There is absolutely nothing like a creamy soup or hearty stew to warm the insides and drive away the cold.

Creamy Tomato Soup(above)

Nothing makes for a better start to a wholesome meal, like cream of fresh tomato soup. Gentle and soothing, warm cup of goodness is even more delicious and healthy. Follow this easy, vegetarian recipe for fresh cream tomato soup!
Serves 8

INGREDIENTS
• ¼ cup unsalted butter
• 10 sprigs thyme, tied together
• 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
• 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
• ¼ cup tomato paste
• 2 28-oz. cans whole tomatoes
• 1–2 teaspoons sugar, divided
• ¼ cup (or more) heavy cream
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black
pepper

INSTRUCTIONS
• Melt butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat.
• Add thyme, onion, and garlic. Cook until onion is completely soft and translucent, 10–12 minutes.
• Increase heat to medium-high; add tomato paste. Continue cooking, stirring often, until paste has begun to caramelize in spots, 5–6 minutes.
• Add tomatoes with juices, 1 tsp. sugar, and 8 cups water to pot.
• Increase heat to high; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium.
• Simmer until flavors meld and soup reduces to about (8 cups), 45–55 minutes.
• Remove soup from heat; let cool slightly.
• Discard thyme sprigs. Working in small batches, purée soup in a blender until smooth. Return to pot.
• Stir in ¼ cup cream. Simmer soup until flavors meld, 10–15 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and remaining 1 tsp. sugar.

Recipe: www.bonappetit.com

Perfect the art of the beef stew

HOW TO CHOSE THE RIGHT CUT
Different cuts yield different flavours and require different cooking methods, so choosing the right one is really important. When selecting cuts for stew always choose larger cuts of meat from the front shoulder ideally, for example: chuck.
THE SEAR
Never start your stew with raw meat. Ensure that you have seared the stew cuts. Colour means flavour, and searing your meat until its golden brown will mean the difference between a bland stew and a flavour-rich one. Always cook the meat in batches, this gives each piece enough room to sear properly.
A FEW EXTRA POINTERS
Add your veggies in batches, starting with the ones that require the longest cook time.
It is possible to overcook a beef stew, while cooking times vary according to the amount of stew you’re making, you generally can’t go wrong with a 2-3 hour long cook.
The best side for a hearty stew is crusty, fresh bread but a close second would be garlic-infused mashed potatoes.

Red wine and garlic braised oxtail

When it’s cold outside turn the kitchen into the warm heart of your home. As you approach the front door with frosty rosy cheeks and a lack of feeling in your toes, the joy and warmth of a homemade stew wafting around your home is second to none.
Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS
• 1.5 kg oxtail
• 2 large onions, chopped
• 1 carrots,roughly chopped
• 1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
• 4 cloves garlic, crushed
• 1 bay leaf
• 4 sprigs thyme
• 1 x 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
• 2 Tbsp sugar for the egg whites
• 500 ml red wine
• 500 ml beef stock
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS
• In a large pot, brown the beef in a splash of oil. Remove from the pot and set aside.
• Fry the onions, carrots and celery until soft and fragrant then add the garlic, bay leaf and fresh thyme.
• Add the tomatoes and sugar and allow to simmer for 5 minutes before adding back the oxtail.
• Pour in the red wine and beef stock then season.
• Cover the pot and reduce the heat then allow to simmer for 3-4 hours or until the oxtail is meltingly tender, checking on it every 30 minutes or so to ensure the stew hasn’t dried out.
• Add more stock if necessary.
• Serve the oxtail with rice/mash/polenta