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Cozy Recipes for Winter from 5 Different Cultures

It’s February, and for those of us in Chicago, that means frigid winter temperatures. Winter means brisk walks breathing in the cold winter air and snow days spent bundled up indoors. These cold, dark months feel like the perfect excuse to get cozy.

And when I think of cozy, I think of hot drinks. I think of comforting foods that warm me up on a cold day. Chicago is a diverse and culturally rich city. Thankfully, that means a plethora of options when it comes to cold weather comfort food from dozens of cultural traditions. And at World Relief Chicagoland, we are all about celebrating that diversity. We serve families and individuals from dozens of countries with unique cultures and histories. In my opinion, one of the best parts of this is learning about and experiencing new foods and customs.

This roundup of recipes brings you delicious soups and stews from across the globe. Each is written by a cook from different background and is a unique expression their creativity and culture.

Why not test out one of the recipes below today?

Recipes for Cozying Up this Winter

Creamy Vegan Ramen Noodles

Recipe by Joanne Molinaro

Author of The Korean Vegan cookbook, Joanne Molinaro started her food blog in 2016 when she turned to a plant-based diet. But it was after going viral on TikTok during the COVID-19 pandemic that she pivoted full-time to creating recipe videos. Today, she creates 60-second videos and blogs of vegan recipes of Korean food while sharing stories about her family – immigrants from what is now North Korea.

This ramen (or “lah-myun” in Korean) recipe puts a vegan spin on a popular trend. On TikTok, cooks make ramen rich and creamy by adding egg and mayonnaise to a bowl of ramen. In this vegan version, Korean soy milk and doenjang (fermented soybean paste) lend the same level of creaminess. With tons of vegetables, soy sauce, tofu, and noodles, just a few minutes create a spicy and satisfying noodle soup.

Seco de Chivo (Goat Stew)

Recipe by Layla Pujol

Cook Layla Pujol, who goes by Laylita, was born in Ecuador before moving to the U.S. and now living in Luxembourg. Her blog is full of recipes for the Ecuadorian dishes she grew up eating, but it also introduces readers to foods from across Latin America. Laylita draws on inspiration from family and friends cooking and eating across the world and celebrates Latin American culture as well as culinary tradition.

Seco de chivo, or goat stew, is a recipe for celebration! Laylita’s community prepared it only for fiestas when she was growing up. With tender goat meat and a sauce made with flavors like garlic, cumin, achiote, oregano, cilantro, and a fermented corn drink, this hearty goat stew can also be served with rice, fried plantains, or avocado!


Recipe by Natasha Kravchuk

Natasha Kravchuk arrived to the U.S. with her family as a refugee at only four years old. When they left their home of Ukraine, the family knew no English at all – but they were committed to becoming part of their new community. Today, Natasha and her husband Vadim make videos and blogs of their recipes on Natasha’s Kitchen. There, she shares well-loved recipes – many of which come from family and friends – and include many from Russia and Ukraine.

Beets make borscht, a nutritious and delicious soup full of beans, potatoes, carrots, and cabbage, a striking red color. Full of vegetables and served with a dollop of sour cream on top, borscht is a classic dish in Ukraine and perfect for cold winter months. Just be careful to not stain your hands red with beets in the process!


Recipe by Priya Krishna
Image from Bon Appetit.

One of my favorite food writers is Priya Krishna, currently with The New York Times. She calls her cookbook Indian-ish a loving tribute to her mom’s cooking – Indian-American hybrids that are “easy to make, clever, practical, and packed with flavor.”

Her Kadhi recipe for Bon Appetit is all about being simple to make but full of complex flavor – what she describes as “a cozy blanket draped over a hot bowl of white rice.” The recipe comes in many variations across regions in India, and this version is full of spices and tinted the distinctive yellow color of turmeric.

Red Red Vegan Bean Stew

Recipe by Zoe Adjonyoh
Image from The Today Show.

In 2010, Zoe Adjonyoh started on a mission to “bring African foods to the masses.” Today, she is a recipe creator and ambassador for “New African Cuisine” and author of a popular cookbook called “Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen.”

She sees food as a powerful tool – a “bridge between cultures” that was also a way that she connected to her own family history in Ghana while growing up as the child of immigrants.

Recipes like this “Red Red Vegan Bean Stew” are a delicious way to learn a little bit about Ghana too! This stew made of black-eyed peas cooked in spiced tomato sauce is a meal eaten any time of day in Ghana. It’s a tasty, healthy, nourishing, and comforting food that is equally easy to make! To go the extra mile, serve with fried plantain on the side.

Cook and Eat!

These recipes bring flavors from countries across the globe as their creators blend old traditions with new techniques and their own spin. If you try any of these recipes, why not share some with a friend or neighbor? Or ask someone in your community to teach you how to cook their favorite food! If you do, post a photo on social media and be sure to tag World Relief Chicagoland. We can’t wait to see your culinary masterpiece!

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