly salt the beef chunks. In batches, add the beef (don’t overcrowd the pan, or the meat will steam, not brown). Cook, without stirring, until all meat is nicely browned on one side, then use tongs to turn the pieces over to brown on all other sides. Continue to cook pieces until all chunks are browned.
To stockpot, add garlic and saute for one minute. Add beef stock, Guinness, red wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer one hour, stirring occasionally.
While the meat and stock are simmering, melt butter in another large pot over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion, and carrots. Saute vegetables until golden, about 20 minutes. Set aside until the beef stew in step one has simmered for one hour.
Add vegetables to beef stew. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Tilt pan and spoon off fat. Spoon up and serve! Add salt, pepper, and parsley to taste.
Creamy Baked Potato Soup
There is nothing like creamy baked potato soup on a fabulous fall day! Serve this up in a bread bowl for even more yummy goodness.
Peel potatoes, and cut into chunks. Boil potatoes in water until firm, almost tender. Drain and set aside.
While boiling potatoes, fry bacon slices until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel to cool. Once cooled, crumble into small pieces. Set aside.
In a large stockpot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook until tender (about 3-4 minutes). Add in flour and whisk until smooth to make a creamy base. Gradually add chicken broth while continuing to whisk. Bring to simmer, then add salt, garlic salt, and pepper. Keep simmering until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 6-8 minutes. Finally, stir in cheese and sour cream.
Once melted, add potato chunks to the soup mixture. Heat through about 5-10 minutes—shorter if you like your potatoes chunky; longer if you want your potatoes a bit creamier.
Serve hot and garnish with extra cheese, chives, or bacon as desired.