Wednesday, August 31

Animal Crackers in My Soup!

Fall is around the corner and 'tis time for me to make that delicious brew that goes with just about anything toasty on a cool day...baked potatoes, sweet potato french fries, garlic bread, grilled cheese? How about a panini?  Oh boy, am I getting hungry.  Sometimes plain little oyster crackers or goldfish crackers are the best.  They are simple and happy just floating in a rainbow of veggies, beans, and noodles. 

This soup is a staple in my freezer most of the time.  It is an easy balanced meal for my Lily.
To make this simple, yummy soup, fill a large 6-8 qt. kettle 1/2 to 2/3 full of chicken broth (organic or low sodium is best.)  I use about 3 containers of broth...the flip top box kind. 
As the broth warms up, add a few shakes of whatever herbs and spices you fancy, eyeball it or add enough to float on the broth to look half way covered.  I add basil, parsley, celery seed, and a mix like Lawry's salt.  Don't worry if you over do it, as I also add 2-4 cups of water now as well.  Sometimes, I add an onion, simply halved, just for flavor.  Just cut it and let it sink to the bottom like a rock.  I save the entire cooked onion as a treat for Grammy.  She just loves onions!  Then as the broth gets even warmer, I start adding the ingredients I like--a plain 12-16oz can of small diced tomatoes, a 12-16oz can of kidney beans (rinsed), a 12-16oz can of black beans(rinsed), and then a few packets of Stevia sweetener (or few tablespoons of sugar if you prefer) to cut down the tanginess of the tomatoes.  You can use whatever beans you like, or omit them and use diced chicken.  Then as the water starts to boil, I add a large bag of frozen mixed vegetables, not the small bag of 16 ounces, but a bag maybe twice that size.  Again, use whatever veggies you like.  Stir the pot a little and after the soup is boiling, I add 1/2 box of any noodle in the pantry.  I like to use the mixed veggie kinds, for that extra oomph of nutrition.  Turn down the heat to simmer.  Stir occasionally.  If you use the whole box of noodles, your soup may turn into stew.  So just stick with 1/2 a box.  Sometimes, you can add a cup of orzo and the noodles as well.
Turn off the heat when the noodles are soft to eat.  Taste and add extra seasonings as needed.
After the soup cools a bit, ladle into small storage containers to freeze.

These hinged flip type lids are a new thing I am trying.  I think I prefer the regular snap on type instead of these.  Again, use whatever you like.

After they are frozen completely, on any day, these single serving size are perfect for a quick meal.  They are so easy to defrost in just minutes.  Simply run warm or hot water over the bottom of the frozen soup bowl until it loosens.  Then put the soup/ice block into a ceramic/glass microwave safe bowl.  Cover with a sheet of wax paper and defrost or cook until thawed and hot.  Or just until warm if you are serving for a child.  If it is too hot, I simply add an ice cube or two and let them stir it.  That simple procedure is so fun for kids.  Add some crackers and a side dish of fruit and cheese, and voila!  My kid is happy with this nutritious, allergy friendly, less than 30 minutes meal.  Beat that Rachael Ray!  :)


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