Meet the Cook: There were 11 children in my family when I was growing up, and my husband and I have seven grown children (and now eight grandchildren). Need less to say, I have been cooking ever since I could handle a spoon. People love this soup's flavor and creamy cheese consistency. I've given the recipe to friends, who've varied it a little. One substituted summer squash and zucchini for the rutabaga. She said it tasted just great that way, too.
-Helen Riesterer, Kiel, Wisconsin
Meet the Cook: Main-meal soups are something I'm always on the lookout for. Since I love cheese and our kids like anything with Mexican flavor, I knew this one would be popular at our house. I've served it with tacos, nachos or a loaf of bread. Our three children are grown, and we've just become proud grandparents.
-Susan Salenski, Copemish, Michigan
Meet the Cook: This soup's one my mother taught me to make. It's good all year but especially when the weather's cold. In winter, I serve it with grilled cheese sandwiches. It would also be a nice lunch with a side salad or homemade corn bread. Even our grandchildren - we have four - like it. It's a good way of getting them to eat their vegetables. My husband and I have two grown daughters.
-Edna Tilley, Morganton, North Carolina
As a student attending college full-time, I find my time in the kitchen is limited. This recipe helps me have a hot meal on the table when my husband gets home. He's a real meat-and-potatoes man, but he absolutely loves this thick, creamy chowder with tortilla strips that puff up like homemade noodles.
While I don't have scientific proof of it, Red Pepper Soup works for me as a head cold remedy! It is a good gift to take when visiting a sick friend, too. For a pretty touch, top the soup with grated cheese and parsley. We enjoy it with jalapeno cheese buns. You can also serve it with warm garlic bread.
-Barb Nelson, Victoria, British Columbia
I've lived on a farm in the Yakima Valley all my life. I have a big garden, and by the end of fall, my cellar shelves are full of canned fruits and vegetables. This recipe uses some of the root vegetables I grow…along with the delicious salmon that is so plentiful here. —Josephine Parton, Granger, Washington
At family get-togethers, our children always request this spirit-warming soup along with a fresh loaf of homemade bread and tall glasses of milk. It has robust flavor, plenty of fresh-tasting vegetables and is easy to make.
-Barbara Brown, Janesville, Wisconsin
This rich, creamy chowder is so good you won't believe it starts with canned soup and frozen vegetables. It showcases tender chunks of halibut, but salmon or most any type of whitefish will do. I double the recipe for large gatherings, and guests almost lick the pot clean!
-Mary Davis, Palmer, Alaska
When out-of-state friends dropped by, I invited them to stay for dinner, knowing that I could put together this mild, chili-flavored soup in a jiffy. I served it with cornmeal muffins and a crisp salad for a filling meal everyone loved. My guests even asked for the recipe before leaving!
-Priscilla Gilbert, Indian Harbour Beach, Florida
A friend in New York shared the recipe for this chilled melon soup that's pleasantly spiced with cinnamon. Most people are skeptical when I describe it, but after one spoonful, they're hooked. It's easy to prepare, pretty to serve and so refreshing.
-Margaret McNeil, Memphis, Tennessee