I taught some workshops over the weekend at a local Women’s Conference for our church.  We tackled a bunch of common challenges people face when it comes to getting meals on the table and some ideas for solutions.  Two of the most common issues we hear are “I have no time!” and “I have a low budget!”  So I set off to follow my own advice and create a quick and easy meal out of some really inexpensive ingredients.  My aim was to demonstrate that inexpensive and easy doesn’t have to mean tasteless and boring!

I opened up my pantry in search of the most plain, cheap ingredient I could find, and my eyes immediately spotted these:

Ramen noodles!  Twenty cents.  I remember when I was in college (which wasn’t that long ago) they were a nickle a piece.  If I ever have to pay more than a quarter for a pack of ramen I’m not sure I could do it.  With a few simple, and relatively inexpensive ingredients that I already had on hand, I could take plain ol’ ramen and turn it into something amazing.  I purposely kept this really simple and omitted a long list of ethnic ingredients often called for in similar recipes.  You can certainly add other things like garlic, lemongrass, fish sauce, curry paste, chili paste, more veggies, etc.  But the whole point of this recipe is to be quick, easy, and affordable!  I’ll promise you’ll be impressed at what so few ingredients can do, this soup is really good.

Start with  a little minced jalapeno and ginger.  The jalapeno doesn’t add any heat, just flavor- this isn’t a spicy soup at all.  (Click here for a tutorial on working with jalapenos.) I usually have fresh ginger in my freezer (click here for info and a tutorial on fresh ginger) but you could use dry ground ginger as well.  You could certainly add minced garlic in here too; I didn’t because I was going for super quick and easy and I didn’t feel like looking for my garlic press.  True story.

Give it a quick saute to soften the texture and  mellow the flavors

and then add in some chicken broth

and some coconut milk, which will give the soup a creamy texture and a subtle sweetness.  Light coconut milk works great, and remember you can buy coconut milk in cartons by the dairy milk as well, and it’s much cheaper per ounce there than it is for a can.  At my store it was .05 cents per ounce, which would make the equivalent can about .67 cents.  Generally a can of coconut milk $2- $3 a can so the carton is a great deal comparatively.  The cartons are lower in calories and fat and have a consistency similar to the light coconut milk (which is thinner than full fat coconut milk).  For some recipes I prefer canned coconut milk, but for this soup, either will work just fine.

Once that mixture comes to a simmer, add in the ramen noodles.  Don’t add in the seasoning packet that comes in the ramen- you can ditch that.  I always break mine up because I think it’s easier to eat when the noodles aren’t 27 feet long.

Just cook it for as long as it takes your noodles to cook, which is only about 3-5 minutes.  If you like mushrooms, you can add some in now and simmer for a couple of minutes.  Then add in a little diced chicken.  I used leftover rotisserie chicken, which makes it even quicker and easier.

Since the chicken is already cooked, it just needs to heat through, so just let it cook for a minute to do that and then remove the pan from heat.  Finish it off with a big squeeze of fresh lime juice and some chopped cilantro.

And then you can garnish it with more cilantro, a sprinkle of green onions and a lime wedge.

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Creamy, flavorful, and delicious.

The best part is that it can be on the table in less than 20 minutes and it clocks in at only about $1.20 per serving.  Not too shabby!



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