~ Use a good base: Got some chicken or veggie broth handy? Maybe a simple cream of tomato soup or some vegetable or squash bisque? Some frozen or canned vegetables, or perhaps some beans? Throw some of these together with some good spices, simmer, and you’re done. If you have a bit more time on your hands and like creamy v. brothy soups, take about 2/3 of what you’ve cooked, puree w/a hand blender, and add the remaining ingredients to get a nice hearty soup. As long as you have a good starting base and not just plain old water, you’re almost halfway there.
~ Combine leftovers w/the aforementioned good bases for a satisfying lunch: When I’m pressed for time, I’m a big fan of the boxed soups that Trader Joe’s carries. They’re all very basic and delicious on their own, in flavors like Sweet Potato Bisque, Creamy Tomato, and Roasted Red Pepper, Butternut Squash, Creamy Corn & Roasted Pepper, this apple one whose proper name escapes me right now… they have a great variety. But I see them as the beginning of a great meal and the end of stashed leftovers. Today, for example, I had a little bit of my mom’s Arroz con Pavo still lurking in the fridge here at work and added it to the Creamy Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper, and it was such a yummy and filling lunch! Another extremely simple combo is to add frozen veggies to the Vegetable Bisque, nuke, and add some crushed red pepper flakes and you’re on your way to a very fast and easy work lunch. They run between $2.29 to $2.49 for 16 oz. I know I’ve seen similar boxed soups at major chain grocery stores for a bit more, but if you can’t afford those, even a regular old can of cream of tomato soup can become a monumental affair.
There are endless possibilities in the land of soup and for those of us on a tight budget, this is wonderful news because that means there’s always something delicious and filling on the horizon. You know how much I preach about creativity in the kitchen (or the office break room), and I will continue to harp about it now: think outside the box, and you’ll never feel like you’re missing out, just because money’s tight.