With a chill in the air, and evenings chock-o-block full of errands and activities, you may find yourself trying to re-think your evening meal. In search of nutritious meal ideas that are hearty, family-approved, low-maintenance and budget-friendly?
Look no further than a comforting bowl of homemade soup. Paired with crusty loaf of bread, an assortment of cheeses or a leafy salad, homemade soup is a great, quick and healthy meal alternative. Soup can often be done as a vegetarian dish, making use of legumes (which will increase the health quotient and stretch the budget in your home) and is a great way of sneaking extra servings of vegetables and protein into your most reluctant healthy eater.
You can use any variation of beans that you like (I tend to mix in Chickpeas, Black Beans and Navy Beans for different flavour/texture) to create a delicious, hearty meal.
Chop about three cups of veggies (onions, celery, peppers and carrots are always good standbys, and chock full of Vitamin C- a welcome thing as we enter cold and flu season). In a stock pot, sauté in a little olive oil until softened. Rinse two cans of your favourite type of beans.
Add beans, along with about three cups of your preferred broth (chicken, veggie or beef all work well) and bring to boil. Add about a quarter cup of tomato sauce (or a can of tomatoes, drained, and about a tsp each of chili powder, garlic powder and cumin. Simmer for about 15 minutes, and transfer in batches to a blender or food processor to puree.
Depending on your spice tolerance, top with diced jalapenos or crushed red chili. A dollop of sour cream and some minced cilantro is nice as well.
Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle
This is a Sunday afternoon special, to simmer away and then be re-heated later in the week. After rinsing the cavity and removing any giblets, season a medium-sized whole roaster chicken and roast in a 350 oven for about an hour (maybe more, depending on the size of the bird).
Let chicken cool, and remove meat from bones for later use. Cover bones in water in stock pot. Add about two cups of chopped carrots, celery and onions, bring to boil.
Reduce heat, add a couple of bay leaves and a dash of salt and pepper. I also season mine with about a tsp of sage as well. Let broth simmer until about half reduced (it should look, taste and smell like chicken broth), usually over a couple of hours.
Remove bay leaves and add fresh chopped parsley.
Prior to eating, boil about two cups worth of egg noodles, according to package directions. Add noodles and chopped, cooked chicken, and continue to simmer until heated through.
Curried Lentil Sausage Soup
There is something about lentils that just embraces the flavour of curry.
Remove casing from about a half a pound of sausage. Brown sausage and drain. Meanwhile chop a medium carrot, a couple of cloves of garlic and a medium onion and sauté in a little bit of olive oil.
Rinse two cans of lentils and add in stock pot with sautéed veggies and sausage. Cover with broth (probably about four cups worth). Add a dash of salt and pepper, and then two tsp curry powder (more depending on your taste for space, or if kids are enjoying the soup as well).
Simmer until ingredients are heated through and flavours are blended (about 20-30 mins).
Enjoy as is, or puree in batches in blender or food processor for thicker texture.