Big, make-ahead soups, casseroles and stews to deliver to friends stuck at home

Mackensy Lunsford
Southern Kitchen

There are a few times in your life when friends and family will band together to deliver a flurry of casseroles to your doorstep. One is the arrival of a newborn baby. Another is quarantine. That's a fairly modern problem.

Even now, when most of us have the power to summon meal deliveries from our phones, it's nice to feel comforted in the warm embrace of a marginally nutritious but comforting dish of cheesy goodness. 

Of course, many would say healthy soups and vegetable dishes are the way to kick sickness, so we've added some more nutritious meals to our list, too. Here, some tried and true recipes for easy-to-reheat meals that also have enough oomph to linger on the doorstep while someone summons the energy to retrieve them.

Comforting macaroni 'pie'

This version of mac and cheese, from former Atlanta Journal and Constitution food editor Anne Byrn, hearkens to an early iteration of the dish. Two hundred years ago, the word “macaroni” was a generic term for pasta, and prototypical mac and cheese was a dish of broken and cooked spaghetti bound with custard and something akin to hoop cheddar. 

Anne Byrn’s Macaroni Pie

Byrn's version lands somewhere between a spaghetti casserole and mac and cheese. It also sounds like it would be a hit with kids. Indeed, food writer Nathalie Dupree of Charleston told Byrn she considers mac and cheese an important Thanksgiving side because it gives children “a familiar dish ... and I always make it with spaghetti.” Read more and get the recipe here

More from Anne Byrn:3 surprisingly simple steps to a perfect pot roast 

Try also: Anne Byrn’s Make-Ahead Breakfast Strata

Cheesy skillet potato casserole

Loosely based on a French “tartiflette,” this casserole can function as a hearty brunch or breakfast, or could serve as a simple entrée with a green salad. Let's face it; if you're stuck sick at home, you're probably just going to eat this straight out of the pan. 

Good news for busy people trying to do your quarantined friends a solid — the potatoes in this recipe are better if you cook them in advance. When you're ready to assemble the dish, simply slice the potatoes, render some bacon and sauté the Vidalia onions, then layer it all together in the pan with some cheese and sour cream. It doesn't get more comforting than that. Get the recipe here

Buttery, caramelized rice casserole

Rice casserole

Another comforting casserole with plenty of history is this one-dish wonder, a perfectly soothing, carb-loaded concoction full of cheese, cream, Vidalia onions and, of course, rice. But the important part for the housebound: It's filling enough that you won't have to get up for seconds — but you can if you want. 

Southern Kitchen's rice casserole comes from reader Betty Greene, whose family recipe is much-loved and fiddled with to perfection. Find it here

Spicy brisket chili

Brisket Chili

This five-hour dish is the perfect labor of love to gift an ailing friend, particularly if your love language is food. Your patience will manifest in an intensely beefy stew with a flavorful kick from rehydrated dried guajillo and ancho chilies. You should be able to find those in any store with a well-supplied aisle of international ingredients. Failing that, you can add some chipotles to taste instead, but don't overdo it. Along those lines, it's worth noting that not every sick person wants to blow their palate out with spice, so plan accordingly if you're not feeding a heat-seeker. 

A note for delivery: Be sure to include the toppings — the cheese, sour cream, chopped green onions and the like — on the side in little plastic Tupperware containers. Get the recipe here.

Veggie-packed one-pot minestrone

One Pot Minestrone

There are people who love cheesy noodles for comfort food goodness, and there are others who would prefer a brothy bowl of beans studded with greens, chickpeas, chopped tomatoes and squash. I happen to fall in the latter category.

Serve this with some crusty bread on the side and a nice salad (don't forget the dressing) and you've made a friend for life. Get the recipe.

Veggie recipes:Butternut Squash and Kale Casserole Recipe

Soups and stews:11 warming soups and stews to make when the weather gets chilly

Pot pie:Anne Byrn’s Chicken Pot Pie

Mackensy Lunsford is the food and culture storyteller for USA TODAY Network's South region and the editor of Southern Kitchen.

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Reach me: mlunsford@southernkitchen.com