Food to have on hand for holiday meals, from fancy to impromptu!

You may not be surprised to learn that when I’m thinking about food to have on hand for the holidays, I’m thinking soup!

This is the time when you’re entertaining both formally and (more often than not) informally. Your kids are home from college, and their friends drop by. Your favorite Aunt just arrived hungry from Cincinnati. The family is suddenly hungry, and a quick, comforting impromptu meal is in order. Soup!

Even when you’re having neighbors over for a holiday meal, instead of always thinking you’ve got to make a big deal, soup and salad with brownies for dessert can be a friendly, even fabulous menu! If you’re doing a buffet or potluck, blended soups in 5-ounce shot glasses can make a very pretty, tasty and unexpectedly warm treat for your table.

It’s such a busy time of year—who needs to make things more complicated?

Here are some of my easy, pretty star-quality favorites for the holidays, from my popular Clean Soups.  Make a big pot, serve warm and freeze some to have on hand for those impromptu gatherings.

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Roasting cauliflower brings out the vegetables natural sweetness and creates a beautiful golden brown color that delights the eyes as much as the taste buds. Add Thai coconut and the taste is simply divine!

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Saffron is one of my favorite spices to cook with. Yes, it can be a bit costly, but you really need very little saffron to get a huge bang for your buck. Here it gives a luscious, exotic taste to the carrots, which are naturally sweet. Saffron is also a visual delight; in this soup, the saffron looks like monks’ robes tossed against a vibrant orange background. Consider this dish a treat for all your senses.

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Kabocha isn’t as sweet as butternut squash, but it has a lovely, nutty taste. It also smells like heaven when it’s roasting. Paired with parsnips, it makes this soup a fiber powerhouse, proving again that fiber-rich foods are far from tasteless. Butternut squash will work if Kabocha isn’t available in the market.

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I came up with this soup by polling my friends and neighbors to see what they had sitting in their fridges. The whole point is that veggies no longer in their prime are still perfect for a hearty vegetable soup. Here the culinary color wheel came up with orange (carrots and sweet potato), tan (parsnip), and green (kale, although you could use chard or spinach). Throw in a can of tomatoes and a tablespoon of tomato paste from the pantry, along with some quinoa and spices, and you have a scrumptious soup!

WHAT COULD BE BETTER FOR LIGHT, IMPROMPTU HOLIDAY MEALS FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS THAN HOMEMADE SOUP? YOU CAN ACCESSORIZE THEM WITH BREAD, SALADS, OR ANYTHING YOU HAVE ON HAND (SUCH AS COOKIES). WELCOMING, COMFORTING, AND NOURISHING, TO BOOT!