As promised last week, here is our new family favorite soup recipe. This soup came about after a shopping trip to Grocery Outlet. I discovered a bunch of cool looking ingredients I’ve not seen before. Notably, This Parmesan Brodo broth. It’s OMG so amazing. It adds what foodies call “Depth of Flavor”.
This soup is super quick and easy to make.
2 T. butter
1 c. onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1.5 c. celery, chopped (if you are like me and wonder why celery is so expensive, here’s the answer)
Earlier in the week I made beef stew. It was so good that I had a hard time waiting the full 10 hours until dinner to dish myself up a bowl! I cooked it on the stove, but it can definitely be cooked in a crockpot after the initial browning of the meat.
I based my recipe on my mom’s boeuf bourguignon recipe, but I omitted the bacon, as we didn’t have any in the house.
1.5 cups white onions, diced
3/4 cup each carrots and celery, diced
1 cup white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (tops only, stems may be discarded or saved for a later use)
Sunday Night I went to the grocery store to pick up milk, bread, and a few other things.
I spent $42 and it was not all that much stuff. While I was waiting in line, the lady behind me in line was going through her coupons, and her grocery list. We got to talking, I showed her the store app, where she was able to find a few more coupons. We started talking about how expensive it was to eat healthy, and I confessed to her that this was not my weekly shopping trip, I was just picking up stuff that I only buy at Food4Less:
Milk (it’s cheapest at FFL),
A specific kind of higher protein bread (it’s the cheapest place to buy this type of bread and has no High Fructose Syrup),
A specific kind of popscicles
5 lb bag of bananas (cheapest place to buy that many bananas)
And I picked up a few other misc. things that we needed and were on sale (cheese, oranges, and a 5 lb. bag of Gala apples), and a 2 liter of diet Cherry Pepsi and a jar of maraschino cherries (Mama needs a cocktail sometimes, OK?).
She asked about my grocery budget and where I shop the rest of the time. I told her my shopping strategy, after I make my grocery list:
My Top Ten Deals at 99 Cents Only– Start there for fresh produce. Salad, carrots, celery, berries, pineapples, zucchini, squash (all kinds), onions, potatoes are all types of produce that are regularly stocked. They usually have other interesting seasonally available produce too. They also have great sauces, condiments, herbs and spice blends.
Keep a Price Book- I know the best place to buy Milk, cheese, bread, and butter. I keep my price book in my phone now, but I used to use a little spiral bound notebook that lived in my purse.
Stock up on food that you will eat frequently when it does on sale. I’m not talking about fresh produce that can’t be kept (like lettuce), but if you find a good deal on strawberries, for example, chop and freeze some for smoothies or baking, make fruit leather, or dry some (they are really tasty dehydrated). Bread can be frozen, so can butter! Canned goods, shelf stable foods are perfect for stocking up. I also like stocking up on chicken when it’s on sale. I can butcher a whole chicken in a few minutes, and I frequently will break up large packages of chicken breasts into meal sized portions, season them, and put them into the freezer. Learn more about meal prep here.
For our family, meal prep and meal planning saves us a lot of time and money. There are always multiple choices for each meal at our finger tips, so the allure of getting food from take-away is gone. I always have a batch of pizza dough in the freezer too! I make two batches once a week- one for the freezer, and one to go in the fridge that gets used within 1-2 days of making.
I love making chicken soup from scratch. The cook time is lengthy, but, you don’t have to pay a lot of attention to the soup for most of the cook time.
You can use whatever kind of spices/herbs you fancy. I love Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming, it’s a great smoky, rich compliment to the veggies in the soup.
Speaking of veggies, I use carrots, onions, celery, Italian squash/zucchini, but you can use whatever is in your fridge. Good additions would also be diced bell peppers, diced fresh tomatoes (or canned diced tomatoes).
You can omit the noodles/macaroni is you don’t care for them or are GF/low carb.
5 lbs of chicken parts, bone-in or a rotisserie chicken with some of the meat removed and set aside
2 cups of carrots chopped, divided
2 cups of celery chopped, divided
3 cups sweet onion diced, divided
2 cloves garlic diced, divided
1 large shallot diced, divided
1T. cooking oil, your choice. I’ve been using grapeseed oil lately
12 cups of water
salt & pepper
2 cups Italian squash/zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 14-ish ounce can of diced tomatoes with juice, or 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes (optional)
other herbs/spices as desired
1 cup uncooked pasta/noodles/rice (your choice)
If starting with 5 lbs of raw chicken, place 1/2 of the carrots, onions, and celery into a large stock pot with the cooking oil.
