Delicious soups, like this crab soup from Georgia Sea Grill, on St. Simons Island, are available at many area restaurants.

When we began working on this issue I was really excited, because there’s almost nothing I enjoy eating more on a cold winter evening than soup. I’ve written before about my family’s Christmas Eve vegetable soup tradition, but that’s certainly not the only time a piping hot bowl of deliciousness appeared on our table. My mother cooked a mean pot of bean soup with ham. My dad preferred pinto beans, while Mom liked navy and great northern beans the best. No matter which variety of bean was in the bowl, it was always flavored with the rich smokiness of a ham hock, chopped onions, salt and pepper and bay leaves, topped with fresh-diced onions and served with cornbread baked in a cast iron skillet. My mom’s soup skills weren’t limited to beans and cornbread, however. She cooked chicken and dumplings from scratch, and then there was her homemade chicken and noodle soup, known for its curative powers.

At any rate, in our Coastal Illustrated feature, we have three fabulous soup recipes, from event planner Molly Middleton, who shared a family favorite Asian-inspired soup; Henry Worthy, with his famous green chili and Chip Wilson, with a traditional bowl of seafood soup created at the former Alfonza’s Old Plantation Supper Club. All are easy, delicious and perfect for family meal-time or larger-scale entertaining — when it’s safe. And, if you’re not handy in the kitchen, we have suggestions for where you can buy soup to go.

Many local restaurants offer daily stock pot offerings as well as soups that are on their regular menu. Both Georgia Sea Grill and Crabdaddy’s are well-known for their crab soup, and Island Pho for its chicken-lemongross pho. Head over to Southern Soul Barbeque for home-cooked delights, including lima bean with ham or clam “chowda.” Just check Facebook or Instagram for the day’s offerings.

In the Coastal Home feature, you can do a little dreaming while supping on your soup. Four local designers, including Jessica Been of Wired Collaborative, Adrienne Elsberry of Mary Bryan Peyer Designs, Elizabeth Carmichael of Elizabeth Carmichael Interiors and floral designer Kate Dart of Merci Bouquet, created vision boards detailing their predictions for design trends in 2021, including colors, textures and other insights. Earth tones and blues are hard to beat in the coastal environment, and there are plenty of natural fabrics that receive their due as well. The forecast for 2021? Beautiful.

In Cheri’s Shore Things, Cheri Leavy has craeted her own vision board with for 2021, and it’s filled with wonderful items to enjoy now and throughout the year.

Literary columnist Cary Knapp reviews “Circe,” the choice for the upcoming 2021 Big Read, sponsored by Golden Isles Arts and Humanities. The novel, by Madeline Miller, has as its protagonist the Greek sorceress Circe, who intercepts Odysseus and his men in Homer’s “The Odyssey” on their return to Ithaca. Circe is given short shrift in Homer’s epic poem, but Miller expands upon that role and makes her the heroine of her own story.

In real estate news, reporter Gordon Jackson gives some timely tips on curb appeal so your home will make a great first impression, and horticulture columnist Anne Ditmer tackles the challenge of the winter garden.

As an aside, the Golden Isles lost one of its very best last month when St. Simons Island resident Wayne Thompson passed away after battling ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Wayne helped raise countless dollars for local charities through his involvement with Second Sunday, his promotion and coordination of live music for the Brunswick Blessing of the Fleet and other good deeds he did as part of his daily life. Unassuming, funny and warm, Wayne treated everyone like family, and never let you leave hungry. He loved live music, and had seen many of the greats over the course of his life. His family — including wife, Holly and children, Hunter, Barrett and Betsy and their children – and friends celebrated his life at The TreeBar at Bennie’s Red Barn this past weekend, and had fun reminiscing about Wayne and our various connections to him. Godspeed, my friend.

We’ll see you again right before Valentine’s Day. Until then, fix some soup, enjoy a book, dream of how you’ll refashion your home in 2021 and don’t forget to wash your hands. Enjoy the issue.