It’s been colder than a witches’ teat here in the northeast for the past few days, which always make me want hearty, comforting soups and stews. Today, I’m pondering lentil soup and looking for a new version of my standard lentils-onions and carrots-stock-bay leaf in a pot jobby. Our newly stocked pantry opens up a new world of flavor possibilities, so I’m searching for some new takes. These are all distinguished by virtue of not only sounding delicious and having some unique twists, but also by their beautiful photos which manage to look exactly like a comforting bowl of hearty lentil soup and not at all like something one of my dogs vomited up 5 minutes ago.

101 Cookbooks is also feeling the wintertime lentil love with a “Lively Yourself Up” lentil and chard soup topped with a gorgeous jolt of bright yellow saffron mustard. Could some duck come into the picture here to add some more protein and add a fatty richness to contrast with the chard? Who can say?

The Orangette archives reveal two contenders: a black lentil with pepper and cumin, which sounds like an more interesting, updated version of the classic, and a green lentil soup with coconut and autumnal spices that I suspect might be this week’s winner. The original version of the green lentil included lamb, but I’m thinking that the chicken thighs currently residing in our freezer might be able to stand in for that part.

Can one miss with a recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini? One can not. Does one wish to live her seemingly storybook Parisian life? Yes, one does. But one will have to live it vicariously, perhaps by preparing her veloute de lentils aux marrons, or lentil and chestnut soup.

Farmgirl Fare finds the way straight to our pork-loving hearts with hearty lentil soup with smoked sausage. I may wait ’til our order from World Spice Merchants comes in to try that one, so I’ll have some high-quality smoked paprika on hand.

I have to admit that any recipe that includes “frankfurters,” even if they are listed as optional, gives me pause. Still, this totally classic version comes from James Beard’s Beard on Food, so I will just need to learn to trust. There is also no picture of this soup, so minus 2 points for that. It may, however, redeem itself my virtue of the amount of heavy cream included, which far outstrips most other versions of this typically healthy soup.

The Food Network and the elfin Wolfgang Puck bring us golden lentil soup with lamb meatballs. Like the Beard version, I must pause here to wonder whether raisins really belong in meatballs; I also don’t know if I can put the same faith in Wolfgang Puck as I can in James Beard. I include this mostly for the novelty factor and to ask, who would win in an elf-off: Wolfgang Puck of Jaques Pepin?