Don’t let the recent spring-like weather fool you; more winter weather is on the horizon. That means this is a good time to simmer a batch of soup.

Stock your pantry with soup essentials like chicken and vegetable broth. This area of the grocery store has expanded considerably over recent years and now there are broths such as miso and ginger chicken, as well as numerous organic broths and unsalted or low-sodium options.

I usually buy unsalted versions so I can control the sodium content and flavor. Another great item to have on hand is canned tomatoes. You can get some excellent canned tomatoes now like varieties from San Marzano that add rich flavor. Also growing in popularity is bone broth, which is touted to be more nutritious and flavorful than regular chicken or beef broth.

If you want to put a hearty, nutritious soup together fast, consider making black bean soup. You can add a couple of cans of black beans to a food processor then heat them up with chicken or vegetable stock, whichever you prefer, and season to your liking with fresh lime juice, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper and dinner is ready. If you want to kick it up a notch, add green chilis.

I recently made a fantastic soup with beef stock, pigeon peas, potatoes, carrots, celery and red kidney beans. The longer I let it simmer with bay leaves and other seasonings, the more flavorful it became. This was a big hit on a cold evening with a loaf of crusty homemade bread.

My younger son seems to bring home a cold from school every other week so on those occasions I whip up a chicken soup.

The one I make most frequently is a chicken soup with orzo pasta, vegetables and lots of lemon. To add variety, I grab whatever vegetables I have on hand. Most recently I added cauliflower, chopped kale and broccoli. It seemed to do the trick in the fight against the cold because the sniffles and coughing subsided.

Black Bean Soup

3 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed

32-ounce container unsalted chicken stock (or vegetable)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 green pepper, seeded and chopped

4 ounces green chilis (optional)

2 teaspoons cumin

1 1/2 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon chili powder (optional)

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 cup water

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish if desired

Add black beans to a food processor and pulse several times until somewhat smooth, then transfer to a bowl and set aside. Add olive oil to a stockpot and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is warmed, add garlic, onion and green pepper and sauté until the vegetables have softened and the onion is translucent. Transfer to the food processor and process until smooth, then return to the stockpot. Add the chicken or vegetable stock, the black beans and remaining ingredients and set over medium-high heat. Stir to combine and simmer for 15 minutes. Garnish with cilantro before serving.

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

32-ounce container unsalted chicken stock

3 cups rotisserie chicken, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 1/2 cups kale, chopped

1 cup carrot, diced

1 cup orzo pasta

2 cups broccoli florets

2 cups cauliflower florets

1 lemon, juiced

1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish if desired

1 tablespoon fresh grated Parmesan cheese, for serving, if desired

Add the olive oil to a stockpot and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is warmed, add the garlic, onion and carrot and sauté until the carrot is tender and the onions are translucent. Add the chicken, chicken stock, lemon juice, salt, pepper and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and boil for an additional 5 minutes before lowering the heat to medium. Simmer for about ten minutes then add the broccoli, cauliflower and kale. Simmer for several minutes or until the broccoli and cauliflower have softened. Add additional salt and pepper to adjust the flavor before serving. Garnish with fresh parsley and grated Parmesan cheese before serving, if desired.

Hearty Bean and Vegetable Soup

2 (28-ounce) cans chopped tomatoes

15 ounces dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

15 ounces white beans, drained and rinsed

15 ounces pigeon peas, drained and rinsed

3 cups red potatoes, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 ribs celery, chopped

1 large sweet onion, chopped

32-ounce container unsalted beef stock

2 cups carrot, peeled and diced

2 teaspoons Kosher Salt

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon white pepper

2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish, if desired

Add the olive oil to a stockpot and set over medium high heat. When the oil is warmed, add the onion, carrot and celery. Saute for several minutes or until the vegetables have softened and the onion is translucent. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the parsley if using for garnish) and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes have softened. Adjust the seasoning amounts to suit your taste. Garnish with parsley before serving, if desired.