Cheat Meal: Chicken “Cheat” Soup

Chicken soup

This is a shortcut for making very good chicken soup; in a pinch you can even use frozen veggies! The prep and cooking times may vary depending upon the options you choose: employing frozen diced carrots will cut prep and cooking time, although using fresh will produce a better end result.

Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes


  • 1 rotisserie cooked chicken (available in most supermarkets)
  • 3-4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced (if pressed for time, you can use frozen, diced onion)
  • 1TBSP garlic paste
  • 1TBSP lemongrass paste
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 cup coined carrots (use pre-peeled baby carrots, thinly sliced, or, use frozen diced carrots)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked rice (I have even used leftover rice from Chinese takeout!)
  • 2TBSP parsley (fresh is best, but dried is fine)
  • 1TSP each: cumin, onion powder, turmeric
  • 1TBSP olive oil
  • Salt/pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions:

  • Remove meat from cooked chicken; the fastest way to do this is by hand, but you can use a knife if you prefer. Strip the skin from the bird before removing the meat
  • In a pressure cooker, heat the oil until a few drops of water sizzle when dropped in. Add the cumin, onion powder and turmeric, along with the diced onion.; stir for about a minute to activate the spices If you are using fresh celery and carrots, add these to the pot and stir over med-low heat for 3-5 minutes
  • Add stock to pot, along with chicken and cooked rice
  • Add salt/pepper to taste
  • Seal pressure cooker and leave to simmer for 20-25 minutes

Servings suggestions:

  • For a bit of texture, you can top with fried shallots, or onion strings (even the canned ones will do!)
  • This reheats well — bring leftovers for lunch!
  • If you prefer, freeze it in pre-portioned freezer bags (make sure that it is cooled enough!) Using freezer bags instead of containers will allow you to layer multiple portions and lay flat — this is a real space-saver

Vegetarian Chili

vegetarian chili is an inexpensive and tasty meal with great depth of flavor

Want to incorporate more vegetarian options in your diet? Looking to get more fiber, more veggies and greater economy into your cooking? Veggie chili is a great way to provide cost-effective, healthy and tasty lunches and dinners. This can be modified to many different taste profiles–experiment and see what you like!

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cooking Time: 60 minutes

Note: For the sake of convenience, you can use canned beans; if you want better texture and taste, I suggest using dry beans: these need to be cleaned (to remove any small stones, or broken pieces) and soaked.

Cooking Instructions:

“Bean Base” — I suggest using a “mix n’match” approach to veggie chili — a variety of beans can make for better taste, better texture and a more visually appealing dish.

What goes into a good “Bean Base”? It’s a matter of preference, but these varieties, in a mix, provide a balance of taste, texture and color.

  • Canned, or dried beans:
    • Red kidney
    • Pinto beans
    • Black beans
    • White kidney beans
    • Garbanzo beans
    • Navy beans
  • Veggies:
    • 1 large yellow onion, diced
    • 2 bags coined baby carrots
    • 4 stalks 1/2″ celery– 1/2″ dice
    • 1 large sweet potato — 1/2″ dice
    • 2-3 diced bell peppers, to taste
  • Stock/spices
    • 3-4 cups vegetable stock, as needed
    • 4 bay leaves
    • 2 TBSP thyme
    • 2TBSP ancho chili powder
    • 2TBSP smoked paprika
    • 2TBSP salt
    • 2-3TSP pepper, to taste
    • 3-4 crushed garlic cloves
    • 1TBSP Sriracha
    • 1TBSP Cumin
    • 1TBSP ground mustard
    • 2-3TBSP olive oil

If you are using canned beans, heat up oil in stock pot. Add spices and mix for 2-3 minutes to activate. Add in veggies and stir until celery is translucent (approx. 5 minutes).

Once veggies and spices are melded, add beans and stock. Simmer for 40 minutes, testing seasoning periodically.

To produce a flavorful dish, simmer for about 90 minutes. This dish reheats well and is great for weekday lunches!