The summer holiday months have ended, it’s back to school and back to the grind, otherwise known as the nine to five. As we enter autumn/fall each household will be looking around for the cheapest energy deals, to save money as usage will increase. When it comes to feeding a family one has to be savvy, and clever with where to shop and when to get the best deals to help reduce the impact on utilities in the autumn and winter months. You’ll also need a few wholesome and healthy meals ideal for the season we’re entering, that could last a few days once frozen.
Homemade Traditional Caribbean Soup. (Serves around four-six people).
This is a great meal idea that can be adapted to suit your family’s taste. You can have a plain version, or keep it nice and spicy to warm up those winter cockles. Soup in the cooler months is always a winner, and filling. Serve this with some crusty buttered bread. Caribbean cooking is all about cooking with passion and flavour, measurements of ingredients are more to your personal taste, less strict! The cook is in control when it comes taste and perfection. Taste until you have the flavour just right.
One large saucepan, the larger the better.
Boiled hot water.
A packet of dry noodle soup. (Chicken, plain, beef or spicy depending on your taste).
Cornflour. (Fine texture).
Meat of your choice: chicken legs /thighs, cuts of beef, or even fish can work.
*Two carrots, three potatoes, two leeks, half of a pumpkin. Any seasonal vegetables you wish to add. Chilli peppers.
An everyday seasoning for all food or meat seasoning.
Table salt & pepper
A cup of cold water.
A nob of butter
* Smaller or larger quantities can be used, you can also vary the vegetables to your taste.
Step One: Boil enough hot water to fill your large saucepan. While you wait for the water to reach to a boil, clean your meat and remove any skin. Season it well using meat seasoning, salt and pepper, and chuck in anything you feel will go well with your meat. Caribbean cooking is about flavour, so don’t be shy with the seasoning! Chop the meat up into chunks if you’re not using chicken legs or thighs.
Step Two: Add the meat to your boiling water and allow it to boil on a mid- high heat.
Step Three: Wash and cut up your carrots, leeks, potatoes, pumpkin, chilli and seasonal vegetables. Add these to the meat in the boiling water. Allow to boil. Add in (to your taste) some mixed herbs and a touch more everyday meat seasoning for chicken or the meat you’re using.
Step Four: Add a cup of plain flour to a mixing bowl, add half a cup of cornflour, a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper to your taste. Finally, slowly and carefully, add in some cold water from the cup to the flour and cornflour mixture. Feed the flour with water until you build up the consistency of the mixture, that’s firm and almost has a playdough feel to it. This is what you will use to make your dumplings to add to the soup. If the mixture becomes too watery or sticky add in some more flour (slowly) if it’s too dry add a drop more of water. Once you have the right consistency, break off the dough and roll into sausage shapes, and round balls. Flatten out the balls with the palm of your hand to a disk shape. Make as many dumplings as you wish, add them to the boiling broth of meat and veg.
Step Five: Add to the boiling broth your packet noodles, half a cup to start with of cornflour. The cornflour’s purpose is to thicken up the soup. In the Caribbean soup is not runny, it’s thicker than tin soup and very filling. Remember that as it boils it will thicken so it’s best to go slow and add more if needed. You can’t take back what you add, so keep an eye as it boils on the thickness, better to be more reserved than go overboard here. Leave the soup to boil on a low-level heat for about thirty-forty minutes, or until the meat is soft and is almost falling off the bone. As the soup boils taste it to check it tastes to your liking, add more seasoning if need be or mixed herbs. Serve with buttered bread.
*You can freeze any left overs and eat within about two weeks.
Top Tips For Eating Healthy & Saving Money.
- Shop online where possible a number of by one get one free offers are online.
- Buy fruit and veg at the local market rather than supermarket. It’s often cheaper.
- Batch cook, and save left overs in the freezer.
- Plan your meals throughout the week, so that when you go shopping you are sticking to budget and not buying what you don’t need.
- Make things from scratch such as sauces and freeze them.
- Never go shopping on a hungry tummy! You’ll end up with all kinds of things…you really may not need.