23 October 2012

Frugal Tips: The Magic of Soup

This post is written by contributing author Nicole Hart.

Frugalcharacterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resource (Merriam-Webster).  I am a word nerd... so when I volunteered to write about living frugal  I immediately turned to a dictionary to get a little clarity on the subject.

I myself try to be frugal. Beside growing up with limited resources, one of my early inspirations in frugality was "The Good Earth" by Pearl S. Buck. The main character O-Lan pinches pennies (metaphorically - story takes place in China),  as only I could imagine doing; she scrimps and saves, making every scrap of fabric and morsel of this or that count. I remember also practicing at a lovely Zen center in Portland when I lived there, being moved when one of the zen masters said with great clarity, "Even the scraps in your sink belong somewhere," and it is with this in mind that I try to be frugal and waste not.  These experiences made an impression on me and started me on my path to living frugal. Life is a journey, we find pieces of the past started the story long before we realize where it would lead us. I have found myself dancing to the beat before realizing there was music playing.   

So many of us work 40 hours a week to provide our families. This takes time away from the ones that we love, and to remember this when spending or not spending is of great help in making our lives richer. I will throw out tips and helpful advice once a month as a reminder to myself as well you, fabulous readers out there, trying to live simply... as respectful citizen of this green planet.  

Photo by Nicole Hart

My frugal tip this month, because I love soup and the weather is perfect for it, is to make soup - a huge pot of soup.  Soup is quite affordable to make. Just takes some time to cook, makes the house smell amazing and will give you a healthy addition or meal to munch on instead of the eating out. 

Soups can be frozen and used for at least a couple of weeks (if not longer). One of my favorite types of soup is a ten bean soup. It requires soaking of the beans overnight or a quick boil - set aside and cook method.  All of the bags of bean soups that I have bought have cooking directions on the back. 

Easy ways to spice them up is to add celery, carrots, red peppers, onion, garlic and your choice of seasoning (I use black pepper, salt and cayenne... oh and curry).  Once you've soaked your beans or had them sit a bit after the quick boil, you'll want to brown your veggies using about 1/2 cup (or more) of each of the veggies listed. 

Cook in a skillet until golden brown (with oil or butter) and add to your pot of soup. Just stir regularly on medium heat. If you are interested in adding a little extra flavor, chicken stock (or vegetable stock) can be used in place of about 1/4 of the water. Your soup will thicken the longer you cook it. I usually cook mine for a few hours. You can also add corn starch to thicken.   

This is just one quick recipe and idea for living frugal. Cooking meals at home in general will stretch your resources and slow you down some to enjoy how wonderful life really can be.  Hope you've enjoyed this little side trip in your journey.  

I'd love to hear your comments or questions. How often do you make soup yourselves and what is your favorite recipe?

Nicole Hart is a Louisiana native (currently living in Virginia)  with strong ties to her Cajun ancestry. Very blessed to come from such a lively, loving and colorful culture. She has been writing for decades and thought it time to share and grow. Recently written her first published article for a local paper in the little town she lives in and volunteered to write for Eco Etsy, which she is thrilled about!! She also creates, mostly with textiles and has a shop on Etsy. A mom, wife, daughter and sister, Nicole is currently living in a quaint historic town, about an hour outside of D.C., in Virginia. She enjoys beautiful seasons, mountains, rivers and is close enough to visit the seemingly never ending museums and goings-on nearby.