Soup is a great comfort food for winter meals, and so good for you too. Our featured recipe for January is Mexican Chicken Soup. Making this soup takes less time than getting in the car and driving through your favorite takeout place. You don’t have to cook the chicken ahead of time. Just place raw boneless chicken in the pot with the other ingredients. After cooking for about 20 minutes, take the chicken out and shred it into bite-size pieces. Serve it with tortilla chips or bread, apple/orange slices and you have a meal with something from each food group plus plenty of fiber. For extra instruction, check out the preparation video under the recipe instructions.
This recipe would be super economical if you made your own chicken broth and cooked dry beans instead of buying them canned; click on the hot links above to see the directions. Another advantage of doing it yourself is that you can control the amount of sodium.
If this soup scores points with your family, check out the other soup recipes in the Cook section of the SpendSmart.EatSmart web page. All our recipes are healthy, low-cost and easy.
Mexican Chicken Soup
- 2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes (Mexican-style)
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups frozen corn or 1 15-ounce can corn, drained and rinsed
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can sodium-reduced chicken broth or 2 cups Homemade Chicken Broth
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast
- Add tomatoes, beans, corn, broth, garlic, chili powder, cumin (if desired), and pepper in large saucepan.
- Remove and discard any visible fat from chicken. Cut chicken into large chunks and add to the saucepan. Heat to boiling, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until chicken is tender.
- Remove the chicken and place on a plate; use forks to shred the chicken. Return the shredded chicken to soup.
- Serve with choice of garnishes, such as baked tortilla chips.
-pointers from Peggy
eat, food cost, food preparation, recipes
Last week after a program, I offered to leave some of the sandwich samples for the staff. One of them commented that they had a bunch of other snacks and that the sandwiches might not get eaten. I said, “Well, you can take these home and freeze them for another day.” The look I received was that of total shock. “You can freeze sandwiches?” was the reply. The individual was just sure the bread would be all soggy and the overall quality so bad that you would never want to consider it. But, the quality isn’t diminished. It’s time to use the freezer and save a few dollars…
Sandwiches you make ahead and freeze can save money and time. Just about any sandwich—other than those with a mayonnaise base (such as chopped meat or egg salad)—can be frozen. It’s best to apply condiments such as mayonnaise when ready to use. Some great filling choices include: peanut butter and jelly; deli meat; plain canned tuna; cheese; or cheese along with a meat. Or, you might consider buying a whole roast or chicken, cook it in the slow cooker or oven the day before, and use the meat from that for sandwiches. It will be cheaper than the deli meat and definitely lower in sodium. Dicing these larger meat cuts will make them stretch further. Make the sandwiches and wrap them in plastic wrap or a sandwich bag, put them in a larger freezer-weight plastic bag (being sure to mark the bag with the contents), then pop in the freezer. For more on freezing sandwiches, Nebraska Extension has a great tip sheet.
When you are ready to pack your lunch, just grab one of the sandwiches from the freezer and place in an insulated bag with an ice block. It should be thawed in time for lunch. You could add to this lunch a bag of vegetable sticks (prep several bags and have ready for grabbing from the fridge), fruit, string cheese, and cookie. Fast! Easy! And easily less than $2.00 for lunch.
-Jottings from Jan
food cost, food preparation, resources
Here’s what Jessica, an Extension Educator from Barco, North Carolina, shared when I requested ideas for using chicken quarters. Jessica indicates she has to have quick/easy meals for her husband to prepare while she is away at work. She says the first two suggestions are his favorites and he makes them all the time without a set recipe. She can’t wait to get more recipes and other ideas for using chicken leg quarters.
- Chicken and Rice Soup
“I add the ‘quick’ shredded carrots so I can get in some veggies for my family. They don’t like celery or onion but tolerate the carrots to the point that now they expect the carrots! We usually use a whole chicken and save the breast to make chicken salad for sandwiches for lunch.”
- Chicken ‘n Dumplings
“…but with the wide egg noodles, or I use the Miss Anne’s dumplings [old-fashioned, frozen flat dumplings/noodles].”
“Use the precooked meat for quesadillas with veggies on whole wheat tortilla.”
- Barbecue Chicken
Thanks, Jessica! I’m still working on a handout with pictures, prices and recipes. It will be coming soon. Thanks to those of you who sent ideas.
-pointers by Peggy
food cost, food preparation