By Nicole J. Straight
Hurricane Sandy and this weeks Nor’easter Athena have left many of us scrambling to plan well ahead for the family meals. Our personally busy days have been complicated by having kids home for days at a time, visiting the “other” parent out of scheduled times, and just trying to juggle life while dealing with fallen trees, broken hot water heaters, school scheduling changes...(the list of inconveniences goes on and on). It’s the perfect time to make delicious, healthy and budget friendly soups and stews. If you’ve never made a soup from scratch, don’t worry, it is much, much easier than it seems. Below is a list of what to stock in your pantry as well as simple recipes to make ahead and freeze or enjoy with (or without) the kids.
If you’ve never made a soup from scratch, don’t worry, it is much, much easier than it seems. Below is a list of what to stock in your pantry as well as simple recipes to make ahead and freeze or enjoy with (or without) the kids.
32 oz. containers of chicken stock or Better Than Bouillon Stock
Italian Seasoning- in the spice aisle
Bag of lentils
Kosher salt and pepper
Frozen garlic, cilantro and basil
Frozen white or brown rice (available at most supermarkets)
Frozen diced onions
Frozen cheese tortellini
Canned white beans
Canned black beans
Canned diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning
Boneless skinless chicken thighs
Diced carrots and celery (Mirepoix) is available from Trader Joe’s, but you can also
go to any salad bar and buy freshly chopped carrots and celery
A nice chunk of Parmesan cheese for grating
Vegetable Soup (with our without chicken)
1 Tbs. olive oil in a large soup pot. If using chicken, season chicken thighs liberally with salt and pepper on both sides and add to pot. Saute chicken for
2 minutes on medium high heat, then turn and add ½ C. each-frozen diced onions,chopped carrots and celery and 2 cubes each of frozen garlic and basil.
to combine and continue cooking for another minute. In a bowl, rinse ½ C, of lentils, drain and add to the soup pot. Add a 32oz.container of chicken stock or 3 tbs. of Better than Bouillon and 4 cups of water. Add 1 tsp. of Italian seasoning and 1 C. of diced tomatoes with liquid. Bring to a low boil, and add 1 C. drained white beans. Continue cooking for at least 30 minutes. Using 2 forks, pull cooked chicken apart( it will shred easily). Option-
add frozen tortellini if you’d like. Once tortellini float (about 2 minutes), the soup can be eaten with a generous grating of Parmesan Cheese and a simple green salad.
*Note- If you’re going to freeze this soup, don’t add tortellini.
Let soup cool and freeze in 1 C. portions.
Omit the chicken and add 1 C. frozen peas and 1 C. frozen rice for a
Black Beans and Rice
Our family loves beans and rice, either eaten out of a bowl or rolled up in a
tortilla, this dish is a snap to make, freezes beautifully and can easily turn
into black bean soup.
1 tbs. of olive oil in a medium sized nonstick pot. Add 2 cubes each frozen cilantro and garlic. Add ½ C. each- frozen diced onions and chopped carrots and stir to combine. Add 1½ C. black beans, ½ C. diced tomatoes and 1 Tbs. chili powder. Stir and let cook on medium low heat for 20 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and squeeze ½ lime over beans. Microwave rice for 3 minutes before serving. Can be garnished with sour
cream, shredded cheddar cheese or a few chopped jalapenos.
For black bean soup- add 24 oz. chicken stock and cook for at least 20 minutes on a medium boil. Puree with an emulsion blender or enjoy
chunky. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a wedge of lime.
Note- This dish can easily become a vegetarian burrito by adding some chopped lettuce and tomato,and rolling the beans and rice in a flour tortilla. These burritos can be frozen and microwaved for a later date.
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