{If you miss the heat, get into the kitchen}

Cold is not our thing in Alabama. When the blazing August sun recedes and football season kicks off, we look toward other sources to supply that trademark southern warmth, and the kitchen is the best place to keep it glowing during the dead of winter.  By October, tomatoes and the ease of summer cooking have vanished. It’s no longer “too hot to cook”, the sun is setting early in the evening, and there’s no excuse to stay out of the kitchen. Fall is your time to dust off the stove, get back into cooking and warm up spirits with hearty soups and stews.

The history of soups and stews runs deep in Alabama, from the legendary North Alabama chicken stew to the seafood gumbos made famous by our coastal communities. This fall, we’ll share a series of recipes inspired by some of that history and a few of Alabama’s iconic food spots.  So pull out your favorite soup pot, bid summer a fond farewell and greet the cold by stirring up a few of these soul warming soup recipes.

{From first course to main course}

A soup course is usually served at the beginning of a meal, meant to whet the appetite, and set the tone for the courses that follow. But in the Alabama kitchen, soups have traditionally been intended as a meal, often served to a crowd from a humble crockpot.  The Soup Season Series is in keeping with that tradition, and these recipes are hearty enough to stand on their own. If you’re looking for fifteen minute “tik tok” recipes, these are not the recipes for you, although we’ll provide some instruction to simplify the recipes if you’re short on energy or time. The full recipes require a little effort, and we hope you’ll slow down, focus on the ingredients, and create a memorable dish you can savor, make your own, and serve over and over during the colder days of fall and winter.  Keep in mind that cooking magic happens at the intersection of solid technique and heartfelt improvisation. You can do this, no matter your level of cooking mastery. Soup is a fun place to practice technique for the novice cook and also provides an opportunity for the experienced cook to shine.

{Three Recipes, One State}

The inspiration for our Soup Season Series recipes begins in a legendary North Alabama barbecue spot, passes through a celebrated Birmingham bistro, and ends in a family business nestled in the pine thickets of Conecuh County. Each recipe includes a unique garnish and make ahead instructions to help the busy cook on those hectic holidays and football Saturdays. Two of the recipes are perfect for casual fall gatherings or tailgate spreads, and we’ve also included a more elevated recipe that’s perfect for a refined holiday table. We hope you’ll take these recipes to heart, and they become a part of your family’s cold weather cooking tradition. We’ll drop the series of recipes over the next few weeks, so get excited about soup season, check in often for each recipe, and be sure to tag us in your soup adventures on social media #soulgrownsoupszn.

Christy Williams is a food writer, mother of boys + southern lawyer from Wren, Alabama. Find her on Instagram at @grilfromwren for more celebrations of the people and places (and biscuits) she loves.