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  • Writer's pictureFrancesca De Franco

6 Family Winter Warmers: Hearty Recipes for Cosy Winter Cooking

Winter cooking

Winter Cooking

I love winter cooking. I find it so much easier to come up with family meal ideas in the colder months as we're big fans of more substantial meals and love our stews, one-pots and casseroles.

Here are six of our favourite winter warmers:

Chicken and Chorizo Jambalaya

Winter cooking

This Cajun-inspired chicken and chorizo jambalaya has become a firm family favourite. A beautifully simple one-pot, it's filling, packed with flavour and a perfect winter warmer.

Ingredients (Serves 5)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 3 chicken breasts, chopped

  • 1 large onion, diced

  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced

  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed

  • 200g of cooking chorizo, sliced

  • 1.5 tbsp of Cajun seasoning

  • 320g long grain rice

  • 400g can plum tomato

  • 500 ml chicken stock


  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet with a lid and add the chopped chicken breasts. Fry until they're lightly browned (approximately 5-8 minutes)

  2. Remove the chicken and set aside. Add a little more oil if required and gently fry the onion until soft and translucent (approximately 3-4 minutes)

  3. Add the red pepper, garlic and chorizo alongside the Cajun seasoning and cook for a further 5 minutes

  4. Reintroduce the chicken along with the long grain rice. Add the tomatoes and chicken stock

  5. Cover the pan and simmer for 20-25 minutes (stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn't stick) until the rice is tender

Pork, Chorizo and Cannellini Bean Stew

Winter cooking

This pork stew is a hearty dish, easy to make, extremely cheap and the kids love it. The pork cooks for a long time so becomes very tender. It works well with green veg such as green beans, but I prefer just having crusty bread to dunk and mop up the lovely sauce. I often make more than necessary so that we can have the leftovers the next day served with rice.

Ingredients (serves 5) 

  • 850g pork shoulder steaks/pork shoulder

  • 400g tin cannellini beans

  • 250g of cooking chorizo (chorizo ring or several packs of the ready chopped)

  • 2  x 400g tins chopped tomatoes

  • 2 large red onions

  • 4 garlic cloves

  • 4 teaspoons paprika


  1. Slice the pork into strips and fry off in a casserole dish (which has a lid) until brown all over. Remove from the pan and drain off the fat

  2. Cut the chorizo into small chunks (or use the ready cubed) and add to the pan; brown off for two minutes then add the chopped onions, four teaspoons of paprika and the chopped garlic. Fry for a further two minutes until the onion has softened

  3. Add the pork back to the pan along with ½ a pint of water and the tinned tomatoes. Season to taste

  4. Simmer for one hour on a low heat with the lid on. Remove the lid, add the cannellini beans and simmer for a further 30 minutes

Winter Vegetable Soup

Winter cooking

What could be more synonymous with winter cooking than a hot, nourishing soup? The recipe I’d been using for this one suddenly disappeared. So in scenes reminiscent of George’s Marvellous Medicine, I tried to recreate the soup from memory. Here’s the recipe that I’ve now immortalised. This can be adjusted according to taste so don’t worry if you’re a few grams short on potato or a little heavier on the carrots. I’d already adapted the original as it was too parsnipy for our liking. This is really easy and quick to make. It's also surprisingly filling.

Ingredients (serves 5) 

  • Salted butter – 75g

  • Two small leeks (sliced) approximately 165g

  • 1 small onion – 125g (I use frozen chopped onions)

  • Carrots – 500g

  • Parsnips – 230g

  • 1 large potato – approximately 200g (peeled and roughly chopped)

  • 1 litre of vegetable stock

  • Salt and pepper to taste


1. Melt the butter in a casserole dish, add the leeks and onion and gently heat until softened. This should take approximately five minutes

2. Peel and very roughly chop the carrots, parsnips and potato if using a food processor (recommended) or chop smaller if not. I still use my trusty 15-year-old Babycook for this!

