1. Homemade stock or broth is tasty but time consuming to make. For convenience, buy good-quality liquid broth in cartons or jars — they're much better than mixing water with too-salty bouillon cubes.
2. For thicker soups, remove and purée some of the cooked vegetables, then return purée to the pot. Or mix one part cornstarch with two parts cold liquid and stir slowly into simmering soup.
3. To remove excess fat, drop in a lettuce leaf; it will absorb grease from the top. If your soup refrigerates overnight, remove surface fat before reheating.
4. Use portion-size, freezer-specific containers; smaller portions freeze faster and taste fresher when thawed. Leave a bit of room to allow for expansion when the soup freezes.

Black Bean and Shiitake Soup

Serves 4 / Rich, earthy flavors make this quick-cooking soup a welcome treat after a day outdoors. Prep tip: Make ahead and reheat, or prepare ingredients the night before and toss in a pot at the end of the day for a satisfying soup in 15 minutes. Serving tip: Serve with whole-grain cornbread and hot green tea.

Beef, Barley, and Sweet Potato Stew

Serves 8 / Ingredient tip: Instead of using refined pearl barley, add whole-grain goodness with hulled barley, which retains its germ and bran. Prep tips: This stew becomes thicker the next day; add broth or water when reheating. If you use a slow cooker, combine everything except peas and cook on low for 8-10 hours; stir in peas during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Moroccan-Spiced Lamb and Lentil Stew

Serves 6 / Ingredient tip: Leg of lamb is a leaner cut; if you prefer, use lamb stew meat or shoulder roast. Prep tip: If you have a slow cooker, simply combine all ingredients and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Serving tip: Pair with apricot couscous and hot mulled red wine.

Creamy Cauliflower-Split Pea Soup

Serves 6 / A chic blend of toasted hazelnuts and cauliflower yields a nutty, rich soup. Serving tip: Great with oven-warmed whole-grain rolls and mugs of hot cocoa.

Recipe developer Kris Wetherbee never met a root vegetable she didn't like, especially in a soup. She writes about food, travel, and the outdoors from her home in Oregon.