Soup: A Quick and Inexpensive Meal
I like to save money, but with four kids I’m all about the quick and easy. Soup is a great way to fix a healthy, homemade meal for your family and save both time and money. Soup is easy to make. It can be made out of virtually anything in your refrigerator or pantry. It’s very forgiving. Out of parsnips? Throw in a potato. Have some celery going bad in the crisper? Throw it in! Have a two year-old that loves carrots? Throw some in! Best of all, you can easily make a larger batch of soup for only a little more money. Since soup is generally better the second day anyway, make a double batch and serve it for lunch through the week or even freeze some for a quick weeknight dinner when you aren’t up to cooking.
My favorite soup started out as a way to have the Olive Garden’s Zuppa Tuscana at home. As I played around with the recipe, it became less like the restaurant version and turned into a family favorite. Chock full of leafy, green kale and chunks of potatoes, this soup is inexpensive to make and to cut the cost even further you can use homemade broth and can cut back on the amount of sausage used in the soup. Don’t leave out the sausage though. The flavor of the soup depends mainly on the taste of the sausage so use sausage that you love. We find that the spicier, the better. You add just a touch of cream, just to give it a creamy look, not enough to add a lot of extra fat and calories. You can also use milk if you prefer.
Here are a few more delicious soup recipes to add to your repertoire:
- Simple White Bean Soup from Simple Daily Recipes is quick, easy and filling.
- Sopa Aguada (Mexican Pasta Soup) from What’s Cooking? is simple to make and can easily be adapted to the tastes of your family. Odds are, you have everything to make this one in your pantry right now!
- Bean, Bacon and Chicken Soup from Karin Calloway is another one of our family favorites. I ofen use leftover chicken and whatever bacon I have on hand in this one. Feel free to play around with the proprtions to suit your budget.
- Ecuadorian Locro from She’s Becoming Doughmesstic is a potato soup I made recently and I think it has to be my favorite potato soup recipe of all time. The recipe called for Muenster cheese (which I had in my fridge left over from another recipe.) It added a unique flavor to the soup though I think the recipe would hold up with any other cheese.
- How about a hearty bowl of French Onion Soup? It always hits the spot and can easily be topped with leftover bread and whatever cheese you have on hand. I often use fewer onions than the recipe calls for, depending on how many I have on hand or if onions are on sale that week.
Teresa’s Toscana Soup
4 cups chicken stock or broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more, depending on your tastes)
1 medium russet potato, scrubbed
2-3 cups Kale, chopped
1/2 pound spicy Italian Sausage
1 tablespoon heavy cream (more or less)
Place stock in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add salt and pepper flakes, adjusting for your tastes. More pepper flakes if you prefer a spicier dish, fewer if you don’t.
Cut the un-peeled potato in half, then into 1/4 inch slices and then cut those slices in half and add them to the soup.
Add the kale.
Brown the sausage. Drain and add the sausage to the soup.
Let the soup simmer until the potatoes are soft. Stir occasionally.
Add cream, stir and remove from heat.
Serve immediately topped with Parmesan cheese.
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