January is National Soup Month!
How many times do we look in the refrigerator and think “What in the world am I going to make for dinner?” This is where the concept of soup becomes a time and energy saver. It’s nutritious, money saving and calorie conscious. A box of stock, some vegetables, pasta or left over grains such as rice, and protein that can come from garbanzo beans, cut up chicken or frozen turkey meatballs. We are in business.
At some point get boxes of stock when they go on special. They come in many flavors including beef , chicken, and vegetarian. Always have fresh celery and carrots in the refrigerator. Stock pasta in different shapes and varieties – check out the new high protein pastas and rice pastas. Left over cooked meat in any form goes in the freezer for times like this and for vegetarians keep some tofu and canned beans handy.
Grab the vegetables adding any that look ready to leave this world (not spoiled just a little past their prime) and start chopping into small pieces. Add some potatoes if you like. If you live alone use this as a time to relax and focus on the delicious meal ahead. If you live with family or friends, this is the time to get them involved.
This is a judgement call not a strict recipe. So decide how much stock is appropriate, pour in about an inch or two and use it to steam the chopped vegetables and to defrost any cooked items from the freezer.
Now comes the fun part, raid your pantry and decide if you want to add a can of diced tomatoes, chopped garlic, black beans, or some fire roasted chilies. If you need ideas, try The 99 Cent Chef for a delicious French Onion soup or some turkey and black bean chili recipe. He shops cheap but the meals taste expensive.
This is your creation. Make it a soup or use less stock and make it a stew or chili. Put out some Parmesan or Cheddar cheese to sprinkle on top. Have some bread handy. Stay cozy for the chilly nights ahead.