Monday, January 3, 2011

Frugal With a Capital "F" French Onion Soup

In these tough economic times who isn't trying to make their dollar stretch?  I am trying this week to live off my pantry and freezer. We will not be going hungry by any means. Some staples I always keep on hand are beans (canned black beans, lentils,) chicken stock, rice, potatoes, pasta like spaghetti noodles and wide egg noodles. In my freezer I always have a bag of boneless skinless chicken breast, (we use one at least a week) frozen hamburger I've divided into one pound bags, bread which I buy and freeze.

If I don't use chicken stock in the fridge within a week I measure it out into one cup servings and freeze it in a Ziploc bag. Then I just pull it out when I need it. I also freeze spaghetti sauces the same way. Couscous is also something I like to keep on hand. A little goes a long way.

Budget stretchers like soup are also a staple in my house. With the Christmas ham I made split pea soup and scalloped potatoes. I try to make soup at least once a week.

Staying within our budget takes a small bit of planning. I sit down every Sunday and make out my list. I ask the family if they want anything special. Then I look at the store coupons and flyers and make my list. I am a Food TV junkie so I may find a a recipe or two I want to make throughout the week.

This is another soup that has become our family favorite.

Chicken Chipotle Soup (adapted from an Americas Test Kitchen Recipe) I  make it from memory now.

2 bone in chicken breasts
2  Chipotle chilies in adobo sauce chopped (these can be HOT so you can use more or less if you like)
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1 can of diced tomatoes drained
1 whole onion
bunch of cilantro chopped for topping
2 avocados chopped for topping
tortilla chips for topping
2-3 Tbsp Soup base
sour cream for topping

I make this in the crock pot because I work late and have to get a dinner out in 30 minutes or less.
In a crock pot add water, chicken, diced tomatoes, onion and put on low for 8 hrs or 4 hrs. on high. When chicken is falling off the bone take out and shred with two forks. Add soup base and chicken back to crock pot. Taste for seasoning. Serve with crumpled tortilla chips, avocado and sour cream.  The sour cream takes down the heat of the chipotles.

You can also make your own tortilla chips by heating the oven to 425. Cut about 10 corn tortillas into strips with a knife. Spray a cookie sheet with Pam and spread out tortillas making sure they are seperated. Spray with Pam and season with salt or Adobo seasoning. Bake for 8-10 minutes turning once until crispy.

This French Onion Soup is something I freeze and use in recipes like crock pot pot roast, french dip steak sandwiches, or eat it as a soup again.

French Onion Soup

6-8 onions chopped
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups water
2 cups beef stock
2-3 TBSP beef soup base or bullion
2 TBSP flour
2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP olive oil
Salt and pepper 1 tsp.
Slices of Havarti or provolone cheese
crusty french bread

In a stock pot sautee' onions until they become translucent in the olive oil and butter. Add salt and pepper. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir browning for about 2-3 minutes. Add white wine and simmer another 2-3 minutes. Add water and stock and beef soup base or bullion. Cook over medium heat for approx. 30 minutes. Serve with a piece of provolone on top. You can stick it in the broiler but we like how the cheese melts in the soup.

We really like this with steak subs. We use chopped sandwich steak, chopped mushrooms, onions, and green peppers. Brown the steak and put into sliced french bread top with cheese and put under the broiler. They are perfect for dipping into the soup.

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