Now that I have a 5-month-old baby, I no longer have time to prepare all of my meals from scratch. But since it is especially crucial right now to eat nourishing home-cooked meals, the best solution is to prepare them ahead of time, so that I can easily heat them up whenever I am pressed for time.
The meals that work best on such occasions are nutrient-rich soups and stews. You can make a big pot and have leftovers to freeze or refrigerate for later. Also, if you have a good bone broth cooking stock pre-made, you can whip up an easy bowl of soup anytime using whatever you have on hand in your refrigerator, even leftovers.
The first and most important thing to have on hand for making any soup or stew is good cooking stock. For this recipe I use my own home-made chicken stock, one step that is easy to do ahead of time.
Any time you roast a chicken or turkey, save the bones. Put the whole carcass in the crock pot, cover with water and add half of a lemon or 1 T fresh lemon juice (the acidity will help draw minerals & other nutrients from the bones), and simmer overnight. In the morning, let it cool and strain the liquid into pint jars to be frozen for later use (Don’t fill glass jars completely or they will crack when frozen).
This nourishing broth is loaded with minerals as well as flavor, and will make any soup or stew distinctive and delectable. Soups made with bone broths are especially nourishing for nursing mothers and those who want to boost their immune system, and are excellent sources of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.
The gelatin in bone broths aids in the digestion of other foods. It also makes soups naturally slightly thicker, so recipes are flourless and gluten-free. If you haven’t got any of your own stock on hand, you can usually buy some from a good butcher shop, but keep this step in mind for the future, because it is so easy to do and so good for you. Below my chili recipe, you will see some other easy ideas to make quick soups from bone broths.
I am so excited that autumn is rolling in and all the late summer/early fall vegetables have arrived at the farmers’ market, including all the various types of chili peppers. There are so many to choose from, sweet or spicy, including Anaheim, Fresno, poblano, Serrano, and sweet banana peppers. My favorites are the poblano peppers because they are not too spicy and have a slightly smoky flavor. These plentiful peppers and the crisp fall weather make for a perfect hearty pot of chili!
(makes 4 servings, double the recipe for more leftovers or if cooking for more people)
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 1 can (or 2 cups pre-cooked) red kidney beans
- 1 14-oz. can diced or crushed tomatoes
- 1 pint chicken or turkey stock
- 1 poblano pepper, seeds removed & chopped
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder (more or less, to desired level of spice)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 T olive oil
Saute the pepper, onion & garlic in olive oil until fragrant in a large soup pot.
Add the ground turkey, salt, and spices and brown. Strain the beans and tomatoes (if using diced) and add to the pot along with the stock.
Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes to thicken and absorb the flavors. When serving, top with some fresh diced cucumber & cilantro, or some fresh greens you have on hand such as spinach or arugula.
Refrigerate or freeze the leftovers to heat up on another occasion. I usually find that it tastes even better the second time around!
Quick soups from bone broth base
Sometimes I just feel like having a hot bowl of soup for lunch, but I don’t have the time to make a full recipe. (This happens a lot when I am home by myself with the baby.) You can easily do this in 5-10 minutes if you’ve got some cooking stock made ahead of time. It seems like I’ve always got a jar of stock on hand in the fridge since I make it so frequently.
Here are some easy ideas to whip up a delicious and nutritious bowl of soup using bone broths and leftovers or anything else you may have in your refrigerator or pantry.
1. Bone broth with seaweed, buckwheat soba noodles and mushrooms – add an additional cup of water and boil all ingredients until noodles are cooked (about 8 minutes. Make sure they are 100% buckwheat in order to be gluten-free!)
2. Miso soup with chicken and rice – if you have any leftover chicken and cooked rice, add some chicken stock and bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes, then pour into a bowl and stir in a teaspoon of miso.
3. Coconut soup with shrimp – heat some cooking stock with a small can (5-6 oz) of full-fat coconut milk, add a pinch of chili flakes and some frozen peeled and deveined shrimp and boil for 5 minutes or until the shrimp are fully cooked (less time for pre-cooked shrimp).
Create your own yummy soup using home-made stock with whatever leftovers or ingredients you have on hand. I’d love to hear your ideas and creations!
This post is part of BlogHer’s Make Ahead Meals editorial series, made possible by Bank of America.