When it comes to charting the weekly eats for my family, there are two sorts of dinner recipes that make every meal plan: soups and salads. They stand alone in their simplicity, and they always satisfy. While soups warm from the inside out, salads serve as a blank canvas for clever flavor combinations. Both stretch leftovers and pantry staples into nourishing reasons to come to the table.
"They stand alone in their simplicity, and they always satisfy."
Here's a list of my favorite soup and salad recipes, and the thoughts behind why I make them when I do.
Hearty Soups This savory, satisfying Italian sausage soup recipe is my go-to answer to grumbling tummies and "I'm staaarving!" cries from my husband and kids. The rich aroma of sautéed garlic and browned sausage brings them straight to the table, and the great northern beans ensure they leave with their bellies full. A complete rainbow of colorful veggies makes the soup extra delectable, and the finishing sprinkle of Parmesan cheese makes for a fun final step. With a hunk of crusty bread, this is the ultimate comfort food.
Surprising Salads Many days of the week, my family seems to multiply. Between play dates, practices and study groups, I frequently find myself hosting the moms and dads who come with their kids. It is my pleasure to add an extra leaf to the table — especially when I've got the fixings for a quick salad lined up.
For a small group of on-the-go moms in particular, I reach for a can of garbanzo beans to toss together a couple plates of this easy salad recipe. It's crunchy and crispy with an unexpected twist. Warm, creamy beans are the perfect taste and textural surprise when added to an otherwise traditional Caesar salad. The option of salty little anchovy fillets allows guests to tailor their plates.
Warm Comfort Foods Some days call for consolation, making warmth — in every sense of the word — the order of the day. Whether one of us survived a rough test, a brutal soccer game or a broken heart, having all of us together with some grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup is the only thing that can make it better. In fact, the best way for me to learn all the details of the day is to serve grilled pepper-jack cheese sandwiches on thinly sliced Italian bread and this just-spicy-enough tomato soup recipe. The pairing is made in just about 10 minutes, and it requires all of us to be still to enjoy it. With every bite of sandwich, and every sip of soup, we settle in and tune out the craziness of the rest of the day.
Easy Recipes In our house, Monday and Friday nights very often include salad. At the end of long days and long weeks, I need a dinner recipe that comes together in minutes. This unique tuna salad recipe fits the bill when I don't have the time (or patience) to put on my apron. Six ingredients, requiring minimal prep, arrange into a mouthwatering meal. Try substituting leftover chicken or beef for the tuna, or add green beans, asparagus, shredded cheese or bacon. Finally, offer everybody's favorite vinaigrettes to top off the individual salads according to personal tastes.
From breakfasts to snacks to desserts, all meals have their place in the family plan. I count on them to nourish, satisfy and bring my family together. More times than not, however, I count on soups and salads specifically to serve as my superhero. In one fell swoop, they save me over and over again.
*Tip: Creating delicious, wholesome meals for your family doesn't have to be a chore! We have an entire collection of articles with easy recipes and helpful advice.