Comfort food is ‘feel-good’ in every way. There’s nothing better than a large bowl of warming soup or a hearty stew on a chilly day. Here are some tips to help make you a master at it…

• Flavour your soups with cheese rinds. As your soup begins to simmer, throw in an old cheese rind. It will soften and the flavours of the cheese will infuse into the soup. If the rind hasn’t completely dissolved by the time you’re ready to serve your soup, either remove it or break it into small, chewy pieces.

• Another secret to great soup is a good stock – homemade is always best. Make double the amount and keep some frozen in ice trays for whenever you need a ‘cube’ of flavour.

• Heat plates and bowls in the oven for a few minutes before dishing up, so your food stays warmer for longer.

• When browning meat in batches, make sure that both the pan and butter/oil in it remains hot between batches, or the meat will stew instead of seal and the juices and flavour will be lost.

• ‘Roll’ potatoes in a Ziploc bag containing olive oil, salt, garlic (and any other seasoning or herb you like) until well coated, before popping them onto a roasting tray.

• The pasta of choice for minestrone soup should always be short and fat; a sturdy shape that holds up well when boiled (like elbow macaroni, etc).

• Always beat flavourings, such as essences and rinds, with the butter in cake recipes to make the flavours more intense.

• One tasty way to thicken a soup is to add couscous to it – it will absorb the liquid and add a wholesome texture.

• Eating fruit doesn’t feel quite as inviting during winter as it does in summer. Sneak them into your diet in other ways – think tasty stewed fruit over oats or apples and pears baked into crumbles.

• Picking a good casserole dish will go a long way to delicious one-pot wonders. An oval shape is good for stews and curries, but it’s also ideal for your favourite roast leg of lamb. A round casserole will enhance the cooking process by evenly distributing the heat and locking in moisture, making it ideal for soups. A good casserole dish should also have a tight-fitting lid, so the cooking liquid doesn’t evaporate, leaving the food dry and scorched.

• Stock up on grocery-cupboard ‘winter staples’ like dried beans, pasta and rice, as well as preserves, chutneys and marmalades. Dried pulses such as white beans, kidney beans and lentils are fantastic in soups and stews.

• Try to incorporate warming spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves into your cooking and baking. They’ll add wonderful flavours to cakes, puddings and even roasted vegetables, while at the same time leaving your kitchen smelling cosy.

• Slow cooking in liquid tenderises even the toughest meat, so the cheaper cuts are good to use in casseroles. Topside, brisket, neck, shoulder, shin, blade, chuck and stewing steak all have tons of flavour, but can be tough if you rush them. Sticking them in a slow cooker or putting them in the oven for a few hours will turn the meat into tender nuggets of deliciousness, whilst the bones add flavour and intensity.

• Cooking with wine is very ‘winter’; just don’t use a poor-quality wine, as it can spoil the flavour of an entire dish.

• Save the outer leaves of broccoli and cauliflower and use them in soups.

• Mashed potatoes are all about winter, with lots of butter and cream!

• Freeze leftover soup by ladling it into a Ziploc bag inside a jug or bowl. Tie the bag loosely then put the jug or bowl in the freezer. Once the soup has frozen, remove the bag from the container, squeeze out as much air as possible and re-seal. And don’t forget to label and date it.

• Save electricity by multi-tasking with your oven. For instance, roast some tomatoes to turn into a pasta sauce and brown some beef bones for making stock, all at the same time.

• Cut a whole round of cheese in half and stick it near an outdoor fire (on a clean surface that can withstand the heat). As it starts to melt, scrape it onto fresh bread and enjoy with pickles. Delicious!