A few weeks back I declared a renewed focus on soup, which can be gussied up, slimmed down or fattened with ease. Bonus: It is budget-friendly.
And as the New Year turned, I began to think about what I’d like to do more of here, and less of here. Food is, obviously, key to survival, and my kid needs extra calories and nutritional attention due to his medical issues. I’m trying to slim it on down, and Mark and Laila are the pickiest eaters on the planet. I find no joy in baking. I am interested in upping my cooking game as in the right frame of mind I find it – dare I say – like a form of free therapy! Yet we are so pressed for time it’s not even funny haha.
Where does that leave me?
There are so many bloggers who do food waaaaay better than me. Pioneer Woman, anyone? The niche I can carve out is for the set of moms and dads and busy people who need to get dinner on the table like an Indy 500 team needs to get a race car tire changed.
My goal is to get a weekend post up on some big batch we’re cooking up, and then sprinkle in super-easy recipes and occasional reviews of products that help real working people with kids get real food on the table real fast. Farm to table? HAHAHAHAH. Try box or bag to table, revamped leftovers and other hacks.
I always write here under severe time limitations, so let’s call this an experiment and see how it goes! I hope I can keep it up!
Enough blathering. Here’s my first foray!
Minnesota Heartland Eleven Bean Soup mix.
Roughly $6 from Braum’s will get you 10-12 servings, not including the meat add-ins. It’s on sale at frontiersoups.com for the same price, but on amazon.com, the price varied widely, so be choosey!
GMO-free ingredients, low-sodium, gluten free if you’re into that, no preservatives or MSG, easy to make.
Our legume pals are a protein-rich, full of iron, complex carbs and fiber and other nutrients. Beans are basically a budget-friendly superfood!
Beans are a good way to set your plate right as Dietary Guidelines for Americans note that nutrients found in beans are are among those most of us don’t get enough of.
Long cooking time, I didn’t add enough salt (easy to fix that, though).
The instructions are easy enough, but plan to be around your stove for a good 5-hour stretch to knock this puppy out.
I dusted off my big red soup pot from Target. Love my big red soup pot.
Right. Didn’t have a ham hock! Didn’t have a kielbasa. Didn’t have the celery or green pepper! Didn’t feel like going to the store! I did have bacon and frozen chicken, the onion, garlic and canned, diced (and organic!) tomatoes in my pantry. I cooked the bacon while thawing the chicken in the micro. I had about 3/4 of a package on hand and cooked it all half, though I would use only half for the soup. I reserved the fat.
I set the bacon aside and browned the chicken, about three breasts, in the bacon fat.
Why did I do that? I’ve heard browning meat before you throw it into a soup or crock pot will encourage flavors to come out and party.
Ooooh, also, I poured all that reserved bacon fat along with the chicken into the soup, eventually. Fat is flavor’s friend, that’s why! Fat keeps you full. Fat is not the enemy! (Grew up in the low-fat 90s, trying to reverse my mentality!)
The directions are above, I’m just noting my improvisations.
Note: Am prone to improvise while cooking, sometimes to disastrous results! YAY.
Note: Exhausted while cooking this, as it was actually on a Monday, not a Sunday, a week back! Better to do this sort of project on a Sunday if you can swing it. Due to said exhaustion, I threw the chicken into the pot, without cutting it up, at hour 4, rather than waiting until the last half hour. I told my husband to pretty please turn off the oven and put it in a giant container in the fridge because I really needed to go to bed. He did. And that’s what I call romance.
After my, shall we say, ample suite of improvisations, I lived in fear that I had made a vat of flavorless bean primordial ooze.
Imagine my surprise when I lifted that first bite to my mouth and the soup was excellent! Full of flavor! Just the right amount of tomato tangy and smoky. Hoo-ra.
Not perfect, though. It needed more salt.
The chicken was tough. I plucked the breasts out of the soup and diced ’em up into little pieces to fix this hitch. I expected to be able to shred the chicken with a fork. I’m not sure where I went wrong here. Anyone?
I punched up subsequent bowls of my bean soup with avocado, lime juice, salt, cilantro that is somehow still alive in my garden after two ice storms and a snow storm and Louisiana hot sauce. YUM.
Laila loved the soup! By that I mean, she loved it the first time, then refused to eat it!
Eli refused to eat it because he is a threenager.
Mark refused to eat it because he eats like a pregnant woman.
I ate a lot of bean soup this week. I loved my bean soup. What is wrong with my family members? Don’t answer that.
The recipe left me with a vat of soup and only one person actually diving into it. ME. Hmmm.
I used one larger tupperware to store five cups of my glorious-yet-underappreciated soup. I next used a strip of Duct tape (it’s the best!) and a sharpie to label it. I had three one-cup servings I froze in smaller containers, labeling those also, that I’ll be able to grab for lunch.
Will I make it again?
Because this mixed bean soup got such mixed reviews, I’m going to hold off on making it again soon, but don’t let my weirdly picky eaters discourage you from giving it a try. Mark’s not a fan of beans. Eli is a threenager. Laila – she’s an unpredictable little soul prone to love something one day and despise it the next.
Would it have yielded better results had I followed the directions like an obedient cook? Hmmmmmmm.
The question is – will you give this soup a try?