Category Archives: Soups

Less than 5: Quick Miso Soup

 

I am a huge fan of most all Japanese foods, especially sushi. As evidenced from my ill-fated attempts at Salmon Nigiri and Lazy Won-Ton Soup, I am by no means a Japanese chef. But I do try, so I feel like I get some credit for that.

This is my super fast and easy imitation miso soup. Keep in mind I had no miso paste, which kinda makes the soup… so if you do, add that! If not, this is sort of close. You will need some specialized ingredients, but honestly most common grocery stores like King Soopers are now carrying similar items in their “ethnic” section.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1 tbsp duck paste (you can use chicken bouillon too)
  • 2-3 sheets seaweed
  • 1/2 block tofu
  • Optional: 1 pack ramen noodles

IMG_4837

Step 1: Slice the tofu into small squares. Cut the seaweed into strips. Slice all the green part of the scallions diagonally.

IMG_4838

Step 2: Bring the water to a boil and stir in the duck paste or chicken bouillon. Add the scallions, seaweed, and tofu. And that’s it!

IMG_4839

This soup is delightfully salty and packs a heavy umami punch.

IMG_4840

Add some glass or ramen noodles for extra filling power. You can have this soup as an appetizer, part of a light lunch, or as a whole meal. Quite healthy, if you’re ok with a high-ish sodium content… you can omit the bouillon but the taste will suffer.

Simple Chicken Soup – SNAP meal

 

This is a super simple soup made from the vegetables I could afford, and a few chicken drumsticks which were on sale. It doesn’t take much to make a delicious, warming pot of soup. It’s healthy, cheap, and keeps you from getting sick (or sicker). It’s science.

Ingredients:

  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 potatoes, diced
  • 1/3 cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 2 chicken drumsticks
  • About 10 cups water
  • Garlic salt to taste

IMG_5137

You can see here my meals for the day, planned out and packed to go. Oatmeal with a cut up apple for breakfast, a leftover stuffed pepper for lunch, and soup in the crock pot for dinner.

IMG_5138

Chicken often goes on sale, sometimes for as little as 88 cents per pound. When you find a really great deal, snag some extra to freeze for future use.

Step 1: Cut up all your veggies.

Step 2: Put them in a pot with the water, rice, lentils, and chicken, leave in crock pot on low for 4-8 hours. Or, you can simmer in a pot on the stove for 1-3 hours.

IMG_5141

This whole pot of soup is only $1.25! Plus a negligible amount from the water used and garlic salt. I ended up having about five servings, meaning each huge steaming bowl was only $0.25!

Soup is a great catch-all, you can add in any leftover vegetable odds and ends from the refrigerator. Same goes for odds and ends of meat. Meat with bones will give the broth extra flavor. This is a great use for a whole chicken, enjoy the meat other ways, then use the bones for soup stock. It’s just one more way to squeeze every last penny out of your food dollars.

 

**UPDATE: The SNAP Challenge is complete, with many lessons learned! All SNAP Meal Recipes listed below:

Slow Cooker Red Pozole with Pork

 

So I’ve been tutoring a high school kid in Biology for a year. He’s great, as are his parents. And his mother is a large part Native American. She is an amazing cook, I often show up to tutor and/or leave to tempting smells wafting from the kitchen. They are kind enough to ask me to share their dinner with them quite often.

As I love cooking myself, typically I have dinner already started in the Crock pot or at least plans, so I decline. However, one night she was serving up this thick, red stew that smelled too irresistible. This was my first introduction to pozole.

IMG_2065

Pozole means “foamy”; also spelled “pozolli” or “posole”. It is a traditional stew originally from Mexico, which once had ritual significance due to its use of maize, called hominy. The word “hominy” comes from the Powhatan language word for prepared maize. (Maize is corn).

Hominy is a very interesting thing. To make it, you take regular corn kernels, dry it, and then treat it with an alkaline agent to break down the cellulose in the corn. The result is puffy, chewy, soft kernels that look a little bit like corn-shaped popcorn.

Well, this tomato-pork-hominy stew was unlike anything I’d ever had, so of course I had to ask for the recipe. She had gotten it from the Denver Post a few years back, and was more than happy to share it with me.

red posole with pork

The red pozole with pork is the recipe I used and show here, but there is also one for Green Pozole with Chicken. I’ll save that for another day.

