It’s winter and it’s cold. It’s also January, so that means we can celebrate National Soup Month! There’s no better time and no better way to warm up from the inside out than with a delicious bowl of soup.

The fact that there are more recipes for soup then there are paint swatches at the hardware store means one should never tire of soup. A pot of soup can come together quickly, often tastes even better the second day and many recipes can be successfully frozen to enjoy at a later time.

My favorite soup is anything thick and creamy. When making a creamy soup, there are several alternatives to reach that creamy status. Thanks to thekitchn.com for sharing several of those alternatives:

• Adding cream is the most obvious way to get a creamy soup. It gives a silky mouthfeel and rich flavor. Milk and other dairy products also work, but the taste will get less creamy as you go down in fat percent.

• Puree a cup or two of the soup with a stick blender or in a food processor and add it back to the original soup. It will add body but still keep the chunky goodness.

• Add a few slices of stale bread to the soup. First, tear the bread into pieces and let them soak in a cup or two of the hot soup before pureeing and stirring back into the main pot.

• Plain yogurt works a lot like cream, but with a lighter result when added to certain soups. It also adds a tangy flavor.

• Ground nuts were actually one of the first thickeners used in soups and sauces, historically. Grind a handful of nuts until they have completely crumbled and are just verging on becoming a paste. In a small bowl, whisk the nuts together with some of the soup broth and then whisk it into the main soup. Cashews are especially tasty.

• Make a beurre manie. Don’t let the fancy words scare you. Simply knead equal parts butter and flour into a thick paste, and then whisk it into the soup until completely dissolved. Adding beurre manie is like making a reverse-roux. It will thicken soup in a similar way.

• Add flour, cornstarch or other starches. Starches thicken soup and give it body. Whisk a few tablespoons of starch into a little of the broth in a separate bowl before whisking it all into the main pot. This prevents the starch from clumping and helps it dissolve into the soup evenly.

• Coconut milk is another thickening option. A quarter cup will add creaminess without drastically changing the flavor. Just add a bit more to get a subtle coconut flavor.

Happy National Soup Month! If you have a favorite soup recipe, please share it with me. We have a lot of winter left, and I would love to share another round of favorite soup recipes.

Janelle Thomas can be reached at janellethomas@charter.net.