Category Archives: Soups

Easy Freezer Mexican Soup

I was hungry for something hot and spicy, and tortilla soup was the first thing that came to mind. I had recently purchased a red beans & rice mix on sale for 78 cents, and realized I had all the rest of the the ingredients in my fridge or freezer, making for a ridiculously fast and easy meal. 
Ingredients:
2 chicken drumsticks
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 packet red beans & rice
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup tri-pepper and onion mix
1 cup salsa
1/4 tsp chipotle pepper powder
Step 1: Add about 4 cups water and all ingredients to a large pot and heat to boiling. Simmer on low for 40-60 minutes. 

 Step 2: Take the drumsticks out and tear the meat off the bone. Return the meat to the pot.

You can use thighs, breasts, or whatever meat you want, or omit the meat entirely. Browned ground beef would probably also be delicious. You can also top with shredded cheddar or sour cream. It is filling, slightly spicy, and has great flavor. Careful, because it does make quite a bit!

Shrimp & Bell Pepper Linguini Alfredo. Bonus dessert: Peach Soup

This is a recipe I invented last year. I was in my apartment and starving. Red bell peppers had recently gone on sale, so I had about a dozen. Plus some pasta like most college kids, a jar of alfredo sauce, and half a bag of shrimp in the freezer. That’s how this came about, and it was so good, it remains one of my favorites.
It’s easy to customize too, you can use any kind of fresh veggies, and if you don’t want meat then you don’t need to add shrimp. Also you can flavor the shrimp with whatever you want. This recipe makes about 4-6 servings.
Ingredients:
1/2 lb linguini
1/2 lb shrimp, thawed
2/3 jar alfredo sauce
1/2 red, yellow and orange bell pepper
1 tbsp butter
pinch Thai spices
garlic powder

Step 1: Boil the noodles in salted water with a tbsp oil to keep the noodles from sticking.

Step 2: Add the butter to a frying pan, begin cooking the shrimp. Add whatever spices you like, and stir occasionally.

Step 3: Once boiled, drain the noodles and return to the pot. Add the alfredo sauce and mix. Set aside.

Step 4: Once the shrimp are pink, with a slight brown crust on both sides, add the diced peppers. Mix and put the lid on, cook for ~5 minutes or until tender.

Step 5: Once cooked, add to the noodles and mix everything well. Enjoy!

 

 

Bonus dessert: Peach Soup
From: Cooking for 2, summer 2008, pg. 25.
1 1/2 cups fresh peaches
1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp almond extract

Blend all ingredients together until smooth, and refrigerate until serving. Add a dash of cinnamon on top. Makes 2 servings.

Peach soup: cold, sweet and refreshing!

Wedding Soup

 

As I was browsing some old cooking magazines one slow day at work, I came across a recipe for wedding soup that sounded absolutely wonderful. Seeing as I had most of the ingredients (though the list is super short anyways) I decided to try it out. Here is my version of it.

Ingredients:

  • 3 carrots
  • 1 head of escarole
  • 1 package frozen spinach
  • 8 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 can cooked chicken
  • 1/2 bag frozen Italian style meatballs (ok, so I took a bit of a shortcut here)
  • black pepper to taste
Here’s the ingredients laid out on a cutting board.
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Step 1: Put a half pot of water on to boil and open up the bouillon cubes and drop them in.
Step 2: Cut the end off the head of escarole and chop into thin strips, maybe 1/2 inch. No real science to it. I diced up the carrots into small pieces, put that in, and added the spinach and the escarole to the pot. I opened the chicken and added in about 1 tbsp black pepper.
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Step 3: Put that on medium-high and let it come to a boil. Then put it on to simmer while I made the noodles. (Yes, I made up for frozen meatballs by making my own noodles!)
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To make the noodles, I mixed about 1 cup flour and 2 eggs in a bowl until dough-like. I then pinched off tablespoon-sized balls of dough one at a time and rolled them with my hands into logs. Then I sliced those into tiny dumplings and boiled them for about 5 minutes.
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Seriously, making your own noodles tastes a million times better than the store! Although it is quite a bit of work. I got maybe a pound out of 2 hours’ work.
The final step is to add the meatballs, put it all together in a bowl and enjoy! It is super healthy (besides the probably astronomical sodium…) and pretty cheap overall to make quite a bit. You should definitely sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top! Next time though, I will add 2 or 3 times as much chicken, because 1 can into a gallon or so of soup gets lost easily.

Cheap and easy comfort food for a crazy week

Between fighting a persistent cough all week, taking the GRE, two jobs, a birthday party and a baby shower, this week and weekend were bound to be hectic. I knew I wanted to make chicken soup to boost my immune system and as comfort food. But for the times when I was not home, I also needed something which traveled and reheated well with minimum expense and fuss.

With the holidays just around the corner, the belt-tightening has intensified in anticipation of gift buying (as well as graduate school application fees!). Therefore, the most logical choice seemed to be pasta. As cheap, tasty and comforting as it gets. So midweek I prepared one large batch of each.