IMG_1883

I wanted to try this right away, but I forced myself to be patient. Normally I just center my grocery shopping around sales, but this time I kept an eye out for the ingredients I needed. Anytime I want to make something with a unique or expensive ingredient I try to wait to maximize my food dollars. As soon as I saw hominy on sale at the local Save-A-Lot I snagged a can.

As is my way, I took the recipe, tweaked it a bit to what I like and what I had in the house, and it turned out wonderful! I don’t like spicy foods, so I left out the peppers, but I did throw in a pinch of dried chipotle pepper to keep the Native American feel of the recipe. If you want to go all the way and buy the exact spices called for, be my guest. But I omitted the Mexican oregano, and used regular paprika, not Spanish. I also added a can of red beans for extra fiber and filling power.

Slow cooker red pozole with pork:

  • 1.4 pound pork roast
  • 2-3 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • Pinch chipotle pepper
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 whole white onion, diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • 1 can red beans, drained
  • 1 29oz can hominy
  • 6 chicken bouillon cubes and ~24 oz water
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 bottle beer (Colorado native)

IMG_2048

Step 1: In slow cooker, mix flour, beer, spices, diced onion, and tomato.

IMG_2049

Step 2: Heat water in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, dissolve the bouillon cubes and add to crock pot. Or just use chicken stock.

IMG_2050

Step 3: Dice the pork roast into bite-sized cubes. I had a 1.4-pound roast defrosted, so I used that. But you could use chops also.

IMG_2052

Peel or cut off fatty pieces to make it more lean.

IMG_2053

Step 4: Add the pork and hominy to the slow cooker. Cook on low 6-8 hours, or high 2-4 hours.

IMG_2062

The finished product is a complex but light stew, with an amazing depth of flavor. You can obviously add more spice to your taste, but I loved it the way it was. I also didn’t have ground cumin, so the little pieces were annoying at the bottom, but the flavor they added was worth it.

IMG_2066

I made some biscuits to serve with the posole, and my s.o. loved it too. The recipe suggests shredded cabbage, radish, cilantro, cheese, or sour cream as garnishes. If you add extra flour or cornstarch you can make it thicker, add more stock to make it more soup-like.

 

What’s your favorite slow cooker meal?

 

 

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup Bread Bowl

Broccoli cheddar soup is definitely one of my favorite go-to soups. It is relatively easy and quick to make, and I almost always have frozen broccoli on hand. I’ve tried several ways, adding and taking out ingredients as I had them available, but this batch was the best by far. It was thick, smooth, and creamy, with a perfect balance of flavors. I had some large bread rolls, so I hollowed them out to use as bread bowls, and it was a perfect meal. Try it yourself!
 
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups chicken stock (veggie stock for veg/vegan)
  • 1 cup milk (plant milk for veg/vegan)
  • 1 cup frozen broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 3-4 tbsp butter/margerine
  • Salt & black pepper
 

Step 1: In a sauce pot, bring butter, chicken stock, and milk to a simmer. Cook the broccoli for 5-10 minutes in a pan or microwave, until heated through and soft.

Step 2: In a blender, combine the soup, spices, cheese, and sour cream. [You can use an immersion blender if you’re fancy enough to have one]. Reserve 1 cup if you want broccoli chunks in the finished soup. Blend until smooth and return to the pot. Heat through, about 5 minutes.

Step 3: Hollow out a large round bread roll by cutting at an angle with a sharp knife all along the edges. Pull the middle out, and fill with hot soup. Sprinkle a little cheddar on top, and enjoy!


This soup was so good I had to have two bowls. Luckily the bread roll was big enough that I had plenty left for dipping. If you’d like to make this vegetarian soup vegan, just use a plant milk and omit the cheese, or maybe use some vegan cheese product instead.

 
What’s your favorite soup to eat in a bread bowl?

