Easy Chicken Bean Soup

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. A lot. Making all our food from *mostly* scratch means that as soon as one meal is eaten and cleaned up, it's time to start on the next one...at least, it sure feels like that sometimes.


One way I like to help with this, and free up our mornings for more reading, outside time, and learning play, is to make a soup on Monday and just reheat it for lunches during the week. I'm usually able to make enough for four days, and so we also throw a "fun lunch" in there, something like lunch meat and crackers or tuna and chips. This option is too expensive to eat every day, but (like the soup) takes very little prep. This has really cut down on my time in the kitchen, for both cooking and cleaning, and takes a huge load of during the day.


A couple quick tips for making this work for you:


1- Make stock or broth frequently. This food is so incredibly nourishing and can be used in many ways. You can drink it, warmed and plain, add it to rice in the place of water, or (obviously) use it to make soup. And since I make my stock using whole chickens, I also have bags of shredded, cooked chicken in the freezer at all times. This means that "making soup", for me, is essentially chopping up some vegetables and throwing everything in the pot, since the other elements are already prepared and waiting for me. Couldn't be easier.


2- Experiment! Soup is hard to mess up. My rule of thumb is to start with a base of onion and garlic, sautéed in your fat of choice. From there, add the meat you want (chicken, sausage slices, ground beef) and the vegetables you want (carrots and celery are very versatile, as are peas and spinach!). Other additions can be thrown in, like beans, lentils, or potatoes. Cooking times will vary, based on the ingredients and rawness of them (raw vs cooked chicken, dry vs canned beans). If you're using an Instant Pot, keep in mind that items with longer cooking times can be started, and ones that need less time can be added at the end for another minute of cooking, or to heat through using the sauté function. Add LOTS of herbs and seasonings. We buy bulk herbs from Amazon and are always incorporating basil, thyme, oregano, and bay into our cooking. You'll learn which flavors are your favorite! Liberally add a good quality salt. If you want a creamy soup, add your cheese or milk at the end of the cooking time, before serving. And that's it! Once you get the hang of it, it is so much fun to be able to quickly throw together some raw ingredients and have a delicious, warm, nutritious soup in a relatively short amount of time!


3-Mix up the sides. Serve with rolls, breadsticks, crackers, or chips, depending on what kind of dietary restrictions you are observing. Fruit and sliced veggies can also add some contrasting flavors and textures.


This week, I made a simple soup using some cans of organic Northern beans I found on the discount rack at the store. Remember that a lot of this is customizable; if you love onion, add more! If you don't like spinach, don't add it! I used Northern beans because that's what I had, but feel free to sub in your own favorite!



Easy Chicken Bean Soup


Ingredients-

  • 4 Tbsp olive oil

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 5-7 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 6 carrots, chopped

  • 1 Tbsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp celery salt

  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley

  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano

  • pepper to taste

  • 4 c. cooked, shredded chicken

  • 2 cans of Northern beans

  • 1 1/2 c. frozen spinach

  • 5 c. broth or stock



- Heat up your Instant Pot using the "Sauté" function. Add the olive oil and onion. Cook until the onions are translucent.

- Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute or two.

- Sprinkle in the seasonings and mix well.

- Add the rest of your ingredients, stirring together so they are incorporated.

- Add the stock.

- Use the "Manuel" setting to cook for 5 minutes.

- Turn the valve to instantly release the Instant Pot. Give your soup a stir and add more salt and pepper if necessary.


Enjoy!



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