Hearty Soups and Sandwiches for a Winter Day

Hearty Soups and Sandwiches for a Winter Day

Dennis Weaver Dennis Weaver Mar 15, 2024

I've never spent a winter in New England. But I spent ten winters in Minnesota and 25 in interior Alaska, so I know something about winters.  

I know that when you're in the snow, gathering firewood, or helping your neighbor in his woodshed, you're going to come home hungry, not just hungry but something warm and hearty.

Store breads, generally, aren't satisfying enough. Homemade bread and homemade soup is where it's at.

When we lived in Alaska, our kids were little and Merri Ann still found time to make homemade bread, not only made bread but ground the wheat--whole wheat flour. And she often made chili and maybe bean soup.  She made meals made for cold weather.

Last week, the middle of March, we officially had eleven inches of snow (in Idaho). Down the valley, they had eighteen. That's soup and sandwich weather.

This Soup and Sandwich Bread is perfect. Here, you'll find a couple of her hearty soup recipes.  And I put together a primer for cream soups.


Merri Ann's Hearty Soups

chicken and wild rice soup

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

This is an outstanding soup, so good that you’ll want to serve it often to your family and fancy enough to serve to guests. It’s easy to make.

You can use either chicken or ham for this recipe. Both are good.


  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 4 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped or the equivalent in dry mushrooms
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 14.5 ounce cans of chicken broth
  • 2 cups cooked ham or chicken, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme (if you use chicken)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste (salt will vary depending on broth used)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • water



  1. Wash the wild rice, place it in a saucepan, cover it with water and simmer it on very low heat until the rice is tender but not mushy, about 45 minutes.
  2. Sauté the chopped onion, mushrooms, and carrot in the butter. Sprinkle the cornstarch over the butter and onion mixture and stir to make a paste.
  3. Add a little of the broth and stir to further dissolve the cornstarch. Add the rest of the broth and heat to a boil to gelatinize the starch and thicken the soup.
  4. Add the wild rice and ham or chicken. Add the sugar, salt, and thyme if any.
  5. Add the cream. Bring back to simmer but do not boil. Test for seasoning and serve.


black bean soup

Southwestern Black Bean and Ham Soup

No two pots should ever turn out exactly the same. This is one of those dishes where you add a little and add a little more until it is just right. But it’s not difficult. Start with a ham hock. Open up a few cans of beans until you get a balance with the ham and then spice it up until it’s just right for you. Serve it with tortilla chips, grated cheddar cheese, and sour cream.

This recipe works perfectly in a crockpot though you can also make it on the stovetop. It’s easy with canned beans but you can also use dried beans. Scale the recipe up or down to suit your needs.


1 large meaty ham hock
1 large onion, diced
1 cup water
2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 4-ounce can peeled, chopped, mild green chilies
4 15-ounce cans of black beans, drained
fresh cilantro
salt to taste


1. Place the ham hock, onion, and water in the crockpot. Cook on high for an hour or until the meat loosens from the hock.
2. Add the tomatoes, cumin, and chilies and continue cooking. Remove the bones if desired. Before serving add the beans, cilantro, and salt and heat until hot.

Swiss on Corn Beef Whole Grain Sandwich

corned beef sandwich

The sandwich on the left is a corned beef and and Swiss cheese sandwich.  That's caramelized onion on top of the corned beef.  Use any hearty bread.

To caramelize an onion, simply fry onion slices in butter. Caramelized onion makes a nice addition to many sandwiches.

I have no idea what the sandwich on the right is, except that it's grilled.


More Hearty Breads for Hearty Sandwiches


Prairie Sunflower Bread

Lumberjack Bread (Shown above)

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Sunflower Whole Wheat Bread

Red River Valley Settlers Bread

Big Sky Cracked Wheat



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