 

Less than 5: Big-kid Ramen

Another in my “Less than 5” recipe series. All recipes beginning with that title will have less than 5 ingredients and/or cost less than $5. Bonus for ones that also take less than 5 minutes. =)
 
Ramen used to be the greatest after-school snack ever. Then in college, it was pretty much a daily staple. At 10-20 cents per pack, the good people of Ramen keep poor college kids worldwide from starving. When I started graduate school, and started taking this blog more seriously, I figured Ramen was no longer part of my life. I had graduated to frittatas, lasagna, and white bean chicken chili. Big kid food. 
But then in my masters study, my Taiwanese advisor had Ramen for lunch nearly every day. She just fancied it up by adding a handful of fresh spinach and an egg. Well of course I had to try it, as the chicken-salt smell of Ramen is hard to resist. Adding veggies ups the nutritional value (which previously was negative zero) and an egg or tuna will bump up the protein.

It turns out to make a decently healthy meal, for way less than a dollar per serving. Ever since then, when I have a random Ramen craving, I give in with the justification that at least it’s “big kid” Ramen. Now you can too!

 
Ingredients:
  • 1 package Ramen noodles
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables or spinach
  • Optional: 1 egg, thinly sliced meats, shrimp, tuna
  • Spices (I used parsley, parmesan, and red chili pepper for kick)

Step 1: Heat the noodles and 2-3 cups water for 3 minutes in the microwave, or pour in boiling water. Let stand for 3 minutes.

Step 2: Add the vegetables and egg. Break the yolk so it doesn’t explode. Microwave another 3 minutes.

Step 3: Stir in seasoning packet and spices, enjoy!

The chili flakes gave it a nice bite of heat, and I like the frozen mixed veggies because of the corn and carrots’ sweetness. You can get creative with this. Use tofu, beans, tuna, chicken. Any cooked vegetable will work well. I’m partial to the chicken flavoring only, but there are beef and shrimp flavorings too.

For 0.10 (noodles) + 0.10 (egg) + 0.10 (frozen veg) = $0.30 

Not a bad meal!


What do you put in your Ramen?

Under 100 Calories per Bowl: Cruciferous Vegetable Soup

 

I’m always a big fan of recipes that help “clean out the fridge or pantry“, and if they are healthy as well then bonus! We all have some assorted cans, boxed, half bag of frozen mixed vegetables, etc. that have been sitting around since approximately we moved into whatever abode we inhabit.

Even the most strict, list-making, meal-planning, leftover-eating of us have odds and ends we need to try to use up before expiration dates. It is especially hard with produce. I have a bad habit of buying everything that’s on sale, I want to cook eventually, sounds healthy… and then I have a fridge packed full of five-day-old veggies beginning to wilt and lose nutrients. Sad face. 

That’s why this soup is fantastic! You can mix and match what vegetables you add based on what you have waiting to be used, and choose whatever protein and grain is in the half-empty box in your cupboard. There is of course a few caveats.

You need a huge ratio of veggies to other stuff, and a large portion of it must be water IF you are going for a filling, vegetarian, healthy, low-cal, low-fat soup.

Try to choose mostly cruciferous vegetables and/or leafy greens, as those pack the most nutrients and fiber for the least carbs and calories. Cruciferous vegetables include cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc. Limit the beans and grains to one cup each to keep calorie counts low. If you have a “meat tooth” feel free to throw in some cooked shredded chicken or steak.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/2 bunch kale, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup barley
  • 1 cup pinto beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • Garlic salt
  • Lots of water (stock or bouillon for extra flavor)

Step 1: Chop all your veggies and add to the crock pot. Add the grain (barley) and protein (beans) as well as diced tomatoes. You can sub fresh chopped tomato or tomato sauce, or forget the tomatoes. I just super love diced tomatoes in all the things.

Step 2: Cook on low for 4-6 hours, until veggies, barley and beans are tender. Add any other seasonings you like. Enjoy for under 100 calories per bowl as often as you are hungry!


*Disclaimer: I do not recommend crash diets like the cabbage soup diet where this is all you eat all day, but I do believe that soup before a full meal will help dampen hunger and make it easier to eat healthy and manage a healthy weight, and broth based soups should be incorporated into your meal plans to keep total grocery costs for the week low.

Crazy fast curried carrot soup

This dish happened because I had some squash that needed used up, and was in the mood for a thick winter vegetable stew. But I didn’t want just acorn squash soup, so I added bunches of carrots for color and lots of spices for flavor.