Chicken soup for one: to ward off a cold in a week or less.
2 medium potatoes
2-3 carrots
2-3 stalks celery
1 medium onion
6-10 cups chicken stock or water plus bouillon cubes
1-3 pieces chicken (I used 1 leg quarter)
If you have them or desire them, add sliced fresh mushrooms as well
Optional seasonings: salt, pepper, italian seasons, bay leaf

Dice up the potato and carrot, leave the celery and onion whole. Throw all the ingredients into a crock pot on high for at least 5 hours (to ensure chicken is thoroughly cooked). Spoon solids into a colander. Remove the onion, celery, and any bay leaves if added and throw away.

Separate the chicken from the skin, fat and bones and add meat back to the pot. Add carrots and potatoes back to pot. Boil pasta noodles of your choice to serve with the soup. Enjoy the warm, homey taste and smell.

 

The next day I made a large batch of pasta so that I can pack it in tupperware to take to work. This will last quite a while for me, and may allow a frozen meal or two.
Wheat linguini noodles
1 bag frozen Italian style veggies
1 large can sauce (I used mushroom, which I bought on sale a few weeks ago for 50 cents a can!)

Boil a huge pot of water with a bit of oil and salt added. Toss in the pasta once it is at a rolling boil. Cook the pasta for 8-12 minutes (because wheat needs cooked longer than non-wheat) or until al dente. Add the veggies during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Drain the pasta and veggies and return to the pot. Open the sauce and pour over, mix well. Enjoy!

These both were made with things I had lying about in my cupboards and the freezer. Total, it cost me approximately $2.50 for the pasta, and maybe $2.50 for the soup. So for around $5, I have a full crock pot of healthy homemade chicken soup and a fridge full of about 10 pasta lunches. Not too bad.

Hungarian Chicken Paprikush

 

This is in my top 5 favorite meals of all time!

A Hungarian (or maybe Slovak?) recipe handed down from my grandmother and mother. It is simple to make, just a few ingredients. It does take a bit of time and some labor-intensive steps, however the end product is so worth it!

Finished Chicken Paprikush

The noodles can of course be bought, but making your own noodles is well worth the effort. They taste so much better than any store bought noodles ever could.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken
  • Water
  • Sour cream
  • Flour
  • Paprika
  • Salt & pepper
For this I used 4 chicken leg quarters, because dark meat gives the soup a richer flavor. You can use white, dark, or a mixture of both. Put the chicken in a pot and cover it with water plus a little bit extra. Maybe a gallon and a half of water.
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Boil for at least 2 hours or until chicken is no longer pink at all. Take the chicken out and pull all the meat off the bone. Throw the bones, skin, fat, and any other non-edible parts away and return the meat to the pot. I did this step the night before and refrigerated it until the next day but you can also just continue right into the next step.
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The second step is creating what I think is called a “zapraska”.
This is how you mix in the sour cream without it curdling. The sour cream should be left out at room temperature. Mix about 1 cup sour cream with 2 tbsp. flour (omit the flour if you want watery soup) in a separate bowl. Then slowly add soup to it while mixing continuously.
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The soup will slowly warm up the sour cream. Continue adding and mixing well until it is warm. Then you add the zapraska to the main soup bowl and mix it all together. Add paprika, salt and pepper to taste.
And now for the fun part! You get to make your own noodles. Trust me, it is super duper easy. Honestly, cleaning up afterwards probably takes longer than making them.
Noodles:
  • Eggs
  • Flour
The ratio will depend on how many noodles you need to make. I only needed a small amount, so I used 6 eggs and approximately 1 cup of flour.  You will also need a noodle maker, we call it a “shusher’. I don’t know what it actually is called. If you don’t have one of those, you can always drop the dough with a spoon into the water; this will create larger dumpling like noodles.
Scramble the eggs in a large bowl. Mix the eggs and flour together a little bit at a time. Keep adding flour until it has a doughy consistency. A spoon left in it should basically be able to stand upright.
Get a big pot of water to a rolling boil. Then pour the dough into the top basket of the shusher. Push it back and forth so the dough drips through into the boiling water.
Make sure to stir a few times throughout so that the noodles don’t all stick together. Keep going until all the batter is used up. Drain the noodles completely.
These will be the sweetest, saltiest, most eggy and delicious noodles you may ever have had! Put some into a bowl, and pour the soup and chicken on top. You can add some extra paprika or salt to taste.

 

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Baked Potato Soup

As stated previously, cold weather is made for soups and stews. But you can only throw meat, vegetables and some kind of stock together so many different ways. Sometimes I need a soup of a different texture.

Given that the days of grilling and baked potatoes are slowly fading, I decided to make the soup adaptation of baked potatoes. It is creamy, cheesy, thick and filling. Not to mention it is relatively cheap to make (unless you skip the bacon, but I wouldn’t recommend it).

