While soup is a hearty, warm meal best served in the winter, gourmet soups can also be delicious and satisfying year-round. Whether served as a starter, as a side dish or as the main course, a gourmet soup can be the star attraction of your table.

The trick to setting your soup apart, taking it from ordinary to gourmet, sometimes requires some planning and creative use of ingredients. Many gourmet soup recipes are best enjoyed in fine dining restaurants, but they can also be prepared with the things you happen to have in your pantry or fridge.

Thankfully, soup can often be made ahead of time and can easily be frozen. This allows you to have easy, delicious meals, ready to go when you need something quick and healthy. To help you get started, here are eight gourmet soup recipes that are sure to please everybody:

1. Italian-Style Southern Soup Recipe

A familiar, comforting meal, an Italian-style soup is easily made by cooking ground beef, onions and garlic, adding beans and tomatoes and bringing to a boil with chicken stock and spices. Rosemary, thyme and bay leaves are traditional favourites. Simmer for an hour, until the beans are soft. This gourmet soup recipe is served with bread and your favourite cheese.

2. Creamy Carrot-Orange Soup Recipe

Carrot and orange create a distinct, satisfying flavour combination; they come together perfectly in a gourmet soup. Peel and chop carrots, heat with chopped onion until softened. Add chicken broth and bring to boil, simmer for approximately 15 minutes and puree.

To finish this gourmet soup recipe, add cream or homogenized milk, one cup of orange juice, chopped dill and mix again. Top with a sprig of dill and serve with your favourite bread.

3. French Onion Soup Recipe

This traditional favourite can be made even better—or at least more hearty—by adding your favourite root vegetable. Simply melt butter, add onions, garlic and brown sugar, stirring frequently, until onions are golden and caramelized.

Add small pieces of your additional vegetable, whether potato, parsnips, sweet potato or even carrots. Sprinkle with flour, add beef broth and a splash of red wine. Simmer until root vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper; serve with cheese-topped bread.

4. Cauliflower and Cheese Soup Recipe

This delicious gourmet soup recipe is easily modified to suit your tastes and available ingredients. Start by heating chopped onions and celery in oil, until softened. Add a head of cauliflower, broken into florets, and curry paste.

Add chicken stock and bring to a boil, add milk and simmer until cauliflower is tender. Puree and heat through with your favourite cheese—strong flavours work best. Add salt and pepper, top with chopped parsley and serve with your favourite bread.

5. Cream of Mushroom Soup Recipe

This classic soup is easily made at home, bringing together the earthy flavour of mushroom with the hearty, familiar texture of cream of mushroom soup. Simply heat onion and garlic in melted butter, add brown or cremini mushrooms, chopped. Add red wine, thyme and beef stock; bring to a boil.

To cook this gourmet soup recipe, cover and simmer for up to 20 minutes, stir in cream, salt and pepper. Serve with your favourite crusty bread.

6. Chilled Cucumber Dill Soup Recipe

In a processor, blend peeled, seeded cucumber with onion, avocado and homogenized milk—some recipes call for buttermilk and/or sour cream—add beets, lime, chopped dill and a small amount of garlic, if you have it on hand. Puree and chill. Serve cold with herbs and feta cheese as toppings.

7. Green Lentil Soup Recipe

This gourmet soup recipe may require a thoughtful trip to the delicatessen or grocery store, but the results will be worth your effort. Heat both oil and butter in a pan and add onion, celery and garlic.

Add lentils and water; cook for 20 minutes, then add squash, chopped red chilli and caraway seeds. Continue to cook until lentils are tender, season with coriander and serve with warm bread.

8. Roasted Beet and Soft Cheese Soup Recipe

Any soup with beets is sure to brighten your table. This gourmet soup recipe produces a brilliant red colour, often the perfect contrast to the rest of your meal. Simply bake beets, tossed in a small amount of oil, for approximately 40 minutes—until tender. Puree with chicken or vegetable broth and heat through, add leeks and season, as desired. Continue cooking over low heat, add milk or cream and heat through again. Top with feta, goats milk or your favourite soft cheese. Serve warm or chill and serve cold.

There are so many reasons to serve soup for your next meal. Whether you are looking to compliment another dish or simply want to dive into a soothing, hearty comfort meal, soup is a reliable go-to dish for any season. We hope you feel inspired by these gourmet soup recipes to try something new the next time you’re planning to serve a gathering of friends and family.