Cozy Recipes To See You To Spring

by | Jan 2024

Close up of leek and potato soup in ceramic bowls

iStock/Panagiotis Kyriakos

The season of comfort food is just beginning.

As the holidays come to a close and the snow piles higher, it’s time to return to the cozy recipes that warm our hearts and stomachs through long winter months. Often these recipes come with stories—some passed down to us and others created at the table.

Our editors from across the Metro joined together to share some favorite recipes that have become a staple in their kitchens. From our homes to yours, let’s raise a collective cheer for the months of cozy cuisine to come!

Potato Leek Soup

This is my best friend Jen’s family recipe. She taught it to me on a cold winter’s afternoon when we were in our senior year of high school. We were preparing for college and thought it would be a good idea to learn several key recipes by heart. Twenty years later, this recipe is a staple in my home. It’s my daughter’s favorite. We hope it brings you joy, comfort and warmth for many years to come. —Feroza Mehta, editor of Edina Magazine

  • 4 1/2 cups potatoes, diced into
  • 2/5- inch cubes
  • 4 large leek stalks (about 5 cups), sliced thinly. Use only the white and light green parts of the stalk.
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup milk or 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 Tbsp. flour, divided
  • 3/4 tsp. black pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg, optional
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika, optional

On low heat, melt butter in a stock pot. Once melted, add in leeks. Stir with a whisk, and cook until the white leeks turn translucent. Add potatoes. With a whisk, stir in 3 Tbsp. flour. Pour in chicken stock in increments while whisking constantly. This helps to make sure the flour and butter do not stick to the bottom of the pot. Once all the chicken stock has been incorporated, add salt, pepper, paprika and nutmeg, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 25–30 minutes until potatoes become tender. Add in milk. Whisk in remaining flour. Heat until bubbling. Remove from the stove. Puree with an immersion blender if desired. If the soup is too thick, add more chicken stock until desired consistency is reached.

Slow Cooker Venison Roast

This Midwestern take on a French classic is my favorite way to enjoy the season’s spoils. At our house, it can only be served atop a heap of mashed potatoes, so we forgo potatoes in the roast and substitute with savory cremini mushrooms. If you don’t have venison in your freezer, this recipe is just as delicious with beef! —Zoe Yates, editor of White Bear Lake Magazine

  • 3 lbs. venison roast (shoulder and leg are best; bone-in preferred)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2–3 cups dry red wine
  • 2–3 cups beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ tsp. dried rosemary
  • 5 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 4–6 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into cubes, optional
  • fresh chopped parsley, for serving, optional

Prepare roast by drying thoroughly to remove liquid or blood. Sprinkle roast with 1/2 tsp. salt and some pepper, and sear with oil in a large skillet over medium/high heat, making sure to brown each side. Place roast in the bottom of a slow cooker; pour in stock, followed by the wine, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, thyme, rosemary, half of the garlic and remaining salt. Rub the mixture over the meat; add onion, remaining garlic, bay leaf, carrots, cremini mushrooms and potatoes (if using). Add more beef broth or wine if needed to cover the roast. Set a 6- to 7-quart slow cooker on low, and leave for 8–9 hours. When ready to serve, remove roast, and pull meat apart, then portion into bowls or place on a platter along with the soaked vegetables and some of the remaining juice. Serve alone in all its glory or (even better) on top of your favorite mashed potato recipe with some crusty bread.

Smoky Pulled Brisket Biscuit Sandwiches

In my kitchen, anything between two biscuits is the definition of comfort. This recipe allows for tweaking, depending on your taste preferences. (I omit the cilantro and add more chipotles and onion. Pepperoncinis are my favorite sammy toppers.) While the flavor of these sandwiches is on point, your kitchen will also smell glorious as the meat slowly cooks to tender perfection. —Renee Stewart-Hester, editor of Lake Minnetonka Magazine

  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 Tbsp. chipotles in adobo, finely chopped (I am generous with this measurement.)
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup, plus 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced (My eaters love onions, so I add another 1/2 onion.)
  • 2 1/2 lbs. lean beef brisket, trimmed
  • kosher salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 cucumber, seedless
  • 1 tsp. honey (I’ve used monk fruit sweetener, and it works great.)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, optional
  • 2 cups pepperoncini, sliced and optional (You can also add the juice from the jar to the meat to ramp up the heat.)
  • 8 biscuits, store bought or homemade

In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, whisk together tomato sauce, molasses, chipotles, chili powder, cumin and 1/4 cup vinegar. Add garlic and onion; toss to combine. Season the brisket with 1/2 tsp. pepper. Slice crosswise into 2 1/2-inch pieces. Add to the slow cooker; turn to coat. Cook covered until the meat is tender and easily pulls apart (7–8 hours on low or 5–6 on high). At least 30 minutes before serving, cut cucumbers into half moons. In a bowl, whisk together honey, pinch of salt and 2 Tbsp. vinegar. Add the cucumbers; toss. (Add cilantro to cucumbers if using.) Using two forks, shred the meat, and return the meat to the onions and sauce in the slow cooker to warm. When ready to serve, spoon meat mixture between biscuits, topping the meat with cucumbers. If you want more heat, top the meat with pepperoncini.

Vegan Wild Rice Soup

This recipe is based on Paulette Mitchell’s Wild Rice-Cranberry Soup from A Beautiful Bowl of Soup, Mitchell’s outstanding book of vegetarian soups. I’ve had this recipe in regular rotation each winter for over 10 years, so when I gave up dairy a few years back, I adapted the recipe to skip the butter and half-and-half and tweaked it slightly to appeal to my kiddos. – Liz Potasek, editor, Cities South Collection: Apple Valley, Eagan, Lakeville and Prior Lake

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups cooked wild rice (I’ve added up to 2 1/2-3 cups to make this soup more stew-like.)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1-13.5 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
  • salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add carrot, celery, onion and bay leaf; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrot is tender and onion is translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Gradually add the vegetable stock, whisking to prevent lumps. Increase the heat slightly, and stir until the broth has thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and cranberries. Reduce the heat. Cover and simmer the soup, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries are plump, about 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Add the coconut milk, stirring until the soup is warmed through. Season with salt and pepper.

Set the Table

What says “cozy kitchen” more than an eclectic mix of handmade bowls? It’s no secret that White Bear Lake is home to some amazing artists and curators, who make it all too easy to fall in love with the taste of these cozy meals and the experience of enjoying them.

Select from an assortment of one-of-the-kind pottery at White Bear Center for the Arts’ (WBCA) Ann Tousley Luther Art Shop. While items and featured artists may vary, membership and development coordinator Lexi Munson says WBCA instructors Alex Chinn, Adam Gruetzmacher, Rob Lieder and Adama Sow often have bowls and dishware available. “[Sow] has ‘soup bowls’ that are my family’s go-to during the winter,” Munson says. 4971 Long Ave.; 651.407.0597;

At Haus Theory, unique pottery and vintage dishware line shelves curated by owners Amanda and Dan Evans. All items have lived a past life in homes across the country, with many picked from local estate sales. Explore the intimate shop any odd day, and you’ll no doubt find an exciting new item to add to your kitchen. 2182 Third St.; 651.429.0963;


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