Winter Comfort Foods

Feb 18, 2021

It’s mid-February and here we are, still just halfway through a cold, Canadian winter – and still in the grip of a pandemic that continues to keep us stuck at home.  What to do to raise our spirits and warm our tummies?  Turn to the foods that we identify as winter comfort foods – the foods that make us feel warm all over.  Herewith, our team members’ favourite recipes and favourite takeout, to help get us through winter.  Bon appétit!


French onion soup is a classic to take off the winter chill.  Give this great recipe a try:

If you love French onion soup but don’t want to make it yourself, order it from Maison Selby, which we feel serves one of the best in Toronto:

 Maple Leaf Tavern sells a variety of warming soups, including that old stand-by, chicken noodle:

The menu at Ascari offers two yummy soups:  Lobster Bisque and Tarragon Pistou, and Smoked Ham Hock with Tuscan Kale and Potato Soup

For the vegetarians in the family, or any fans of vegetable soups, here are a couple of tried-and-true recipes:

Red Lentil, Vegetable & Barley Soup
From the book, MealLeanIYumm! by Norene Gilletz

Heat oil in a large soup pot.  Add garlic and onions.  Sauté on medium heat until golden, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Add a little water if vegetables begin to stick.  Add remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer partly covered for 1 hour, or until barley is tender.  Stir occasionally.  Thin with a little water if soup is too thick.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

Yield:  12 servings.  Soup freezes and/or reheats well.
169 calories per serving, 1.7 g fat (0.3 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 8 g protein, 32 g carbohydrate, 629 mg sodium, 530 mg potassium, 3 mg iron, 10 g fibre, 55 mg calcium

Nancy Gordon’s Split Pea Soup
From the book, MealLeanIYumm! by Norene Gilletz

Combine peas and water in a large pot.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Skim off foam.  Add bay leaves and half of the dill.  Reduce heat and simmer partially covered until peas are tender, about an hour.

Meanwhile, chop celery, carrots, potato, onion and garlic into bite-sized pieces.  In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Cook veggies for 5 to 7 minutes, until soft.  Add to soup and simmer covered for 20 to 30 minutes, until veggies are tender.  Remove bay leaf.  Add remaining dill.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Soup can also be puréed.  If too thick, thin it with a little water.

Yield:  12 servings.  Reheats and/or freezes well.
176 calories per serving, 1.7 g fat (0.2 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 11 g protein, 31 g carbohydrate, 28 mg sodium, 558 mg potassium, 2 mg iron, 11 g fibre, 35 mg calcium


Beef Chili

This small gourmet shop features a jam-packed freezer section that’s colder than Toronto in February! The best beef chili we’ve ever tasted.

Irish Beef Stew

Pour yourself a Guinness to accompany your stew and make it a truly authentic meal from the Emerald Isle.

Guinness Lamb Shanks

On a cold winter day, Jamie Oliver’s take on this classic is the perfect dinner to warm your body and soul!

Meat Pies

Give your taste buds a trip to jolly olde England, without having to leave home!  The folks behind the ever-popular Queen & Beaver Public House opened up their meat pie company last spring, and you can have their fabulous meat pies delivered right to your door.

You can now enjoy Summerhill Market’s offerings in three Toronto locations:  446 Summerhill Ave., 1054 Mt. Pleasant Rd., and 1014 Bathurst St.  Their chicken pot pies and quiches are so delicious!


Sometimes, you just need a pizza.  But here’s one that’s quite decadent: a wonderful, thin-crust, Dante pizza from Capocaccia Trattoria, at 1366 Yonge St. (south of St. Clair).  A tasty combination of prosciutto, pear, walnuts, Gorgonzola, honey, and mozzarella. It feels “homey” and hits the spot.

Sweet Stuff


There’s nothing better than grabbing one of these piping-hot, deep-fried, Canadian treats when you’re strolling along the downtown waterfront on a chilly winter’s day (south side of Queen’s Quay West, at the foot of York St.).  Try their Killaloe Sunrise, Hazel Amour, or any of the other wild and wonderful flavour combinations.

Butter Tarts

From Canadian Living Cooks – Step by Step, by Daphna Rabinovitch

  1. In large bowl, stir flour with salt. With pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces.  In liquid measure, whisk egg yolk with vinegar; add enough ice water to make 1/3 cup (75 mL).
  2. Gradually sprinkle egg mixture over flour mixture, stirring briskly with fork until pastry holds together. Press into disc; wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until chilled or for up to 3 days.
  3. Filling: In bowl, vigorously whisk together brown sugar, corn syrup, egg, butter, vanilla, vinegar and salt.  Set aside.
  4. On lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8 inch (3 mm) thickness. Using 4-inch (10 cm) round cookie cutter (or empty 28 oz/796 mL can), cut out 12 circles, rerolling scraps once if necessary.
  5. Fit circles into 2¾ -x 1¼ -inch (7 x 3 cm) muffin cups. Divide currant among pastry shells.  Spoon in filling until three-quarters full.
  6. Bake in bottom third of 450oF (230oC) oven for about 12 minutes or until filling is puffed and bubbly and pastry is golden. Let stand on rack for 1 minute.  Run metal spatula around tarts to loosen; carefully slide spatula under tarts and transfer to rack to let cool.

TIP: Because sugar filling hardens quickly and sticks to the pan, be sure to remove tarts from pan as directed.

Yield:  12 tarts
About 240 calories per tart, 11 g fat (5 g saturated), 52 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein, 33 g. carbohydrate, 1 g fibre. %RDI: 2% calcium, 11% iron, 7% vitamin A, 3% folate