January has arrived with a blast of frigid cold air. So when I arrive home and shove the dog-paw themed fleece draft stopper against the door, I look forward to settling in with a steaming bowl of soup and an episode of “Say Yes to the Dress” or “NCIS” to chase away the winter chills.

The Mexican-inspired Chicken Tortilla Soup calls for using the slow cooker. I substituted boneless, skinless chicken breasts for chicken thighs. If I’m in a hurry, I’ll shred pre-cooked or leftover cooked chicken breasts and simmer the soup on the stove.

If you’re a mac-and-cheese lover, you’ll line up for second helpings when Ham & Mac & Cheese Soup is bubbling away.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

For the chicken:

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 (28-ounce) package boneless skinless chicken thighs

For the soup:

2 tablespoons butter

1 small (1/2 cup) onion, chopped

2 (10-ounces) cans diced tomatoes with green chiles

1 (15-ounces) can black beans, drained, rinsed

1 cup frozen corn kernels

1 (14.5-ounces) can chicken broth

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Toppings:

Tortilla strips

Sour cream, if desired

Shredded cheese

Chopped fresh cilantro leaves, if desired

Lime wedges, if desired

Combine all chicken ingredients except chicken in bowl; rub over chicken thighs. Melt butter in 12-inch skillet until sizzling. Add chicken thigh (or chicken breasts); cook over medium heat 4-6 minutes, turning once, or until browned.

Place chicken thighs into bottom of slow cooker. Add all remaining soup ingredients. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 4-5 hours or High heat setting 2-3 hours or until chicken pulls apart easily with a fork.

Remove chicken from slow cooker with slotted spoon. Shred using 2 forks. Return shredded chicken to slow cooker; stir.

Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with tortilla strips. Serve with sour cream, cilantro and lime wedges, if desired. Serves 6.

Ham, Mac & Cheese Soup

1 1/2 cups uncooked dried small macaroni shells

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth

1 1/2 cups fat-free half & half

11 (3/4-ounce) slices Land O Lakes Deli American coarsely chopped

1 cup finely diced ham

Salt, as desired

Pepper, as desired

Croutons, if desired

Shredded cheese, if desired

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; set aside. Melt butter in 3-quart saucepan until sizzling; stir in flour and mustard.

Add broth and half & half. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, 4-5 minutes or until mixture comes to a boil.

Reduce heat to low; stir in cheese until melted. Stir in cooked macaroni and ham. Cook 4-5 minutes or until heated through. Salt and pepper to taste. Serves 6.

Recipes from Land o’ Lakes