I never understood why people ate soup. What’s the point of filling up on a non-alcoholic liquid before a meal?

Then, in grad school, when I went vegetarian after reading Diet for a New Planet, and it dawned on me I had to learn to cook, I made my first soup. (Curried pea, a recipe my classmate Prashant gave me — admittedly an odd choice for my first, but it was simple and delicious). Now I got it.

These days, I make soup at least once a week. Sometimes, if it’s light enough, I eat a bowl before the main course, but mostly I’m drawn to soups substantial enough to be the main course. Add a salad, a side of kale chips (note: I’m kinda famous for these), a piece (or two) of crusty bread, and you’ve got a vitamin-packed dinner. And the next day’s lunch.

This Bon Appetit primer on how to make dairy-free, creamy soups is short, sweet, and spot-on.

Now let’s get this started… 

Ottolenghi’s Curried Lentil, Tomato, and Coconut Soup is delicious, and surprisingly simple. Unlike many of the celebrity chef’s recipes, you don’t need a professionally-trained sous chef to help slice and dice, and when you’re finished cooking, you want to thank, not curse him. (Tip: Canned lentils work just as well in this as dry red lentils, as does light coconut milk).

This Smokey Black Bean Sweet Potato Soup is full of goodness, and hearty enough for a meal (see above, kale chips and bread).

Nothing says warm, fuzzy comfort like a bowl of Tomato Soup. I call this one When Harry Met Sally Soup, because it’s like wrapping yourself in blanket a snowy Sunday afternoon, and settling in to watch your favorite Rom-Com for the umpteenth time. After the first spoonful, the look on your face will have everyone at the table shouting, “I’ll have what she’s having!

Quinoa Vegetable Soup. Few foods can top this one in nutrition; it’s loaded with B vitamins, vitamin K, fiber, and protein-rich grain. Eat this everyday and you’ll be running marathons well into your 90s.

This simple Mulligatawny Soup is a great way to use that extra carrot or potato lying around. I use quinoa instead of rice (more protein, and you can cook it in the soup, rather than before). Canned tomatoes work just fine, if you don’t have a fresh one.

Falling for Pho. Shiitake mushrooms, cinnamon, cloves, and star anise do the heavy-lifting in this heavenly bowl of Vietnamese-inspired soup. (Don’t know what star anise is? Neither did I until I made this. Look for it in the spice section of your supermarket. It looks like a tiny, brown starfish, and tastes something like allspice and cloves. But different).

Now, two words about Immersion Blenders. Buy one. The gadget allows you to cook and liquify ingredients in the same pot. No messy clean-up. An immersion blender makes you want to make soup. Here’s a buying guide.

Everyone loves this Carrot Soup, even kids. And my not-crazy-about-carrots husband.

I saved the best for last: Pesto Soup with Gnocchi, Beans & Greens. Isa Moskowitz is a genius at combining foods I’d never think of putting in the same pot. The ingredients are deceptively simple, the result deliciously complex.

Now, go off and cook great soups. And tell us about it in the Comments section.

Happy Eating,