Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Soups and Stews for Weeknight Meals

One of the hardest parts of being a multi-sport athletes is the combination of ALWAYS being hungry and NEVER having time! While meal prepping, slow cookers, and planning have grown in popularity in recent years, there seems to never be a perfect way for athletes to balance their needs for nutritious, hearty meals with the fact that they work full time and work out one, many times twice a day.

While I admittedly still don't have a perfect solution (Sorry, beloved fiance of mine, for the multitude of chicken fajita salads- I hate grocery shopping!) I have found that cooking big batches of yummy soups and stews helps me have something on hand for nights where I can't think of good dinners (or, more realistically, nights where I just don't have the energy to spend a zillion dollars at the store!

Soups and stews are a great solution for many reasons: They're easy to cook in big batches, they're freeze-able, they're customize-able, they're healthy, and best of all, they're EASY! I often make a big batch and divide it up, keeping enough in the fridge for one night of dinner and the next day's lunch, then freezing the rest in individual containers to take as lunches to work. When I bring them to work frozen, I can leave them by my desk to thaw all morning, making microwaving a big bowl easy come lunch time!

Although soup seven nights a week would probably get tiresome, here are seven of my favorite soup recipes to try! I love soups that feature tons of veggies, a good source of protein, and that make my kitchen smell delicious. (If you need more ideas, I strongly suggest everyone's favorite sight for hoarding ideas we'll eventually get around to- Pinterest. I love having recipe ideas on-hand when I'm planning the week's meals!)

1. Chicken Tortilla Soup with Butternut Squash

I do not have a picture of this, since it's something I made up one night with the ingredients in my pantry. I immediately fell in love with it, and hope you do as well!
1 Quart of no sodium added chicken broth
1 butternut squash, steamed and cubed
1 avacado, diced
1 can diced tomato (or dice fresh tomatoes if you're up for it!) 
1 can black beans
1 can no sodium added corn
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (I use my Kitchenaid to shred)
Rice, if desired
Salt, Pepper, garlic, cumin, coriander to taste. I play with the spices each time- it's a personal preference!
Literally all you have to do is mix all ingredients in a slow cooker and heat thoroughly. The soup is chunky, full of good-for-you veggies, and makes enough for at least 5 people, or lunch for a week!

2. Creamy Tortellini Soup

I have made this soup and it's a great comfort food! Not as nutritious thanks to the pasta, but makes an excellent pre-long ride (night before) meal to help you stock up on carbs and yummy greens!
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • ¼-cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 package (12-ounces) frozen tortellini
  • 1 bag (5-ounces) fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup cream OR milk OR half-and-half (I use 2% milk)

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan or soup pot.
  2. Add onion, garlic, carrots, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper; cook over medium-low heat for 6 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
  3. Whisk in flour; whisk until crumbly.
  4. Slowly add broth and continue to vigorously whisk until everything is well combined and there are no clumps.
  5. Bring soup to a boil.
  6. Add frozen tortellini and spinach.
  7. Continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until tortellini is tender and heated through.
  8. Stir in cream or milk; bring back to a steady boil and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until smooth and thickened.
  9. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.
  10. Taste for salt and pepper, and adjust accordingly.
  11. Serve
Read more at http://diethood.com/creamy-tortellini-soup/#My6PiPUseFOO7vhq.99

3. Slow Cooker Vegetable Beef Soup

This is something you can also sub in venison for if you're a hunter like me (I haven't had to buy beef in two years!) I love this hearty, fill-you-up combo of meat and potatoes. Don't forget to remove those bay leaves, or if you do, play it off like my mom did when we were kids and act like that family member won a prize. 

1 – 1 1/2 lb Stew Meat cut into bite size pieces
24 oz thawed Frozen Mixed Vegetables
4 cup diced Red Potatoes
1 large Onion, diced
15 oz Diced Tomatoes undrained
15 oz Great Northern Beans drained
32 oz Beef Broth
1 1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
1 tsp Minced Garlic
2 Bay Leaves
1 tbsp Vegetable Oil


Season cubed beef with seasoned salt and pepper.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.
Brown beef in skillet on all sides.
Transfer beef to slow cooker.
Add remaining ingredients, stir and cover.
Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
Test doneness by checking potato to see if it is soft and beef to make sure it is not tough.
Remove bay leaves and serve.
Recipe in full here: http://cincyshopper.com/slow-cooker-vegetable-beef-soup/ 
4. Home Made Egg Drop Soup
My fiance actually made this for me one night unexpectedly, and I have to say I was very proud of him! 
  • This went well with home made egg rolls (or, the frozen kind, adjust to the level of fanciness you're feeling!) 

  • Ingredients:
  • 4 cups good-quality chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3 green onions, sliced thin (about 1/4 cup sliced), plus extra for garnish
  • 1/4 cup whole-kernel corn or creamed corn (optional)
  • salt, to taste (I use about 1 tsp - I like my soup salty!)
  • black pepper, to taste (I use about 1/4 tsp.)


