And just last week, I used shrimp. Now, before you question my frugality bona fides, let me explain that such indulgences are usually strictly reserved for very special occasions in my household. However, my local grocery store happened to have a special introductory price for a new line of fish products they are carrying, so I snatched up a couple of 1-pound bags of pre-cooked shrimp for the amazing introductory price of $5.
Now, that's still a good deal more than I typically budget for the protein portion of any meal. But I only spent a total of $55 on groceries last week, so I still remained within our weekly budget of $30-$35 per person (it's just the two of us now).
I made some pretty major tweaks to the original recipe to make it more of a full, hearty meal, loaded with vegetables, fiber -- the way I like my meals. I am more than pleased with the results, and this soup gets rave reviews from my husband and kids.
Among the cost saving changes I made to the recipe were the substitution of whole grain angel hair pasta for the rice noodles in the original recipe. They are cheaper and contain more fiber, so this was an easy choice. You could also use vermicelli or thin spaghetti. But if you have your heart set on rice pasta, or you wish to eat gluten free, I strongly recommend the brown rice variety.
This recipe also calls for grated ginger. Nothing quite matches the intensity of flavor of freshly grated ginger, but I happened to have a tube of commercially prepared ginger on hand from when it was on sale, so I used that instead.
I don’t often choose such conveniences, but in this case, it was a very good buy - on sale, of course! - and it keeps a good long time in the refrigerator.
Some new cooks, in particular, might need to ease into the whole cooking thing, so this is one simple way to make that transition easier.
This soup is a very tasty one, and very quick, too. It’s another meal in a pot, which is exactly the kind busy households need.
Here’s the recipe:
Makes 6-8 servings
Prep Time – Approx. 20 minutes
Start to finish time – Approx.20 minutes
Total recipe cost – $6.00 - $10.00 (depending on protein choice)
Total per person meal cost with salad – $1.25-$2.00
2 tablespoons canola and/or chili oil
1 large bunch green onions
1 small onion
4 cloves garlic
1 medium ginger root
2 tablespoons pre-minced ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
1-2 tablespoons lime juice (one lime)
8 cups water
1 vegetable bouillon cube
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 14-ounce can mushroom pieces
10 ounces of fresh mushrooms
6 ounces whole grain angel hair, vermicelli of other thin pasta (rice or wheat)
6 eggs, or any fish of your choice (canned salmon, tuna, etc.)
1-2 heads Bok Choy (1-1.5 pounds)
1 small head of cabbage
2 medium carrots
2-3 large leaves of escarole, or 1 cup of packed spinach leaves (optional, for added color)
- If you are using them, wash the green onions, cut off the stems, and cut them crosswise into disks all the way up the green part. Separate the green and white part. You will use the green parts for garnish at the end.
- Or, if you’re using an onion, cut off the stems, peel it and cut it in half. Place the flat side down and cut each half crosswise into thin half-moon strips.
- Mince the garlic.
- If you are using ginger root, grate it to make 2 tablespoons.
- If you’re using fresh mushrooms, wash them in a bowl of water by gently rubbing them all over to remove garden soil. Slice them and set them aside.
- Meanwhile, wash the Bok choy or cabbage. Cut them into strips or pieces about 2-inches in size.
- Wash and peel the carrots, Cut off the ends and then peel them into ribbons.
- Heat the canola and/or chili oil in a large pot with a lid over medium heat.
- Add the white part of the green onions or the strips of regular onion to the oil once it’s hot. Cook them for a minute or two and add the minced garlic, and cook it about a minute longer, stirring almost constantly.
- Add the 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, the 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and the 2 tablespoons of ginger. Stir everything to blend well.
- Stir in the 2 tablespoons of lime juice, the cut up mushrooms, the cabbage or bok choy and the carrots. Stir them to coat them well with the seasonings. Continue to cook them, stirring frequently for about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the 8 cups of water and break up the bouillon cube into it.
- Cover the pot and turn it to high and bring the contents to a boil. Stir it occasionally to make sure the bouillon cubes are completely blended.
- Meanwhile, if you are using escarole or spinach, wash the greens and cut them up into pieces about 1-inch in size. (if it’s baby spinach, you don’t need to cut it up at all)
- Break the 6 ounces of pasta in half or into thirds.
- Once the broth is boiling, add the pasta and the escarole or the spinach, re-cover the pot, and resume boiling.
- Set the timer for however long the brand of pasta calls for., usually about 5-6 minutes.
- Break the 6 eggs into a bowl and beat them with a fork or whisk.
- When the pasta is done to taste, carefully drip the beaten eggs into the hot soup, stirring them constantly. They will cook pretty much immediately. Or, if you are using fish, add it at this time. Mix the contents of the pot well and cover it. Turn off the heat and let the contents heat through.
- Serve the soup garnished with the green onions, if desired, along with a tossed salad for a very nice meal.