Gallery: 5 Most Popular Dinner Recipes in 2011

Each day we bring you a Dinner Tonight recipe for suppertime inspiration. Many are quick and easy to whip up with everyday cupboard items. Soups, salads, pasta, meatballs, and plenty more—these were our five most popular dinner recipes this year.

  • Thick and Creamy Tomato Soup

    Creamy tomato soup
    Vicky Wasik

    With only a splash of cream per serving, the secret to the creamy consistency of this tomato basil soup is carrot purée. Its subtle sweetness mellows the acidity of canned tomatoes, for a hearty soup that feels like a meal on its own. Finished with a handful of fresh basil, this soup is the perfect accompaniment to any salad or grilled cheese.

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    Dan Dan Noodles

    This version of Dan Dan noodles, adapted from Bon Appetit, is easy to pull off. Besides Sichuan peppercorns, there's nothing too difficult to find (they'd be sorely missed, but you could make it without them), and the technique is as simple as using high heat and working quickly. It's a slightly Americanized version, yet the taste is wonderful, deep, and satisfying—and it comes together in less than 20 minutes.

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    Pasta e Broccoli

    What really works with the famous pasta e broccoli is that if you cook it long enough, the parboiled broccoli breaks up into the pasta and almost melts into a pasta-clinging sauce when combined with the cooking water. Increasing the ratio of broccoli-to-pasta not only makes the dish a bit healthier, but better too. While this version is a simple one with garlic, pepper flakes, and parmesan, you could also might melt some anchovies into the oil and skip the parmesan. Either way, this is a delicious way to eat your broccoli.

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    Niku Udon

    This beef-topped udon dish is complex and slightly rich, with just a tinge of sweetness in each spoonful. The thinly sliced beef cooks in seconds, and the tofu and scallions need all of a minute before they're ready to go. The only hard part is tracking down the kombu (kelp) and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) that are used to prepare it. Luckily, they can be purchased in bulk from most Asian grocery stores, and can be stored for months. Plus, you can make a big batch of dashi and then freeze the extra, much like you can do with chicken stock.

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    Make-Ahead Chickpea Salad With Cumin and Celery Recipe

    Make-Ahead Chickpea Salad With Cumin and Celery Recipe
    J. Kenji López-Alt

    A simple salad of chickpeas dressed in a light vinaigrette is flavored with cumin, shallots, and olive oil. Crunchy celery and parsley finish it off. This is the kind of salad that gets better as it sits—make it one night and pack it for lunch at the office or on a picnic the next day.

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