Ingredients:
1 acorn squash
1/2 cup milk
1 bag frozen carrots (or 1 bunch fresh)
Squirt of sriracha
2 tbsp garam masala
1 cup chicken broth

 
Step 1: Cut the squash in half and pull out seeds with a spoon. Put some water in the middle and microwave on high for five minutes. Flip upside-down and microwave another 5 minutes.
Step 2: The squash should be soft, remove the skin and smash in a bowl. It looks a bit like applesauce at this point.

Step 3: Put the squash in a blender with the milk, stock, spices, and carrots. If using fresh carrots, boil them or microwave for 10 minutes first so they are softened. Blend it all together.

There you have it, a simple thick stew with TONS of vitamins, fiber, and beta-carotene. Enjoy with a winter greens salad or some fresh bread.



French Onion Soup

Soups have been around since fire was invented and we figured out water could be boiled. It is no surprise, since there are endless combinations and variations, and soup is the simplest method of cooking a filling, healthy meal in one pot. Onions have also long been a cooking staple: they grow well in most soils, they are easy to store long-term, they are cheap and filling and versatile. It was only a matter of time before onions in soup became popular, at least as early as the Roman Empire. The most popular version is a meat-broth-based soup with carmelized onions, most often topped with some sort of bread and melted cheese. It is rumored that the version of French Onion Soup as we know it was invented in the 18th century by King Louis VX of France. Hence the name “French” Onion Soup.

The most commonly accepted version involves carmelizing the onions in butter by cooking them for a long time to make them soft, translucent, and sweet. Then a broth is added, most often beef broth. A crusty bread, or ‘crouton’ is placed on top, and covered in cheese, most often gruyére. The soup is then gratineéd, meaning it is baked in a ramekin, then served immediately. However there are of course infinite variations, some add brandy or sherry or wine, some recipes use plain water rather than broth, the type of onion and amount may differ, you could use a Crock Pot all day rather than boiling on the stove, any type of bread or cheese may be used, or bread and/or cheese could be omitted entirely. This version is what I had handy and the flavors that I most wanted.


Legend has it that the first French Onion Soup was created by King Louis the XV of France when all that could be found in the pantry of his hunting party’s lodge was butter, onions and champagne.  It is said that he combined these ingredients to create the first French Onion Soup.  It is unclear if this story is myth of fact, but it is a good story none the less!
Onions have been a popular staple in preparing meals from at least as far back as the Roman Times.  Onions are easily grown in most soils they are cheap abundantly available and have a long shelf-life.  For this reason onions were seen as The Poor Man’s food.
The modern version of the soup has evolved from a basic recipe where onions were sliced, fried and then cooked in water and would typically be served with bread and capers.  It was only in the nineteenth century that cooks started adding flour, salt and pepper and topped the soup with cheeses such as Gruyere.
Today French Onion Soup Recipes is often made with caramelized onion in a meaty broth.  This is often served in individual ramekins and topped with grilled Gruyere cheese.  Try Chef Billy’s take on this time-honored dish – ideal for keeping the chills at bay on those cold winter nights!
– See more at: http://kitchen.net/blog/the-story-of-french-onion-soup/#sthash.4qSbyr89.dpuf



Ingredients:
6 onions
8 cups water/stock
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup Worchestershire 
Pinch of Thyme
Pinch of pepper
Pinch of sugar
2 bay leaves
Nice crusty French bread
Sliced Parmesan cheese

 Step 1: Cut up all the onion into thin slices. Melt the butter in a frying pan and add all the onions.

 Cook slowly over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 30-60 minutes. The onions will become brown & carmelized, and smell wonderful.

 Step 2: Add the water broth, bay leaves, sauce, sugar, and other seasonings. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1-2 hours.

 This smells fantastic. At this point if you wanted to add some white or red wine, sherry, or brandy you could. You could also simmer for pretty much all day if you want the flavors to melt together more.

 Step 3: Put a slice (or 2 or 3) of crusty bread on top, and cover with cheese. If you have oven-safe ramekins, you can bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is brown and bubbly. I didn’t trust these bowls in the oven, so I just microwaved 30 seconds to get the melty-cheese effect.

This soup is complex, warm, and delicious, perfect on a cold night. Depending on what you want to add and how long you let it simmer, a hot, impressive dinner could be on the table within an hour.

