So, the other day, I decided to make chicken soup. It turned out nicely. It turned out so nicely, in fact, that it turned to jello when I refrigerated it. (That’s apparently one of the signs of a really well-done chicken stock. It has something to do with getting all the flavor from the chicken bones, and chicken bones being a common basis for gelatin and stuff.)
But, yeah. It made a good soup. And it can be reheated from its jello form into soup. So, here’s the recipe.
Chicken Soup / pre-Savoury-Jello
3-4 pounds of drumsticks. These should be really inexpensive. (I paid about $0.69 a pound.) I actually initially made the soup because I wanted the drumsticks. The fact that the soup turned out so well was an added bonus! This ended up being about 12-14 drumsticks. (I’m not entirely sure. I miscounted a few times. And it doesn’t really matter…) Price (rounded): $3
1 medium sweet onion, sliced. Call it about $1.
Carrots. (I used about a third-bag of baby carrots, since I eat those for snacks anyway, and didn’t want to deal with peeling and chopping and stuff.) Call it about $0.50
Salt to taste
(Optional: some lemon juice, other seasonings.)
First some pre-instructions.
Remove the skin from some of the drumsticks. (Semi-optional. This makes it a bit easier for the skimming later on.)
Slice the onions.
In whatever size pot you have that will hold your ingredients and let you fill it with water so that it won’t boil over…
Place the drumsticks in the pot.
Cover with water. (Make sure the drumsticks are all covered.)
Put in onions, carrots, and salt.
Bring to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally.
Skim the surface as you go. (Lots of stuff from the skin and stuff will come up to the top. It increases the chance of boil-overs.) Be careful to leave the onions and carrots in.
Let it continue to boil until the chicken is fully cooked. Yes, some recipes call for it to simmer. It probably turns out better. I don’t know. But this is what I’ve done, and it still tastes good. And it gets done in generally between 20 and 40 minutes. You’ll know it’s either done, or close to being done, when the meat starts falling off the bones.
If you’re like me, let it continue to boil for another 3-5 minutes, just to be extra sure.
Remove the chicken from the pot, for easier access to the broth.
Skim the fat and stuff. (Or wait to do that the next day after it’s refrigerated, and have a really rich soup that night. My default. Especially as I do skim some of the stuff with a large spoon as I go.)
Serve it up, and enjoy. Depending on how much water you use, you should get at least 4 meals out of it. And lots of snacks with the drumsticks.
I have recently been using variations on a type of soup for my dinners. And sometimes lunches. Because I’ve made a very easy, inexpensive recipe that’s fairly flexible, fairly tasty, and fairly filling.
Easy Soup Recipe
I love this recipe, in large part because it’s inexpensive in both money and time. Prep time: about 5-10 minutes, tops. Cooking time: 20-45 minutes. Total: less than an hour until you get a hearty, delicious soup. 🙂
Necessary Ingredients (makes about 4-6 servings.)
6 cups of water (free)
2 TBSP of either chicken or beef “Better than Bouillon” (BtB) (About $1 if you get it from Amazon, so call it about $.2/serving.)
1 small can of tomato paste ($.3? So, $.07/serving?)
1 onion ($.50-$.60? I dunno… $.10-$.12/serving)
2 carrots ($.2, so $.04/serving)
2 celery sticks ($.2? $.04/serving)
1/2 C rice (Negligible.)
Beans (Optional. I use black beans or pinto beans.) ($.95, so $.2/serving)
(optional) some almonds, pecans, or (I haven’t tried this one yet) walnuts. (This makes it a bit more expensive. But I use about 1/3 of a cup for the entire recipe, so it’s still not that bad.) (I am not going to include the price here.)
The prices here are mostly negligible.
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Cinnamon to taste
Prepared Mustard (I use Beaver’s Hot and Sweet when I use the beef BtB)
Parsley to taste
Salt (not needed with normal BtB)
Cheese. (Either white or cheddar, or white cheddar.) ($.5 or $.6/serving.)
Total cost: about $.65/serving. (Not including the price of any bread you choose to have with it. But that’s also fairly inexpensive, and probably costs no more than about $.10/serving. So, call it about $.75/serving. Not bad!)
In a soup pot, bring 6 C of water to a boil
While water is boiling, slice onions, carrots, and celery. Add to the water at any point in time.
When water is boiling, add the 2 Tbsp of BtB, the spices, and the can of tomato paste. Stir until BTB is dissolved, and tomato paste is well incorporated
Add the 1/2 C rice, stir.
Reduce heat as much as possible, as though you were cooking the rice. Cover, and let sit for at least 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the rice from sticking.
(Optional) After about 15 minutes, heat the beans you will want in your soup.
(NONOPTIONAL). When soup is done, serve into bowl. (If including beans in order to get the complete protein, or whatever it is, combine the two sets now.)
(optional) If using cheese, now’s a good time to add it in. My personal favorite combo is a combination of the “babybell” cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan, and Romano.
(Optional) Heat some french bread (or other starchy bready thing) to go with.