Cook on medium until veggies are soft, and onions are clear.
Add 1/2 of the garlic and shallots, and cook until fragrant.
Add raw chicken, and cook for about 10 minutes, until chicken browns.
Turn stove down to low, add 12 coups of water, bay leaf, salt & pepper, and cover. Cook stock on low for about 4-6 hours- you can cook it for up to 12 hours in your crockpot if you wish instead). Pull out a few pieces of chicken, pull off the cooked meat and set aside (you want about 2 cups of chopped cooked meat). Put bones back into the pot. Cook for another 20-30 minutes.
Take the stock off the heat, and once cool, strain off the solids, and discard. The remaining liquid is your chicken stock. While you start with 12 cups of water, after cooking the stock down, you may end up with 6-8 cups of rich, velvety stock.
Place chicken stock on the stove in a large pot, add in chopped chicken, remaining veggies, and any herbs/spices.
Once veggies have started to soften/cook, add noodles/macaroni/rice if desired. Salt and pepper to taste.
As soon as noodles/macaroni/rice is cooked, remove soup from heat. Serve with hot bread (and butter).
*If you are starting with a rotisserie chicken, pull off 2 cups of meat, and add the carcass after the veggies are cooked and fragrant. proceed with remainder of recipe.
WHAT? Pasta free lasagna? Are you nuts? I know that’s what you are all thinking, but bear with me.
I know so many people are sticking to their New Years Resolutions of eating healthy, but they are longing for the warm, cheesy, rich gooey-ness of their favorite comfort foods. Mr. just finished a 10 day cleanse, and we are slowing adding things back into his diet. He missed cheese, so I set to find a recipe that contains cheese that I could make a little more healthy by omitting some of the other things that he isn’t quite ready to add back in (meat and lots of heavy carbs). I did make spaghetti to go on the side, but you can skip that if you want.
We had a bag of yellow squash in the fridge, so I decided to make lasagna using the squash in the place of the lasagna noodles.
With this recipe, you can add as many veggies as you want. I opted for mire poix (I had bags of it prepped in the freezer), garlic, shallots, tomatoes, and little pieces of the squash that I chopped into bite size pieces. These were the neck or end that I couldn’t cut into planks. I recommend that you use what you’ve got on hand that you really like. You can add ricotta between the layers, but I skipped it because we didn’t have any, and Mr. isn’t ready to add eggs back in yet (if you’ve never made lasagna before, the ricotta filling is a mixture of egg, Parmesan cheese, and ricotta).
This recipe makes a big 9×13 inch baking dish- There will be leftovers!
Pasta Free Lasagna
4 yellow or green crooked neck squash (zucchini), cut into planks, Reserve remaining pieces for sauce
1 jar sugar free pasta sauce (or use your favorite)
2 medium onions or 1 large onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
1 can (approx. 14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 bay leaf
2 T. Italian seasonning
2 T. Olive oil
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup parmesaen cheese
2 cups Italian blend cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a large stock pot, saute onions, celery, and carrots in olive oil until onions are soft and translucent.
Add garlic and shallots, reduce heat. Cook until garlic and shallots are soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid burning. Burnt garlic is gross.
Pour wine over veggies and scrape any yummy brown bits off the bottom of the pot. This is called De-glazing the pan. Those brown bits are full of flavor.
Add pasta sauce, herbs, and both cans of tomatoes (diced and paste). Cook on medium for 15-20 minutes. If you want, you can simmer the sauce on low for as long as you want. Make sure to stir frequently and put a lid on the pot.
Add reserved squash bits to sauce. They will cook quickly, so you need to add them last.
Remove from heat.
Ladle sauce in the bottom of the 9×13 baking dish, just enough to cover the bottom of the dish.
Cover the sauce with planks of squash, then layer cheese, and sauce. repeat until the pan is full- the top layer should be cheese. If you like lots of cheese, use more than the 2 1/2 cups listed above.
Cover pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350. after 20 minutes, uncover pan and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until cheese is brown and bubbly.
Remove from oven and let rest for about 10 minutes.
Serve with salad and a small portion of whole wheat pasta. I made whole wheat pasta and topped it with a dollop of Chef Shamy Garlic Butter. It’s amazing.
Variations: This meal is already vegetarian and gluten free. If you are vegan, use dairy free cheese. I cannot promise it will be as gooey and delicious, as I’m not familiar with how dairy free cheese cooks.
If you just gotta have meat, start by sauteing 1 lb of ground meat (beef, pork, chicken, or turkey), then continue the recipe as written.