Eat hearty: Our top ten winter recipes

IT'S TIME for comfort food, and we've assembled the top ten winter recipes (plus a bonus Jamie Oliver recipe) to warm your family's hearts. 

What's your favourite cold weather food? Let us know in the comments below.

10: Minestrone with sausages and beans

( serves 4 )

A variation on the classic minestrone, using good quality sausages packed with flavour.

When using fennel bulbs, discard the outer leaves as they are tough. Cut bulbs in half and then slice.


1 Tbsp   Olive oil
300 g      Italian sausages, skinned and crumbled
250 g      Fennel, (about 2 bulbs) finely sliced, fronds chopped and reserved
1              Leek, trimmed and finely sliced
1 clove  Garlic, crushed
1 ltr        Chicken stock
¾ tsp     Fennel seeds, crushed
400 g     Canned tomatoes, chopped in juice
1 can      Butter beans, 400g, drained and rinsed
1 cup     Macaroni, cooked
1 piece  Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving


Heat olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the crumbled sausage and cook over a high heat until browned. Transfer sausage to a plate.

Reduce heat to low and add fennel, leek, garlic and crushed fennel seeds. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add chicken stock and tomatoes along with browned sausage and simmer gently for about 20 minutes or until leeks are very soft.

Add beans and macaroni and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for a further 2 minutes until hot.

Ladle soup into warmed bowls and sprinkle with reserved chopped fennel fronds.

Serve with parmesan cheese and crusty bread, toasted if desired. A little aioli (garlic mayonnaise) for spreading is great here too.

Top ten continues below

Bonus recipe!

In our climate, winter cooking is not always about hearty, warming meals. There's as much call for perennials like pasta and salad - and here's a clever twist on that from Jamie Oliver's own kitchen: Butternut Pumpkin Penne, Mint & Avocado Chopped Salad

Watch the video for tips on how to make it:

9: Spinach and mushroom lasagne

Here's a tasty twist, replacing the usual white sauce with ricotta and sour cream for speedy preparation.


3 cloves  Garlic, crushed
350 g       Spinach, fresh, stems removed
2 Tbsp    Olive oil
2              Onions, chopped
300 g      Button mushrooms, wiped clean and thickly sliced
400 g      Canned tomatoes, chopped in juice
1 pinch  Sugar
2 sprigs Fresh oregano
250 g      Ricotta cheese
1              Bay leaf
250 g      Sour cream
¼ cup    Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
1              Egg
1 pack    Dried lasagne pasta 


Wash the spinach, allowing any remaining water to cling to the leaves. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add the spinach. (Do this in two batches to prevent overcooking). Cook for 1-1½ minutes until the spinach has wilted. Place in a sieve to drain further and set aside.

Add oil to the frying pan with the onions and cook over a low heat until the onions are soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further 1 minute.

Stir in the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, oregano, bay leaf and season with salt, freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sugar. Continuing cooking, stirring occasionally until the sauce is thick. Remove oregano sprigs and bay leaf.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180C. Grease a medium-sized oven-proof dish.

Place the ricotta, sour cream and egg in a bowl and mix well. Stir through ¼ cup parmesan.

Spoon half the ricotta mix in to the ovenproof dish. Add a layer of pasta, breaking it up to fit snugly. Spoon over half the mushroom mixture, then half of the wilted spinach. Repeat once more finishing with the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle over remaining parmesan and place in the oven for 30-35 minutes until hot and golden.

Complete the meal:

Place a gratin dish of butternut pumpkin (cut into 1cm dice, tossed in olive oil, salt and black pepper), in the oven to cook beside the lasagne.

8: Thick pea, ham and vegetable soup

( serves 6 )

This hearty pea and ham soup is a family favourite. It's a real stick-to-your-stomach soup, just how food should be on a cold winter's day.

You could put the soup through a blender before you put the ham back in, but that's not necessary. If it's a little thick for your liking, add a bit of extra stock or water.

This soup calls out for some crunchy croutons on the top. Use leftover bread, baked in the oven with a dash of olive oil and a sprinkling of herbs.


2             Onions, chopped
2             Garlic cloves, chopped
25 g       Butter
3             Carrots, medium sized, chopped
1             Celery stalk, chopped
2 Ltr       Stock, or water
250 g     Yellow split peas, or green
1             Free-range ham hock
¼ tsp     Salt & freshly ground pepper
¼ cup    Fresh parsley, chopped
1             Croutons, to sprinkle on top


Melt the butter in a large pot.

Add the onions, garlic, carrot and celery. Sweat for 8-10 minutes until soft but not brown.

Add the stock, ham, split peas, salt and pepper.

Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone and the peas are soft.

Remove the hock and pull the meat from the bone, dice and return to the soup.

Just before serving add freshly chopped parsley. Top each bowl with chunky croutons.

7: Portuguese bean soup

( serves 6 )

This dish is hearty, easy and tasty, created with men in mind.

Meat cooked on the bone is so succulent and juicy. In this Portuguese bean soup, the meat from the ham hock contributes to the chunky texture, along with the vegetables and beans.

