Many store-bought convenience foods are simply not an option for those of us who embrace the lifestyle of eating whole foods, and living simply and sustainably. Canned and packaged foods tend to be chock-full of preservatives, unhealthy fats, and other additives — not to mention, they are usually expensive if you're buying them as a regular part of your food shopping.
But oh, the convenience! When my family and I started moving into eating GNOWFGLINS — “God's natural, organic, whole foods, grown locally, in season” — as our entire diet, I missed the ability to grab a packaged mix and pull together a quick meal.
So a few months ago, when I was approached by a publisher and asked to write a cookbook about homemade pantry staples that could take the place of the store-bought versions, I jumped at the chance. I want the world to know just how easy it can be to eat well! It isn't the same as tearing open a packaged mix, but it is absolutely doable and deep-down satisfying.
Today, since it's January and the doldrums of winter have just begun to set in, I thought some nourishing comfort food from my book might be just the ticket. In our house, this chicken noodle soup and cornbread often grace our lunch table. Here's to your health, and a joyful January!
Chicken Noodle Soup
On a cool, rainy Saturday, make a triple batch of this and freeze it in portions. Warm up a pot of it when you feel a cold coming on, or when you simply need some comfort food. It's no more work than opening a can, and it provides vastly more nutrition! If you'd rather not use soggy noodles, keep the dry noodles out of the recipe and add them when you serve. You can also use fresh pasta, as found on page 102 of my book.
- 3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely minced
- 4 carrots, peeled and finely diced
- 2 celery stalks, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- 3 cups chopped or shredded chicken (cooked or raw)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup dry soup noodles, vermicelli, or gluten-free noodles, broken into pieces
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas (optional)
- 2 green onions, minced (optional)
Makes 3 quarts. From the new book The DIY Pantry by yours truly, Kresha Faber.
In a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and salt. Toss to coat. Sauté only until the onion and celery begin to wilt, which should take 2 to 3 minutes. If using raw chicken, toss the pieces in and continue to sauté until cooked through. This should take around 5 minutes. Stir frequently.
Add in the garlic and the thyme and sauté for around 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock and bring to a steady simmer. Cover and reduce the heat to medium/low. Cook for around 10 minutes, until the vegetables are fork-tender. Add the dry soup noodles, peas, and cooked chicken. Simmer uncovered for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, until noodles are cooked but not soft and the chicken is warmed through. Spoon into bowls and top with minced green onions, if desired. Store the chicken noodle soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
For an extra nutritional, feel-good punch if you're fighting a serious cold, add an additional 8 cloves of garlic (minced), a 2-inch section of fresh ginger (cut into matchsticks), and 1 small Thai chili (minced). Toss them in just before you add the stock, and your cold will be gone before you know it!
If you combine the first five ingredients and store it in an airtight container, you can turn this recipe into a cornbread mix to keep for later. This will save for up to 6 months.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour [edit by Wardee: I would use sprouted spelt or a gluten-free blend]
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup melted butter
Serves 4. From the new book The DIY Pantry by yours truly, Kresha Faber.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9″ × 9″ pan or a deep-dish pie pan with butter. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and crack the eggs in. Whisk them lightly. Add in the milk and the melted butter. Stir until combined. There shouldn't be any lumps. Pour the batter into the prepared dish and bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until the top is just beginning to brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
New! The DIY Pantry
The DIY Pantry is hot off the press and can be found in bookstores nationwide. Look for it on the “featured” table at your local bookseller or find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powell's Books, or Indiebound.
What pantry staples have you made over to healthy, homemade versions? Please share in the comments — links are welcome.
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