It’s getting on towards the end of the quarter for me. At some point I’m going to need to do a series of posts on the interesting snacks I’ve experimented with, but I don’t have the time.
I do have the time, though, to share a fairly quick coffee drink recipe with you. It’s a white-chocolate, chocolate, peppermint drink I’m calling “Mocha Meltdown Madness” for a few reasons.
A) Alliteration. Duh.
2) Chocolate. I’m getting towards (2ards? Meh) the end of the quarter, which means that chocolate is required to prevent / help with “meltdowns.” Also, chocolate melts. So, it’s a pun.
last) Madness. Why didn’t I think of this before? Why is the end of the semester so busy? Why are all these ingredients in the same cup tasting so good? Madness, I tell you!
Mocha Meltdown Madness
1-2 ounces of milk (per 10 ounces of coffee, up to you. It depends on the size of your mug.) Cream would be better, but hey- grad school budget. (negligible price / not worth the time of estimation.)
10 ounces of coffee, thereabouts. (About 30 cents, according to my Dad’s calculations. Or free, if you get someone else to buy the coffee for you.)
About 1 TBSP white chocolate chips (negligible cost)
About 1 TBSP bittersweet chocolate chips (negligible)
5-6 drops peppermint extract / a bit less than 1/4 tsp. (If you don’t like peppermint that much, even though it helps with concentration so it’s practically a necessity / healthy for students, use less.) (negligible)
A small capful of vanilla (optional). Or a big capful. But that’ll change the flavor. Obviously.
Heat milk, either in microwave or saucepan/skillet/stovetop-safe-thingy until it is hot enough to melt your chocolate
Add the chocolate chips, peppermint, and vanilla
Stir/whisk together until blended
Stick in microwave again, to ensure that your coffee stays hot for as long as possible. I use about 45 seconds on 20% power. Or use whatever setting you would for melting chocolate.
Pour coffee into mug, stir again.
(Optional: If you have whipped cream, put on top. Peppermint sprinkles would make a nice garnish. However, since this is a recipe by a graduate student, the original recipe does not have anything like that. After all, I choose not to afford cream on a regular basis. So, no whipped cream… for a regular thing.)
Test it. If necessary, or if merely desired, add more chocolate chips. White chocolate chips makes the drink sweeter, whereas bittersweet makes it more, well, chocolatey.
Total price? Probably less than a buck. But does it matter? Nope. It is SO. WORTH IT.
First of all, look for free food on campus. Where I am, the GSA has a weekly Friday Morning Coffee & Bagel Breakfast, and it’s fantastic. (They also have donuts, but I don’t really care about those. Bagels & cream-cheese are far more substantive.)
Free food is a great money saver. For obvious reasons.
Second, let me tell you about my lunch. This one requires a little bit more “up front” purchase (as in, I purchased an expensive blender at the beginning of September that I’d been saving up for this summer), and the ingredients might be a bit more expensive. But I think net cost was still about $1 per serving. (And I only made enough for myself.) Spending about $1 for lunch I think is a pretty reasonable price.
Also, please note that I did not actually measure anything. But do a variation on this, and you’ll probably be good.
PB&J & Fruit Smoothie
First of all, please note that I am not a health nut. I put spinach in primarily as filler, and as a way to make sure I would actually eat my vegetables (but without actually having to taste them.) This was basically a way for me to have dessert for lunch, and to be able to justify it. 🙂 I am basically a “healthy eater” only when it tastes better (or costs less) than the alternatives. Mac & Cheese for this particular instance would have been a bit too warm, and would have taken too long to make. So, please don’t get scared off by the word “spinach!”
And I actually like the flavor of flax. It complements the peanut butter quite well, and again helps me justify having dessert for lunch.
A handful or two of spinach. This was probably less than a quarter of the $2 bag of spinach I got a while ago. So let’s call it $.50.
Some lemon juice to cancel out the flavor of the spinach. (Negligible price.)
Probably about 1.5 TBSP of Peanut Butter. (About $0.10. Remember, I bought in bulk. And the peanut butter I got was pure peanut. Yum!)
About 1 TBSP flax meal. (Optional. I have a large bag of it, so I threw some in.)
About 5 large ice cubes. I don’t pay for water, so that was free.
Some frozen grapes. (Also optional. I used few enough that I can’t really taste them.)
Some frozen strawberries. (You might want to use more than I did.) I used about 1/5 of the $2 bag that I got, so about $0.40.
A teaspoon or so of Strawberry Preserves. I got a huge thing here. Let’s call it about $0.05 for the jam.
A bit of liquid from the fridge to thin it out a bit. Can put more ice in instead to decrease the cost.
Total Cost: $1.05. (And ingredients can be varied to make it a bit less than $1. And I once again probably overestimated how much the spinach cost.)
I then used my Vitamix blender to turn it into a drinkable substance. It was the perfect lunch for right after about 2.5 hours of bike riding and navigating around the hot campus to try to find where to purchase a bus pass and learn my way around.