Cabbage, added at the end, is optional - it's not everybody's favourite. But don't go without the chorizo or another spicy sausage.

Traditionally, red kidney beans are used but you can swap them for cannellini.

If you feel the soup is a little thick, add more liquid. This is a hearty meal in itself that's great with hot bread to mop it up.


2 ltr          Water
2              Onions, chopped
1 Tbsp   Oil
1              Ham hock
1              Celery stalk, sliced
1 clove   Crushed garlic
2              Potatoes, medium-sized, peeled and chopped
2              Carrots, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp   Ground paprika
2 cups   Tomato puree
¼ cup    Tomato paste
1 Ltr       Chicken stock
420 g     Kidney or cannellini beans, tin, drained and rinsed
½ cup    Macaroni
100 g     Chorizo sausages, chopped
1 Tbsp   Sugar
¼            Cabbage, shredded (optional)
to taste  Salt & freshly ground pepper 


In a large pot, place the water and hock. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 ½ hours.

Remove the hock and, when cool enough, pull off the meat and cut it into pieces.

Remove from pot and discard the hock bone and cooking water.

In the same pot, heat the oil and add the onion, garlic, celery, potatoes and carrots.

Cook for 5-8 minutes until slightly softened. Add the paprika and stir through.

Add the tomato puree, paste and stock and cook until the vegetables are soft (20-25 minutes).

Add the beans, macaroni and sugar and cook for 8-10 minutes until the macaroni is cooked.

In a small frying pan, heat the oil, add the sausage and brown quickly. Toss the cabbage into the pan to wilt.

Place the sausage and cabbage into the soup, stir and heat.

Season and serve with crusty bread.

6: Beef Wellington

( serves 6 )


25 g        Butter
1 kg        Beef fillet
1             Onion, chopped roughly
2             Garlic cloves
200 g     Mushrooms
2 Tbsp   hyme
¼ cup    Red wine
8 slices Prosciutto
400 g     Puff pastry
1             Egg, for glaze 


Melt half the butter in a heavy-based frying pan until hot. Sear the fillet all over and set aside until completely cold.

Place the onion, garlic, mushrooms and thyme into a food processor and pulse until completely chopped.

Add the rest of the butter to the frying pan then the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and thyme.

Cook until reduced, then add the wine and continue cooking until all evaporated. Remove and let cool.

Lay the prosciutto on to a large piece of plastic wrap, overlapping the sides.

Spread the mushroom mix down the middle, place the beef on top of the mushrooms.

Using the plastic wrap, roll the prosciutto around the beef and form a log. Refrigerate.

One hour before cooking, remove the meat from the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

On a lightly floured board, roll the puff pastry large enough to be able to wrap around the fillet and fold in the ends.

Place meat in the middle, fold in the ends, then roll. Seal edges with a little water.

Brush with a little egg. Place into the oven for 25 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and lightly browned.

A larger piece of meat may take 35 minutes.

Serve hot with vegetables.

5: Pork roast with prosciutto pears

Ingredients for pork

500 ml   Chicken stock
1.2 kg    Pork loins
2 tsp      Flaky sea salt

Ingredients for prosciutto pears

3              Pears
60 g        Prosciutto
2 Tbsp   Olive oil
1              Cloves
1 tsp      Allspice
2 Tbsp   Honey
4             Bay leaves 


Preheat oven to 220C. Score the pork fat well (you can ask your butcher to do this).

Pat fat dry with a kitchen towel and massage with the sea salt.

Place a sheet of baking paper into a medium roasting dish and add the pork fat-side up.

Pour stock around the base of the pork. Cook for 20 minutes until the fat starts to crackle and puff up.

Reduce heat to 175C and cook a further 60-70 minutes, depending on thickness of pork.

Cut pears into quarters and remove cores. Wrap each in a small strip of prosciutto and stud with 2-3 cloves.

Combine oil, honey and allspice and brush over pears.

Arrange pears and a few bay leaves around the pork for the last 15 minutes of cooking.

Pour excess honey oil over the pears and cook until golden and tender.

Serve pork sliced with crispy crackling and a few golden pears. Spoon over pan juices.

Tip: When you think the pork is ready, remove from the oven and pierce the thickest part of the flesh. The juices should run clear or just pink. As a general rule, cook 1 hour per kg. Cover with foil and rest for 5-8 minutes before slicing.

4: Walnut, chocolate and pear tart

( Serves 6 )

Pastry ingredients

150g     Flour
2 Tbsp Cocoa
90g       Butter
2 Tbsp Caster sugar
1           Small egg

Ingredients for filling

70g      Caster sugar
70g      Toasted walnuts
180g    Chocolate
250ml  Cream
3            Eggs
3            Pears, peeled, cored, cut in quarters

Preheat oven to 180C.

To make the pastry, place flour, cocoa, butter and sugar into a food processor. Blitz until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg and blitz until it is just starting to form a ball. Place on to a floured bench and knead gently to finish combining.

Roll pastry out into a circle large enough to fit a 24cm tart tin. Place carefully into tin, pushing pastry gently into the edges. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Line pastry with baking paper and rice and bake blind for 20 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool slightly while you make the filling. Turn oven down to 160C.

