Alabama Recipes | Soups & Stews

Alabama Living Magazine

By Jennifer Kornegay | Styling/Photos by Brooke Echols

Soups and stews are comfort-food heroes, ready to rescue your menu and rid you of undue kitchen stress.

While the phrase “comfort food” usually conjures up something different for every different person, at least in general, casseroles have a strong claim to the throne when it comes to reigning over this category of cuisine. And yet another food group is equally soothing and definitely deserves consideration if you’re after a meal that will alleviate hunger and provide the simplicity, scrumptiousness and satisfaction that can bring on repose and relief: soups and stews.

Soups and stews are often incredibly easy to make; many recipes call for just throwing a list of ingredients in a pot. And that’s one single pot, meaning less clean-up. This equals less stress, and therefore, more comfort.  

Soups and stews are highly customizable. Hardly any ingredient (other than some liquid) is essential, so feel free to leave out what you don’t want. And there’s not a lot of cooking chemistry going on (not like baking), so you can also usually add veggies, seasonings or whatever else you wish. That means they’re also a great vehicle for using up leftover bits of peppers, onion, spinach, rotisserie chicken, cooked rice or noodles and more. That’s contentment, and in this case, it’s served very conveniently in a bowl.

And there’s a good reason chicken noodle soup is the No. 1 non-pharmaceutical “cure” for colds and other minor ailments: soups and stews are not just comforting, they’re cozy. They can actually warm you up from the inside out, and somehow, that physical sensation spreads to your soul, leading to a sense of wellbeing that we’re always craving, but especially when we’re sick.

Now, this full-body warming can make soups and stews a tricky dish to deal with in Alabama. Thanks to more warm months than cool and weird weather that can sometimes be hot even when it ought to be cold, you may think the good feelings promised by soups are only enjoyable part of the year. Not true. With a little planning, you can comfortably indulge in their comfort at any time, regardless of the temperature. If we get a winter where the mercury hits the 70s, just pull out your summer shorts before dinner. Got a hankering for minestrone in May? No problem. Just crank up that AC to compensate. 

Whenever you decide to relax with some soups and stews — and surely this month is on your list — dive into these reader-submitted recipes.

Cook of the Month

Robby Griffiths, Baldwin EMC

Necessity is the mother of invention, and one winter Saturday when Robby Griffiths noticed his tummy rumbling and turned to his pantry for help making a meal quickly, he ended up creating his Hominy Stew. “I had been staring at this can of hominy in my pantry for weeks, wondering what to do with it, and that day, my hunger figured it out,” he said. He also had some veggies that he needed to use up, so he just started chopping them and throwing them in a pot with the hominy, and it turned out great. It’s now a go-to soother in his house for multiple reasons. “It is savory with just the right amount zing from the various peppers, and then you’ve got sausage and cheese in there, and you can’t go wrong with those,” he said.

Hominy Stew

1 cup chicken stock

1 4-ounce can hatch green chilies

1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

1 15-ounce can hominy, drained

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup smoked sausage, cooked and diced

1 15-ounce can pinto beans, undrained 

1/2 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese

1 tablespoon pickled jalapeno 

peppers, diced

1 tablespoon pickled jalapeno pepper liquid

Optional: sour cream

Combine stock, green chilies, onion, tomatoes, hominy, chili powder and garlic powder. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, stirring gently. After 5 minutes, add sausage, pinto beans, cheese, jalapenos and jalapeno liquid. Continue simmering, stirring gently, until heated through. May garnish with additional shredded cheese, diced jalapenos and sour cream. 

Cathy’s Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup

1 pound ground chuck

4 medium bell peppers, diced

1 46-ounce can tomato juice

1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes

2 cups beef broth

2 teaspoons basil

1½ cups white rice, cooked

1 onion, diced

1 cup whipping cream

Salt and pepper, to taste

Garlic powder, to taste

1-2 teaspoons cornstarch and equal parts water (for thickening)

Cook meat, drain if needed. Add peppers, tomato juice, diced tomatoes, beef broth, basil, onion and spices. Bring to boil then simmer until peppers are tender, at least one hour. Mix small amount of cornstarch dissolved in small amount of water to creamy consistency and add to soup mixture. Add whipping cream and cooked rice. Cook, covered, on low heat for one hour. Serves 18-20.

