4 Hot and Healthy Recipes for the Holiday Season

Amber flames lick the edges of crackling logs, throwing shadows around the room. You curl up on the sofa—safe from the chilling wind and drizzle outside. The evening is calm and cozy as you spoon another bite from a steaming bowl.

Sounds nice, right? I want to zero in on that last part.

One of the best things about cold weather (I think) is cold weather food. Savory soups, simmering stews and so on—stuff that warms you to your core. Today, I’d like to share four recipes that will do just that.

The following vegetarian-friendly recipes come from the Tower-to-Table Cookbook, which contains 20 original recipes submitted by Tower Gardeners. Hint: Bolded ingredients are those you can grow (and may already be growing!) with Tower Garden.

1. Tuscan Bean-Kale Soup

Better bring a big appetite (or a big family) for this one! Featuring an assortment of roasted vegetables, fresh herbs and Northern beans, this hearty soup is both flavorful and filling. It’s also a great way to use up an abundance of kale.


  • 2 large tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick wedges
  • 4 cups kale, finely chopped
  • 3 large fresh thyme sprigs
  • 3 carrots, peeled and quartered
  • 1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 15 oz great Northern beans, drained
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (consider making your own!)
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with oil spray.
  3. Arrange carrots, tomatoes, onion, squash and garlic on sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.
  4. Roast vegetables until brown and tender (about 45 minutes), stirring occasionally.
  5. Transfer carrots and squash to work surface. Once cooled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and set aside.
  6. Peel garlic cloves and place in processor with tomatoes and onion. Puree until almost smooth.
  7. Pour 1/2 cup broth onto baking sheet, and scrape up any browned bits. Transfer broth and vegetable puree to large pot.
  8. Add kale, thyme, bay leaf and 5 1/2 cups broth to pot, and bring to a boil.
  9. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until the kale is tender (about 30 minutes).
  10. Add beans, carrots and squash to soup, and simmer 8 minutes to blend flavors.
  11. Season with salt and pepper. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf before eating.

2. Creamy Tomato Basil Bisque

In my opinion, not much beats a bowl of homemade tomato basil bisque—especially when coupled with a gooey, grilled cheese and basil pesto sandwich. Loaded with fresh vegetables and herbs, this particular bisque packs quite a nutritional punch.


  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 whole peeled tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 3 tbsp fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp fresh marjoram
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 14.5 oz stewed tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 pint half and half
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste


  1. Heat the butter in large soup pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Lower heat to medium, add onion, carrot, celery and garlic, and cook, covered, until soft and fragrant (about 8-10 minutes), stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in the flour.
  4. Using a blender, puree tomatoes.
  5. Pour the stock and crushed tomatoes into the pot. Add pureed tomatoes, and bring to a boil while whisking constantly.
  6. Add parsley, basil, thyme, marjoram, sugar and bay leaves to the pot.
  7. Lower heat and simmer for 40 minutes.
  8. Remove the bay leaves and discard.
  9. Whisk in the half and half, salt and pepper.

3. Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup

Often when I make vegetable soup, I simply toss whatever fresh produce I have on hand together in a pot. And that tends to work pretty well. But following a formula is probably a wiser way to ensure a successful (and tasty) soup. For this one, you’ll need a slow cooker and about 10 hours. But the results are worth it!


  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh marjoram
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil
  • 2 lb tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced and quartered
  • 2 cups of green beans
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1.5 lb red potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups of corn
  • 1 cup of peas
  • 2 qt (8 cups) vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup uncooked pasta


  1. Combine stock, tomatoes, carrots, celery, potatoes, onion, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper, herbs and bay leaves in a large slow cooker.
  2. Stir well. Cover and cook on low in the slow cooker for 7–8 hours.
  3. Add corn, zucchini, peas and green beans.
  4. Stir well, cover and continue cooking on high for 90 minutes.
  5. Add the pasta, cover and cook for another 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the bay leaves and serve.

4. Slow Cooker Ratatouille

Until I saw it in the cookbook, I’d never heard of making ratatouille in a slow cooker. But it’s probably the most convenient way to make the colorful Italian dish. Simply add everything to the slow cooker in the morning, and dinner will be ready for you that night!


  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 2 yellow squash, diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 2 zucchinis, diced
  • 1 large eggplant, diced
  • Basil, thyme, rosemary, garlic chives, lavender, oregano, finely chopped, to taste
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Mix all ingredients in a slow cooker, reserving a pinch of the herbs for garnish.
  2. Cook on low for 6–8 hours.
  3. Garnish with remaining herbs.
  4. Optional: serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Get More Fresh Recipes

Hungry for other delightful Tower-to-Table dishes like these? The free Tower Gardener Cookbook features recipes for salads, stir fries, soups and much more. Grab the Tower-to-Table Cookbook PDF here »

Do you have an amazing cold weather recipe the world should know about? Share it in the comments below! 

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