A spread of soups or pastas is an easy entertaining option on a cold winter night. Offer your guests two or more entrees to provide something delicious for everyone, including an option for the vegans in your group.

For more recipes and entertaining ideas for your gathering, see this series of posts on hosting a soup buffet.


Meat Sauce

Fresh tomatoes form the base of this rich and flavorful homemade meat sauce.

WHAT YOU NEED to make 10 cups

  • 15 lbs tomatoes, skinned and diced
  • 1½ lbs ground beef or sausage
  • 2½ cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • ½ cup red bell peppers
  • ½ lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lb of your favorite pasta

SAUTE the meat until brown. Drain the ground beef to eliminate some of the fat. Set aside the meat. In a saucepan with a trace amount of olive oil, add garlic, onion, red pepper, and mushrooms. Cook until vegetables are tender.

COMBINE with tomato pulp in large saucepot. Add meat and spices and cook to a boil. Simmer, uncovered until the initial volume has been reduced by half. Stir frequently.

PREPARE pasta according to package directions. Serve with hot meat sauce.


Editor’s tip: For tasty results that do your meals proud, choose the ideal pasta shape to complement your sauce.

Long & Skinny pasta, such as spaghetti, linguine, fusilli lunghi, vermicelli, are served with light seafood sauces, and cream or oil-based sauces.

Long Ribbons like tagliatelle, pappardelle, and fettuccine are suitable for rich, meaty sauces.

Tubes, such as penne, rigatoni, macaroni, paccheri, are great with hearty vegetable sauces, baked cheese dishes, bolognese or ragu.

Twists like fusilli work well with light, smoother sauces which will cling to the twists, such as pesto.

Shells like conchiglie or lumache are good in heavy cream or meat sauces.

Mini shapes such as orzo and canestrini are best in soups and stews or as pasta salads.

Filled pasta like ravioli, tortellini, cappelletti are traditionally served with a light butter or oil sauce or as an addition to light soup broths.


Southwest chicken soup

Turn our Southwest chicken soup into a vegetarian option by omitting the cooked chicken and substituting a vegetable broth for the chicken broth.


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • 2 cups diced cooked chicken
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup kernel corn
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp chopped chives
  • 48 oz chicken broth

SAUTE onion, garlic, celery, and chicken in olive oil until onions are soft. Add to stockpot with carrots, beans, corn, and broth. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and the chives. Bring to a boil and simmer about 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

STIR in tomato and heat through.

Offer tortilla strips or chips, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro, pico de gallo, diced avocado, and sour cream on the side to immediately turn this recipe into chicken tortilla soup.



Goulash traces back to the cook pots of 9th-century Hungarian shepherds so you know it makes a heartwarming meal.

WHAT YOU NEED to make 8 servings

  • 2 to 3 lbs ground beef
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 6 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 cup chopped peppers—serrano, any bell pepper
  • 3 cups tomato sauce or 2-3 qts whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1½ tsp chipotle seasoning
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste
  • 2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni

Editor’s note: Authentic Hungarian goulash is spiced with paprika so feel free to substitute it for the chipotle seasoning.

BROWN the ground beef with onions and peppers, then add minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Be sure to drain well.

COMBINE ground beef, veggies, tomatoes and dry ingredients into a 4-quart pot or Dutch oven. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.

TO SERVE: Place goulash in a stainless steel saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer and add spices if you prefer a zestier sauce. Add a bit of brown sugar if you like added sweetness.

WHILE sauce is simmering, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add elbow macaroni (2 ounces of dry pasta per serving). Cook according to package directions. Drain completely in a colander.

Tubular pastas such as elbow macaroni should be drained well or the excess water will keep the sauce from adhering to the pasta and may also dilute the flavor of your sauce.

ADD the pasta to the sauce immediately and mix thoroughly.

START the meal with a spinach salad or a traditional cabbage salad and serve the goulash with fresh loaves of crusty bread.


Charro Beans

Charro Beans is basically a Mexican style soup, consisting of pinto beans submerged in a broth full of amazing flavors created from the combination of meats and vegetables.

WHAT YOU NEED to make 10 servings

  • ½ pound bacon
  • ½ pound diced ham
  • ½ pound cooked chorizo, crumbled
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 3 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 cans Ranch Style beans
  • 1 container fresh pico de gallo

FRY bacon strips in a large pan until crisp and remove. Drain on paper towels and crumble when cooled.

ADD onion and garlic to drippings and fry until browned. Stir in ham and chorizo. When heated through, pour in water and add bouillon cubes stirring until dissolved.

STIR in the beans and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the pico de gallo and crumbled bacon and heat for another 10 minutes.

SERVE with additional pico, lime, green onions, shredded cheese, and sour cream.


© Caruth Studio

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