3. Add the carrot, potato and parsnip to the leek and onion and fry until softened

4. Add one litre of hot vegetable stock (as per pack instructions) to cover all the veg, add pepper to taste and bring to the boil

5. Simmer gently for 20-25 minutes with the lid on until all the vegetables are tender

6. Blitz with a hand stick blender or similar to desired consistency (add milk if you like a bit thinner)

7. Check seasoning and adjust accordingly. Add garnish if you fancy and serve with some warm crusty bread.

Meatball, cannellini and cavolo nero casserole

Winter cooking

This looks like a lot of ingredients, but it actually makes use of a number of store cupboard staples and is easy to make. Is it a soup, is it a casserole? I'm not really sure, but it's a hugely satisfying, filling and flavourful dish.

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 48 mini beef meatballs (approximately 800g)

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil

  • 3 medium-sized carrots

  • 1 large onion (diced)

  • 3 large garlic cloves (minced)

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1/2 tsp of chilli flakes

  • 200ml of dry red wine

  • 3 tbsp tomato purée

  • 1 litre of beef stock

  • 200g of cavolo nero (remove stalks)

  • 1 x 400g tin of cannellini beans

  • 3 sprigs of thyme

  • 1 tsp of white pepper


  1. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to a large pan and fry the meatballs until browned all over (approximately 10 minutes). Remove and drain the fat from the pan

  2. Add the remainder of the oil to the pan and gently cook the onion, garlic, carrots and bay leaf until soft (approximately 10 minutes)

  3. Pour in the wine and wait for it to start bubbling. Then add the tomato purée, beans, stock and thyme and give a good stir.

  4. Add the meatballs back to the pan and cook on a medium heat for 15 minutes ensuring the meatballs have no pink bits.

  5. Stir in the white pepper and cavolo nero and cook until that latter has wilted (approximately 2 minutes).

  6. Season with salt and a little bit of black pepper

Spaghetti Carbonara

Winter cooking

This is a real family favourite (the kids would have it twice a week if they could) and it's ridiculously easy to make. I use the recipe from the bible of Italian cooking: The Silver Spoon cookbook. NB there is no cream in this recipe!

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 25g butter

  • 100g cubed pancetta

  • 3 whole peeled garlic cloves (recipe says one clove but even three isn’t very strong)

  • One pack of spaghetti

  • 2 large eggs (beaten)

  • 40g Parmesan cheese (freshly grated)

  • 40g Pecorino (freshly grated)

  • Salt and pepper


  1. Melt the butter in a pan, add pancetta and garlic cloves and cook until garlic turns brown. Discard the garlic

  2. Meanwhile cook the spaghetti for a minute less than packet instructions say in a large pan of salted boiling water

  3. Drain the pasta, add to the pancetta and mix to coat

  4. Remove pan from heat and pour in the eggs – my children prefer the egg to be better cooked so I usually leave on the heat for a few seconds longer

  5. Add half the Parmesan and half the Pecorino and season to taste with pepper. Mix well, add the remaining cheese and mix again.

Sausage and Bean Casserole

Winter cooking
Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash

Ingredients (serves 4-5)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 12 high quality pork sausages

  • 1 onion, diced

  • 2 celery sticks, sliced

  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs

  • 3 tbsp tomato purèe

  • 2 tbsp flour

  • 250ml red wine

  • 1litre of fresh chicken stock (hot)

  • 1 x 400g can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed


  1. Heat oil in a casserole dish (or large frying pan) over a medium heat. Add the sausages and fry until browned all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

  2. Add the onion, celery and thyme sprigs to the pan and cook for 5 minutes; stir to prevent sticking.

  3. Add the tomato purèe and flour and cook for one minute.

  4. Pour in the red wine, bring to the boil and then simmer until reduced to a third.

  5. Add the stock to the pan, and once boiling reduce heat to a fast simmer

  6. Diagonally halve each sausage and add back to the pan. Simmer for a further 15 minutes ensuring they are cooked through

  7. Stir in the beans and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season to taste.

Serve with mashed potatoes or plenty of crusty bread.

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Stephen Collom
Stephen Collom
Feb 05

The sausage and bean casserole looks great 😊🤤

Francesca De Franco
Francesca De Franco
Feb 05
Replying to

Cheap to make and has a real depth of flavour.

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