To make the filling: Place caster sugar in a small frying pan or pot and place on a medium heat to melt. Once it has turned to caramel, add nuts and pour on to a sheet of baking paper to cool. When cold, chop roughly with a knife or blitz a couple of times in food processor until chunky.

Chop chocolate roughly and place in a bowl. Heat cream until scalding then pour over chocolate. Stir until very smooth.

Add eggs one at a time to chocolate, mixing well after each addition.

Arrange pears in the bottom of the tart tin. Sprinkle over half the caramelised walnuts. Pour chocolate mixture over the pears, filling the pastry to the top. Return to oven for 25 minutes until just set. Cool before serving.

Garnish with remaining walnuts and serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

3: Rack of lamb with chimichurri sauce

( serves 4 )


1 cup     Parsley, leaves
½ cup    Fresh coriander
3            Garlic cloves
1            Red chilli, roughly chopped
½ tsp    Cumin
½ tsp    Coriander
¼ cup   White vinegar
½ cup   Olive oil
¼ tsp    Salt
              Pepper, few grinds
1 tbsp Oil, to coat lamb
2           Racks of lamb, trimmed of all fat 


Place parsley, coriander, garlic, chilli, cumin and coriander in a food processor.

Whizz until finely chopped. Then add vinegar, oil and salt and pepper. Blitz again until very well blended.

Rub a third of the sauce over the lamb and leave to marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 180C.

In a frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil and sear the outsides of the lamb to seal and brown.

Place straight into the hot oven for 15-20 minutes, or until done to your liking.

Remove and let meat rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Serve with vegetables of your choice.

2: Slow-roasted pork leg with pomegranate slaw

( serves 8 )

Slow roasted pork leg with pomegranate slaw
Slow roasted pork leg with pomegranate slaw

This pork is slow-cooked until the meat is falling off the bones. It is a great way to feed a crowd, with fresh bread and a delicious coleslaw, and it is hard to go past a dollop of apple sauce on the side.

Marinating the meat overnight makes it even more tender, and you can crispen up the skin at the end if you desire.

The pomegranate in this dressing adds a surprise with a little sweetness.

Ingredients for the pork leg

1½ kg   Pork, leg, bone in
4 cups   Black coffee, cooled
¼ cup    Salt
2 Tbsp   Fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
¼ cup    Brown sugar
2             Onions, sliced
6             Garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup     Black coffee, strong
1 cup     Cider
1 cup     Chicken stock
2 sprigs Fresh rosemary
2 Tbsp   Mustard
1 Tbsp   Sea salt
                Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup    Maple syrup

Ingredients for the slaw

¼             Cabbage, shredded
½             Red onion
60 g        Kale, shredded
¼             Red pepper, thinly sliced
¼ cup    Fresh parsley, chopped For the dressing
¼ cup    Mayonnaise, use a good quality variety
2 Tbsp   Pomegranate syrup
1 Tbsp   Lemon juice


Place the pork in a large bowl or a bucket. Add the coffee, salt, rosemary and brown sugar. Leave to soak, refrigerated, for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.

Set oven to 140C.

Remove pork from the marinade and pat dry. Place in a large baking dish.

Add the onion, garlic, coffee, cider, chicken stock and rosemary. Rub the pork with the mustard, sea salt and pepper. Cover with a lid or tinfoil.

Place in the preheated oven for 4 hours. Check after 2 hours and turn the meat over. Remove from the oven and strain off the liquid.

Turn the oven up to 200C. Top the pork with maple syrup and return it to the oven for a further 10 minutes to brown the top.

Remove from the oven and shred with two forks.

Mix the slaw ingredients together with the pomegranate dressing. Serve the pork with slaw and crusty bread.

1: Rhubarb and apple pie with crumble topping

( Serves 6-8 )


150g flour
2 Tbsp sugar
90g butter
2-3 Tbsp cold water

4 granny smith apples, peeled and chopped
4 stalks rhubarb, cut into 2cm pieces
1/3 cup water
¼ cup sugar
Zest of ½ orange

½ cup flour
1 cup large oats
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup nuts, chopped roughly
½ tsp cinnamon
60g butter, melted

Preheat oven to 180C.

To make pastry, place flour, sugar and butter into a food processor. Blitz until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add water and blitz until it starts to form a ball. Place on floured bench.

Roll pastry to fit a 24cm x 3cm deep pie dish. Press carefully into dish, cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Bake blind in oven for 20 minutes. Remove and add filling and topping.

To make filling, place apple, rhubarb and water in a medium-sized pot. Cover and bring to a simmer for 8 minutes until fruit has softened but not lost its shape. Add sugar and zest and stir through. Spoon into pastry case.

To make topping, place flour, oats, seeds, nuts and cinnamon in a bowl. Add melted butter and stir through. Spread on top of apple and rhubarb mixture, piling it up to create a crunchy topping.

Place into oven for 20-30 minutes until golden. Serve hot with ice cream or whipped cream.