Barb Walker, Coosa Valley EC

Chicken Stew

1 large hen

2 pounds onions

5 pounds potatoes

2-3 cups whole kernel corn

2-3 cups lima beans

1 gallon tomato juice

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon sugar, optional

Boil hen until tender, remove from broth and remove skin and bones. Break or cut chicken into small pieces. Return to boil and add diced onions. Boil slowly on medium heat for 30 minutes. Add diced potatoes and ½ gallon tomato juice. Salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer for one hour. Add lima beans, corn and remaining tomato juice. Simmer. Taste and if too acidic, add the sugar. After cooling, this freezes well in meal-sized portions.

Brenda Wilkinson, Covington EC

Creamy Zucchini Soup

6 cups zucchinis, thinly sliced

1 package dry onion soup mix

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup water

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 cup milk

1 cup half and half milk

Salt and pepper, to taste

Melt butter and add onion soup mix, water and zucchini. Simmer 30 minutes. Mash coarsely. Add remaining ingredients and heat to a simmer.

Hilda Fowler, Pioneer EC

Cheesy Chicken Noodle Soup

3 chicken breasts (bone-in, skin on)

2½ quarts water, salted

1 10.5-ounce can Campbell’s cream of chicken soup

14 ounces Velveeta cheese, cut into small chunks

1 5-ounce can Carnation evaporated milk

3 tablespoons butter

1 large sweet onion, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

8-ounces spaghetti noodles, uncooked

Cook chicken in salty water until very tender. Strain broth into a second large pot; reserve 1 cup for later. Break noodles into pieces and add to strained broth, cooking until almost tender. Meanwhile, remove skin and bones from chicken and shred. Sauté onion in butter until tender. Add in Velveeta cheese and 1 cup of reserved broth, stirring over medium heat until melted and combined. Add cheese mixture, condensed chicken soup, evaporated milk, and shredded chicken to cooked noodles with broth. Salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer until done. Additional broth or water can be added to make a thinner consistency.

Wanda H. Stinson, Pioneer EC

Beef Carrot and Potato Stew

3 ribeye steaks

2 onions chopped 

4 large carrots, peeled and chopped 

1 pound Yukon potatoes, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups Pinot Noir 

2 cups beef broth

1 cup water

1 12-ounce can tomato paste

1/4 cup flour 

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 

1/2 tablespoons dried thyme 

1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste 

Cut the ribeye steak into cubes. Pour the olive oil into a large soup pot set on medium-high heat. Salt and pepper the steak and add to the pot to brown. Stir in beef broth, balsamic vinegar, onions and garlic. Add the carrots and potatoes and cook until vegetables soften. Sprinkle in the flour and stir, then add the tomato paste, wine, water, sugar and thyme. Bring to a boil then cover with a lid on low heat for 1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes.  

Kirk Vantrease, Cullman EC

Pizza Soup

2 28-ounce cans pureed tomatoes

2 14.5-ounce cans chicken broth

20 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

1 cup heavy cream

¼ cup butter or margarine

½ cup onion, chopped

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1 pound cooked Italian sausage, sweet or spicy

1 13-ounce jar marinara sauce

Mix all ingredients and cook on very low heat 2 hours or in crock pot 6 hours, stirring often. Garnish with shredded mozzarella. Serve with garlic toast.

Teresa Pogioli, Baldwin EMC 

Marilyn’s Brunswick Stew

1-2 pounds chicken or turkey

1-2 pounds beef or venison

1-2 pounds pork roast

2-3 cans diced tomatoes

1 32-ounce bottle ketchup

¾ cup apple cider vinegar

½ cup Worcestershire sauce

1 pound onions, chopped

3 pounds potatoes, chopped in large pieces

1½ cups sugar

½ cup lemon juice

1 pint white or green peas, cooked

1 pint green butter beans, cooked

1 quart creamed corn (2-3 cans)

1 tablespoon tabasco sauce

1 tablespoon each: salt, pepper and garlic (or to taste)

Cook meats in water to cover until it falls away from bones. Remove the bones and skin, strain the broth. Shred meats and add it to the broth with the vegetables and seasonings. Cook for 2 hours over low to medium heat. Cook’s note: I chop onions and potatoes in large pieces and microwave for 1 minute prior to adding to stew.

Merilyn W. Griffin, Southern Pine EC

Cook of the Month

Themes and Deadlines

April: Pimento Cheese | January 10

May: Avocados | February 7

June: Potluck | March 13

Please send us your original recipes (developed or adopted by you or family members.) Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year.

3 ways to submit:



Mail: Recipes, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124


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