    Whisk together chicken stock (chilled or room-temperature), cornstarch, ginger and garlic powder in a medium saucepan until combined and no lumps remain. Heat over high heat until boiling, stirring occasionally.
    Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs and egg whites in a small measuring cup or bowl. (I find the measuring cup easier for pouring.)
    Once the broth reaches a boil, remove from heat. Then use a fork or whisk to stir the broth in a circular motion, while slowly pour the whisked eggs into the soup to create egg ribbons. Stir in the sesame oil, green onions and corn (optional) until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    Serve immediately, topped with additional green onions for garnish.
  • Recipe here: http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/egg-drop-soup/ 
5. "Best Ever" Mushroom Soup

I love mushrooms. My fiance claims he does not like them, but then he eats them all the time (without them even being hidden) so really, he likes them, too. They are so full of delicious vitamins, minerals, and provide a unique texture that I enjoy. Add a tasty, whole-grain grilled cheese and I am here for it with a napkin!

  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1 package white button mushrooms (10 oz) sliced
  • 1 package baby portobello mushrooms (10 oz) sliced
  • 10 stalks fresh thyme, leaves removed
  • 1 cup organic vegetable broth
  • 1 tbs. tapioca flour
  • 1 cup almond or cashew milk (unsweetened)
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • ½ tbs. liquid aminos (GF) (or soy sauce)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • freshly ground pepper
    1. In a large saucepan, over medium heat, add the diced onions. Allow to sweat while slicing the mushrooms. About 5-7 minutes.
    2. Move onions to the sides of the saucepan and add mushrooms, allow to cook 5 minutes uncovered.
    3. Stir the onions and mushrooms together. Add fresh thyme and allow to continue to cook, at least 10 minutes.
    4. You will notice a substantial amount of water has come out of the mushrooms, and they are reduced in volume by half.
    5. Add the bay leaf, the salt and the liquid aminos to the mushrooms.
    6. Stir the 1 tbs. of tapioca starch into the organic broth. Add to mushrooms and stir. Add almond milk.
    7. Allow to cook for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper to taste.
    8. This soup is amazing the next day as well and can easily be doubled.
    9. Add cashew cheese, Parmesan cheese or enjoy the soup just as it is!
Read more here: http://www.pancakewarriors.com/best-ever-mushroom-soup/

6. Italian Orzo Spinach Soup

This is basically chicken noodle soup, but FANCY because of "orzo" and the spinach! I love Orzo because one bag will last you what seems like forever, and the whole wheat kind is small enough you can tell yourself it's the unhealthy kind and believe it, but really, it's not. If you're gluten-free, you can always just replace with a non-gluten option or leave noodles out completely! 


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 8 ounces) DeLallo whole wheat orzo pasta, or other whole wheat pasta
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 4 cups loosely-packed spinach
  • salt and black pepper


Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 4 minutes, until soft. Add carrots, celery and garlic and saute for an additional 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, orzo (pasta), thyme, oregano, rosemary and stir to combine. Bring soup to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente.
Stir in the spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes until it is bright green and wilted. Season with salt and black pepper to taste (if needed). Serve warm.
Full details here: http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/italian-orzo-spinach-soup-recipe/ 
7. Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
This one takes a little more prep than just slice, dice, toss, and heat, but it's worth it! A freshly-made tomato soup from whole ingredients is hard to beat, and it's full of anti-oxidants and other nutrients that are excellent for recovery. Do I splurge with an ooey-gooey grilled cheese? Duh. Of course I do. 
This recipe has directions for GRILLED CHEESE CROUTONS. If you need me, I'll be in the kitchen eating all the bread and cheese...
  • 2 1/4 lbs Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 1/4 lbs Cherry tomatoes
  • 4 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 2 small yellow onions, sliced just under 1/2-inch thick
  • 2 cups (32g) lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 4 - 5 cups vegetable broth
  • Grilled cheese croutons (optional), see notes
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with 3 Tbsp olive oil then season with salt and pepper (place Roma halves cut side upright). Place onion slices and garlic on a rimmed half sheet and toss brush with remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil on all sides, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place baking sheet with tomatoes and half sheet with onions in oven side by side and roast onions 30 - 35 minutes until edges are golden, and tomatoes 40 - 45 minutes until golden. Peel away any burnt papery layers of onions if there are any. Pull peels from tomatoes (I didn't do this with mine but later wished I would have so I'd recommend it so the soup isn't loaded with peels. If you want some peel then I'd peel at least half). Pour onions and tomatoes into a large pot. Add 4 cups vegetable broth and the basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, adding an additional 1 cup vegetable broth to thin as desired. Blend soup with an immersion blender or in small batches in a blender (only fill blender half full). Serve warm topped with grilled cheese croutons if desired.
  • Recipe source: inspired by Tyler Florence
For the grilled cheese croutons use 6 slices of hearty sandwich bread, brush outsides of all slices with 1/2 Tbsp of butter on each. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup (2 oz) shredded mozzarella or cheddar over non-buttered sides of three slices. Top with remaining 3 slices of bread with buttered side up. Cook in a non-stick skillet over medium heat, reducing to medium-low as needed, until bottom is golden brown. Flip and cook opposite side until golden. Cool just slightly then cut into squares.
Read More Here: http://www.cookingclassy.com/2015/08/roasted-tomato-basil-soup/

No comments:

Post a Comment