Use-What-You-Got Chicken Noodle Soup

I really love soup.  My husband, not so much.  So…you can probably guess what I like to make when my husband isn’t home for dinner.

Last Wednesday was no exception.  It was rainy and relatively chilly (for summer in the South), and my son and I were holding down the fort alone for a few days.  What better thing to make that soup?  The only problem was that I was out of a lot of things and didn’t really want to make a trek to the grocery store.  The great thing about soup, however, is that you really can use whatever you have on hand.  It’s hard to mess it up!  So, I decided to throw together a Use-What-You-Got Chicken Noodle Soup.  Or chicken-y noodle soup, as chicken meat was one of the things I was out of.

Here’s what I had:

-Leftover homemade chicken broth made from a chicken I cooked last week
-A few onions and a clove of garlic from the garden
-Egg noodles
-Red Quinoa
-Rice
-Leftover cooked lentils
-Kale
-Carrots
-Bag of frozen mixed veggies
-Frozen, chopped celery
-Various spices
Within about 25 minutes those random ingredients were bubbling in a nice, warming soup.  Here’s how you can do it too:  
First, heat some olive oil (or butter or coconut oil or whatever you have) in a large sauce pan or stock pot.  Chop up the onion and press or finely mince the garlic and throw it in with the hot oil.  Saute until tender.
Chop up your carrots.  Throw them and a handful of celery in the pot.  Saute until tender.
Chop up your kale and add it in too.  Saute until it wilts down nicely.  
At this point you can throw in a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Or any kind of vinegar.  Or wine.  Whatever you have and you prefer to use.  
Add in your broth, rice, quinoa, lentils, noodles, frozen veggies, and seasonings.  Turn the heat down to low, cover, and let simmer until the rice and grains are tender.  If you have cooked chicken, now would be the time to cube it up and add it as well.  
In about 15 minutes your soup should be looking like this. 
It should smell as yummy as it looks.  If it doesn’t, add in more seasonings.
My husband may not like soup, but my son devoured it…as you can tell.  
And here’s the final product waiting for me to devour it as well.  We ate our soup with some toast.  Mmm…nothing better.  
And here’s the recipe.  Please don’t follow the exact measurements.  Soup is meant to be thrown together, not measured.  Also, feel free to substitute or omit whatever you want.  It will still turn out deliciously yummy!

Use-What-You-Got Chicken Noodle Soup

Serves: 4 people (with leftovers)     Time to make: 25-30 min.

Ingredients

-Olive oil (or your oil of preference)
-1 onion, chopped
-1 clove of garlic, minced
-4 carrots, chopped
-2 celery stalks, chopped
-1 head of kale, chopped
-Balsamic vinegar (or any other kind of vinegar or wine)
-Box of chicken broth (or use chicken bouillon+water)
-1/2 c. red quinoa
-1/2 c. lentils
-1/2 c. white rice
-1/2 c. egg noodles
-Bag of frozen mixed veggies
-1/2 pound cooked chicken, cubed (optional)
-1 bay leaf
-1/4 t. oregano
-1/4 t. thyme
-1/4 t. parsley
-1/4 t. cumin
-1/4 t. paprika
-Salt
-Pepper

Steps

1.)Heat oil in a large sauce pan or stock pot.  Add in the onion and garlic.  Saute until tender.
2.)Add in the carrots and celery.  Saute until tender.
3.)Add the kale.  Saute until wilted.
4.)Deglaze with the vinegar or wine.  
5.)Add in the chicken broth, quinoa, lentils, rice, noodles, frozen veggies, chicken, and seasonings.
6.)Turn the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the rice and grains are tender.
7.) Taste and adjust seasonings.  Enjoy!  Serve with warm bread.   

Favorite Freezer Meals

I mentioned in my last post that I’m planning on having a lot more freezer meals ready for when this new baby comes along.  Several of you have asked me what meals I’m making, so I thought I’d share with you a few of my favorites.

For now I’ve been compiling a list of my favorite freezer meals on Evernote.  With my first baby, I made a few freezer meals, but really wasn’t too happy with the majority of them.  Most of them needed to be thawed a day before (which I always forgot to do), and many of them took a lot of extra prep before the meal was complete.  Since then, I’ve discovered that my absolute favorite freezer meals are those that can be dumped right into the crockpot, and don’t take a lot of extra prep.  I also look for meals that are relatively healthy and inexpensive.

This is my favorite blog post (blog posts really…there are 5 or 6 of them) with freezer meal recipes.  I have made the majority of them, and of the ones that I’ve made, most of them were big hits with my boys.  They were also really easy to make.  They’re not completely healthy, but most of them can be tweaked a bit.

Since my successes with those recipes, I’ve been experimenting with more meals.  Small scale freezer cooking has really been a lifesaver during the afternoon exhaustion and morning sickness of this pregnancy, and I’m hoping that larger scale freezer cooking will save me (and my sweet family) after Baby Baker #2 is born!

For those interested, here’s a list of what I plan to make so far (I’ve starred the ones that are from the link above):

-Salisbury Steaks *
-Cream Cheese Chicken *
-Roasts *
-Fajitas *
-Italian Sausages *
-Chili
-Stew
-Lasagna
-Baked Spaghetti
-Shepherd’s Pie
-Stuffed Bell Peppers
-Beans and Rice
-Tortillas
-Bread
-Breakfast sandwiches
-Breakfast burritos
-Individual soup servings
-Individual beans and rice servings
-Chopped up veggies for stir frys
-Granola bars
-Prepared veggies for other dishes
-Cooked meat and onions

I’m adding to the list daily, and hoping to get started on it in the next few months.  As a note, I’m planning on making quite a few batches of each.