Free e-Cookbook

Don’t forget to check out my ecookbook, 7 Souper Soups, and get your free copy! The next edition will have to include this recipe…

Crockpot White Bean Chicken Chili

Chili is definitely in my top ten favorite winter dishes. I suppose really all year, but especially in winter it’s nice to cook up a hot batch of thick, delicious chili to enjoy at the end of a chilly day. (See what I did there?)

There are also endless variations, from vegetarian chili, to Skyline chili like in southwest Ohio (go to Columbus or Cincinnati and have some if you don’t know what I’m talking about), chili over noodles, meatless chili, bean-less chili, sweet chili… you get the idea.

There are chili cook-offs all over the nation, there is even an International Chili Society. That’s how serious some people take this stuff. Their webpage explaining the history of chili is pretty fascinating.

Now, hardcore chili con carne people who believe beans have no place in chili and pasture raised longhorn beef is the only meat good enough to earn the name, will not like my laissez faire approach to chili. I’ve been known to throw in all manner of vegetables, use various preparations of tomatoes besides juice, and use all kinds of types of meat.

This version is a kind of white bean chicken chili, but it got a little Jen makeover, as most things coming through my kitchen do.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with chilies
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can navy beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • Dash chili powder
  • Optional: 1/2 cup milk

 

Step 1: Spray the Crockpot and add the chicken breasts. Turn it on low.

Step 2: In a blender or food processor, liquefy the can of kidney beans (or any other type really. This just adds a thicker, creamier texture) after you drain the can. Add water or some milk if you need to.

Step 3: Add the liquid beans plus all the other cans, milk, and any spices you want. (Garlic, onion, hot sauce, etc)

Step 4: Cook on high 4 hours or low 4-6. Take the chicken breasts out and shred them with two forks. Put back into the chili, stir and let sit another hour or eat immediately.

Top with whatever you like. I used plain Greek yogurt and shredded cheese, but salsa, cornbread, or avocado would also be delicious.

This chili is such a perfect combination of creamy and light. It has just a hint of spice from the diced tomatoes with chilies, but you could kick it up a notch easily by adding jalapenos or other peppers, or sprinkling on some hot sauce.

You could also use two cans white beans, kidney, black beans, whatever you have in the pantry. I’d really recommend not skipping the pureeing though, it totally adds that little ‘something’. I had leftovers for three days, and was not upset about it!

What’s your favorite kind of chili?

Soups for the Super Bowl

 

Happy Super Bowl Sunday, world! 
Today the Denver Broncos meet the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife stadium in New Jersey, far from either team’s hometown. And in case you missed it, yes, both teams are from state which have recently legalized marijuanna. However, the game is not being played in a state which has that legalized, so fans beware. Also, I’ve never heard it being accused of enhancing performance in sports, so anyone who thinks that is unfair clearly doesn’t know its effects.

Photo from the Up & Under Pub website
 

Regardless of who you are rooting for, you are likely either at home with a huge buffet of finger foods, or going to a pub/bar with copious amounts of burgers, chicken wings, beer, and french fries. And, may I say, I am jealous. Since I will be home, working on a midterm exam for my neuroscience course. Nonetheless, as a Denver transplant, I think I’m legally obligated to say, Go Broncos
.
Once the game is over, and the dreaded Monday rolls back around, all the office gossip will be who caught what pass, how many touchdowns were scored, and which commercials were the funniest/best/worst. And it’s likely many will have a bar food/beer/ buffet hangover.

The Big News!

Not to worry, just in time for the Super Bowl I’ve rolled out my first ever e-cookbook, and this one’s on the house! Seven Souper Soups, packed with recipes like my spicy Mexican-inspired Chicken Tortilla, the classic winter Butternut Squash Soup, hearty yet healthy Sausage and Kale, thick & creamy Baked Potato and more! Including a bonus Peach dessert soup, and cover drawing by Mike over at WebDonuts comics.

So if you would like a copy of 7 Souper Soups for your very own, I’ve added it to my Google Docs and made it public for anyone to view and comment on: 

You can also email me at BudgetEpicurean (at) gmail.com and I will send you the PDF as an attachment. I hope you enjoy these favorite recipes of mine and share with family & friends. Enjoy today’s festivities, and keep coming back for more! There are several projects in the works, so keep an eye out.