In 2022, we are facing uncertain times. Fuel costs, shortages, and worldwide instability could cause a person to fret and worry, especially if that person hasn’t learned to place their trust in God. It’s easy to spot Christ-followers who struggle with trust. A consistently stressed Christian has not learned to navigate through stressful experiences by trusting in a consistently faithful God.
I find my stress and anxiety levels fall dramatically when I ask God how I can partner with Him as I faithfully steward what He provides. One of the ways I do so is through frugal cooking without compromising nutrition. My parents grew up during the Great Depression, and their parents knew how to stretch a dollar. During challenging economic times, my mom and dad implemented some of those cost-saving techniques with their own family. I don’t remember a day that I went to bed hungry. I, in turn, use some of those ideas myself and added some more over the years.
Soups and stews are a great way to stretch protein, and they are great for batch cooking. As I have an Instant Pot, I often have a massive pot of soup simmering away while doing my ministry work over the internet. This is the soup I made today. This soup was created by me looking around my kitchen and using what I had on hand.
Easy Chicken Salsa Soup
9-10 LARGE servings. Freezes great.
FRUGAL tips included – How to stretch a dollar without compromising nutrition.
Two cups of shredded chicken – from a whole chicken I cooked in the instant pot, then deboned and shredded, placing in 2 cup portions in bags to freeze.
Six cups of chicken broth I make my own, from the bones that I save from instant pot chicken or roasted/oven-baked chicken. I save any liquid from the chicken by putting it in freezer containers. (See frugal tip below)
Six cups broccoli slaw or coleslaw or shredded cabbage
2 cups frozen kale
2 cups frozen cauliflower rice
Half a medium onion diced – I use 3 tbsps dehydrated onion as it is less waste for a single person. I have had too many half onions go bad in my fridge!
Three stalks of celery – sliced. Use the leaves as well – they are highly nutritious and flavourful. It is an old wife’s tale that they are poisonous.
One heaping tablespoon of chopped garlic
One medium-sized jar of salsa, pick your own heat – Tip, add a cup of chicken stock to the empty jar, put the lid on the jar, shake it and add the stock into the pot. Every drop counts.
One package chilli seasoning mix
Pepper to taste. You do not need salt because there’s enough salt in the salsa and the chilli packet.
Optional Chili-Garlic sauce to taste – Omit if you used spicy salsa.
Place all your ingredients in a large heavy-bottomed pot or use your Instant Pot. Place your salsa in last because tomatoes will burn quickly if you cook this over a stovetop. Stir often. Make sure you only go to medium heat at the very most because the tomatoes will burn at the bottom of your pot if you’re not careful. Cook for 90 minutes or so.
In an instant pot, the same thing goes. Salsa goes in last! One hour minutes manual and a natural release
Vegetables should be soft.
One serving of this soup is a complete meal in itself. If you aren’t eating low carb, serve all soups with whole-wheat or multi-grained bread or buns. You could also crumble tortilla chips before serving this particular soup and sprinkle cheese on top.
Frugal Tip 1
Make your own chicken soup stock. I do this simply by saving the bones from any chicken I cook. I stick them in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag I keep in the freezer until the bag is full. I also add well-washed vegetable peelings and onion skins to the bag. I then dump everything from the bag into a stock pot or instant pot and add a whole well-cleaned onion and three or four stalks of celery. You don’t need to chop the celery as you will be straining the broth later. Add a few peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, and 2 tsp of apple cider vinegar. Cover bones with cold water, and bring to simmer.
On the stove, simmer for at least 5-6 hours, if not longer. If you are using an Instant Pot, set the manual setting for 90-120 minutes. then natural release.
The vinegar releases more nutrients from the bones and does not add a vinegary taste to the broth. Your chicken bones should be springy to the touch, as most of the marrow should be released into the broth. The soup broth will not be as clear as store-bought broth because it has more nutrients. Strain in a fine-mesh strainer, and discard the bones and vegetables. Cool and dump the bones and veggies into a compost pile if you have one. Place broth into air-tight freezer containers and freeze. I use Ziploc twist and turn containers, and the broth stays fine for months in the freezer ready for your next soup or stew.
Frugal tip 2
Deli whole rotisserie chicken is quite often cheaper than buying a whole raw chicken. The drawback is that rotisserie chicken usually is injected with a saline solution that adds a lot of sodium to your meal. When I buy Deli rotisserie chickens, I reserve enough for one meal, and then I debone and shred the rest of the chicken into two-cup servings and freeze them for later soups.
Frugal tip 3
Save washed celery leaves, carrot peelings, kale ribs, broccoli and cauliflower leaves, onion skins, etc. and add them to the soup bone bag in your freezer. Yellow onion skins and carrot peelings that are well washed add a lovely golden colour to your chicken broth. Freeze the outer stalks of celery with only a few discoloured spots on the ribs.
Frugal tip 4
Shred a large raw potato and add it to your soup as it simmers for a heartier stick-to-your-ribs experience. It will also act as a natural thickener if you eat gluten or dairy-free. You can also add leftover mashed potatoes that you previously froze to any soup to add a creamy texture.
Last but not least, meditate on this truth.
Matthew 6:25-33- (NASB) “For this reason, I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you, by being worried, can add a single hour to his life?
And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
© 2022 Katherine Walden