The way I made it, you will need:

For soup base:
6 medium baking potatoes
3 cups of chicken broth or 3 bouillon cubes (for vegetarian use veggie broth)
Approximately 12 oz cheese (I used marbled cheddar and colby jack)
1/2 block cream cheese

Soup addition:
1 cup milk
1/4 cup cooked bacon
Handful of chives
3 cloves garlic
1/2 small onion
1/2 block cream cheese

Wash and peel the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into quarters and add to 3 cups chicken broth. Either boil for 1 hour, or put on hot in a slow cooker for 4 hours. Then liquefy the cooked potatoes in a blender and put into a soup pot on the stove. Add the cheese and cream cheese and put on low.

While the soup simmers, in a blender combine the milk, chives, bacon, garlic, onion and the rest of the cream cheese. Liquefy all of the ingredients, and then add to the soup pot.

Once the soup simmers and begins to thicken, taste the soup and adjust to your liking. Then if you want to be all fancy, you can serve it with a sprinkle of cheese and bacon, a dollop of sour cream and a piece or two of chives.

Lentil soup

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage
This soup was inspired by the place I waitress at for the soup base (which I forget the fancy name of) and a version which adds sausage. Omit it if you want something vegetarian. It is healthy and hearty, perfect for a nippy fall evening. It makes quite a bit, so be prepared to share, store or eat it for every meal for a few days!
Ingredients:
1 medium potato, diced
2-3 carrots, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
2-3 mild sausages, sliced (omit for vegetarian)
2 cups lentils
3 cups water or stock of your choice
3 celery ribs
1/2 medium onion
4 sprigs parsley
4 cloves garlic
a handful fresh basil
a few tbsp olive oil
black pepper to taste
 
1. In a large pot, get the water or stock boiling.
2. While heating the water, in a blender, combine the celery, herbs, onion, garlic and a few tbsp olive oil and liquefy into a paste. This is the base of the soup, and adds an indescribably fresh and delicious flavor!
3. Add the base to the pot, along with all the veggies and 2 cups of lentils.
4. Brown the sausage (loose or sliced, I cut mine into slices) in a pan. Add those to the pot.
5. Let the whole thing simmer at least 1 hour. Alternatively, you can put all the same ingredients into a Crock Pot on high for 4-6 hours.
6. Enjoy! It tastes even better after sitting in the fridge overnight or a few days!
 

This recipe submitted to the May 2014 “Cooking with Herbs” challenge!

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage

Homemade Minestrone soup

Fall is finally in the air. The temperature is cooling off but the sun still shines. The best season of the year, in my opinion, not too hot but not yet cold. It makes me want apple cider, bonfires, and pumpkin pie.

And my personal favorite thing about the weather cooling off is having soup and stew nearly every day! They are so easy to make, usually the cheapest recipes around, and have endless creative possibility! Look forward to plenty of soup recipes coming up.

So a few days ago, I took stock of my pantry and saw I had 1/2 box of mini shell pasta, a bag of frozen mixed veggies, some potatoes that need used soon, and a can of kidney beans. Add in some garden-fresh tomatoes from a friend’s mother’s garden, and we have inspiration for a minestrone soup!

You’ll need:
1/2 bag frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup mini shells
1 can kidney beans
2 small potatoes
4-5 tomatoes
Garlic
Black pepper
Chicken bouillon cubes (or veggie stock)
6 cups water

Into a large soup pot, pour the water and about 3 chicken bouillon cubes and bring to a boil. Peel the potatoes and dice them finely. Add those in. Dice up the tomatoes, add those. Pour in the can of kidney beans, juice and all, and as much of the vegetables as you want.
Then add in the shells, season and simmer 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. This made about 5 servings for me, 2 of which I ate immediately. The rest was put in the fridge in Tupperware for lunches and dinners throughout the week.
It can also be made in larger batches and frozen for days when you don’t feel like cooking. You can as always experiment with pasta shape, vegetables included, spices, add some tomato paste or basil. Make it your own and enjoy!

Stocking your pantry + Tortilla Soup

To make easy, delicious meals on the cheap and quickly, it is vital to have your pantry stocked with a few key ingredients. These staples are the things which keep for a long time and are versatile in many dishes, like grains and canned foods.

Here is a list of things I always try to keep in the house:

  • Rice (white and/or brown)
  • Potatoes
  • Pasta (various kinds, usually at least one straight pasta and 2 shapes)
  • Bread
  • Eggs

Canned:

  • Tomato sauce, paste
  • Pasta sauce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Corn
  • Green beans
  • Beans (Black, kidney, chickpeas, chili)
  • Tuna
  • Chicken
  • Salsa

One of the best, easiest Crock Pot recipes using cupboard staples I know is Tortilla Soup. It is perfect for a busy day, just open a few cans and throw them in the Crock Pot. You can let it simmer all day, then come home to a hot and filling meal!

Ingredients:
1 can corn
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can of chicken (optional)
1 jar salsa
1 cup cooked white rice
6 cups water
Literally, just dump all the ingredients in the crock pot. I added some dried onion flakes and oregano too. Then just let it simmer until you’re hungry!This tastes great with some cheddar cheese melted on top. You can also fry up some tortillas and put crisps on top. This does make quite a bit, so be sure to have some people to share with, or freeze individual portions for lunches all week.