Chicken soup for the soul, or how to make a quick and easy chicken soup that feeds 5 for under $15
Total cost: $13.89 with leftover food in most categories for a second batch
To me, the most indispensable item to have in your kitchen to help college students (and families) to eat well with minimal prep time is a crockpot or other slow cooker. One warning: you cannot keep a soup in the crockpot for 3 weeks and then think it will still be good. My daughter learned this the hard way and the stench that wafted through her small apartment when she took the lid off the crockpot should guarantee that she doesn’t make that mistake again. It is best to eat the first helping of whatever you make and store the rest in the frig in serving sized containers for later consumption. If you know you will eat it within a day, keeping the crockpot on warm should keep the food hot enough to stay safe. My goal when my son and daughter are home is to always have hot food available for them to graze on, so we tend to clear out a crockpot of soup or stew in one day.
I buy chicken or beef broth whenever it is on sale. I usually have 10 cans on hand at any given time. My favorite time to buy is when the store has 10 for $10 (or less) specials.
Spices you like: For us, salt, pepper – we save the red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese packets that come with pizzas, parsley, garlic, etc. My family loves McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning – $5.60 for 7 ounces.
Buy potatoes, carrots, celery and onions in bulk. They last pretty well and are typically cheaper that way.
Here’s my quick and easy (and delicious) chicken soup recipe:
1 rotisserie chicken – I got a ready made one from Dillons. Walmart, Sam’s, Costco, many grocery chains cook these fresh daily. The price seems to be pretty standard $4.99 to $5.99 for a smaller one (which I use – mine was $5.99), $7.99 to $8.99 for a large one. I chop my veggies in larger chunks, as I like to make a more hearty soup. Everything below can easily be upsized to feed a larger group.
3 stalks of celery (a bunch of celery should last you 3 batches of soup) – 1 bunch – $1.49
3 large carrots (a pound bag of carrots should make 2 batches of soup) I DO peel my carrots! – 2 lb bag – $2.50
2 large or 4 small potatoes (a 5 lb bag of potatoes should last your for 3 batches of soup) I DON’T peel my potatoes. I like the more rustic variation! – $3.49
¾ to 1 large white onion – $.99
2 – 32 oz packages of Swanson’s chicken broth (or 4 cans) – $3.96
Seasonings to taste: I use parsley, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, to taste. I like the jars of chopped garlic in water – fresh garlic is also awesome). One small jar of garlic can last me for 2-3 pots of soup.
Here’s what I do:
1) Take the chicken (I chose “savory” for this soup; you can use lemon pepper, garlic, original, or whatever variety you like), place it and any juices in the bag in the crockpot, top with ½ chopped onion, parsley, salt, pepper, garlic, and ½ of a 32 oz package of chicken broth, simmer for hours (whatever time you have available works, but I do it for at least 2 hours). I simmer the chicken in the crockpot before boning it as I want to get all the flavor I can from it into my broth.
2) Remove chicken from broth, skin, bone and cut up meat into chunks. Set aside.
3) Add chopped potatoes, carrots, celery and ¼ to ½ of the remaining onion to the broth. Add the rest of the broth from the package and ½ of another package to the crockpot.
4) Return chicken to the crockpot
5) Add seasonings to taste. I add red pepper at this point and taste the broth to see if it needs anything else.
6) Cook until veggies are tender. This takes a couple hours.
I often do this over the course of two days, put the chicken in the crockpot and simmer all night, cut up veggies and bag them, clean the chicken in the morning, add veggies and chicken into the broth, cook on low all day while I’m at school, and we’re greeted when we get home by a mouthwatering smell and a delicious dinner. We often bake crescent rolls to eat with the soup. $1.89 for 8.
Enjoy! If you try this, please let me know what you think.
So, help us out! The WSU Hunger Awareness team is trying to build a quick and easy cookbook of affordable meals for 2-5 people that college students and families can use to eat healthy. Please share you recipes here or on our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WSUHungerAwareness?ref=hl or on our website: wsuhunger.wordpress.com.