I (Krista) love this time of year. I like the cold feeling of being outside then coming into a warm place. I also love the homemade goodness that soups and stews serve up on cold days. As most people these days, we are on a budget, so that means you’ve gotta get creative to not sacrifice quality for cost. Most of these recipes have several winning points for me, which can be summed up briefly.
- Quantity – It makes plenty to be able to feed others and yourself. It’s great to be able to invite others over without much prep because you know there will be enough. If you have leftovers they can be sealed and frozen for another day, saves time and money.
- Quality – Nutritious, most of these recipes contain lots of fresh vegetables and not many preservatives, there is no can of mushroom, no cream of chicken, etc. (Note – I am not against these things, but 1) There’s no availability and 2) I’m old fashioned.) The most processed it gets is the chicken broth. I like eating and knowing exactly what I am eating, not looking at labels on things and not only not knowing what it is but not even being able to pronounce the word. After all, are we cooking here or learning a foreign language?
I thought I would share some of my favorite, and so easy, winter recipes for soups and stews…
Ribollita by Ina Garten
I make mental note after mental note to soak the beans overnight, but I always seem to forget. I bought the pancetta and made it with the first time around, but ever since, I opt for saving a few precious monies and don’t include it. Instead of using 4 cups of cabbage and another 4 cups of kale (I can’t get that here anyway) I opt for 8 cups of superfood spinach. It’s super healthy and gives great flavor.
Curried Butternut Squash Soup by Ina Garten
This recipe is as easy as chopping the butternut squash, apples, and onion, seasoning them with salt, pepper, olive oil, and then roasting in the oven. I roast until there are a just a few charred pieces and then mix it all together in my stockpot with the chicken broth. A little curry, salt and pepper to taste, and a few clicks of the immersion blender and that’s it. I think it’s hearty and delicious without the nuts and scallions but feel free to jazz it up!
Ratatouille Soup by FN Mag
Another delicious, simple, and budget friendly soup. The whole meal, with parmesano reggiano cheese, cost me about 1,40€/per person. It’s vegetables, herbs, olive oil, and voilá! I use a red bell pepper rather than a yellow one (cheaper) and instead of a baguette, I made croutons from ciabatta bread. Also, instead of canned tomatoes, I chopped up some fresh (about 5 small tomatoes), put them in a skillet on a medium flame for about 5-7 minutes and added a little salt and pepper. When they were juicy and delicious, I poured them into the stockpot.
Bacon & Egg Soup by FN Mag (Trust me, it’s delicious.)
I’ll admit, as I was halfway through, I thought about pouring it down the drain and making this instead. I’m so glad I didn’t. I added a little olive oil to the bacon pieces and 86ed the parsley. Next time I think I will throw in a little spinach. I did use the cheese rind but I didn’t pour in any extra cheese, just grated a little to put on top with the croutons when serving. I had my doubts, but the second I tasted the delicious flavors of the broken egg with the bacon, broth, cheese, and croutons, I was in heaven. Very tasty!
Cranberry Bean Pasta by FN Mag
This is a hearty delicious type of Minestrone Soup. Once again I used fresh tomatoes instead of the canned (soak them in boiling water for a few minutes to make them easier to peel). I also exchanged the kale for spinach, always looking to throw in an extra superfood where I can.