Mmmmm! There's nothing like a big pot of soup or savory stew simmering on the stove on a cold winter day. Couple that with the aroma of fresh baked bread and my mouth starts watering right away.
The great thing about soups and stews is that they work well for big batch cooking - as a matter of fact, they even taste better when made in a big batch, simmering slowly to blend the flavors.
I have a large electric roaster to cook my soup and by the time I finish adding ingredients, it is usually 3/4 full of delicious soup bubbling away. We always eat some of the freshly made soup, keep enough for a second meal or a few lunches and freeze the rest. That way, I only have to cook once to make several meals which is a real time, money and energy saver.
One of my favorite frugal soups is Bean Soup.
1 package of dried beans, soaked and drained according to the package directions.
1 small chunk of ham or a ham bone
4 large carrots,
3 stalks of celery,
1 medium onion
Seasonings to taste.
Water to cover the vegetables and ham.
Throw all the ingredients in a large pot (I like to use my large crock pot so this soup doesn't scorch)After cooking on low for 6 hours, I add 2 cans of diced tomatoes and cook on high for several hours to blend the flavors. This usually makes 4 to 6 quarts of soup which freezes well.
Another frugal tip for soup making is to save all your leftover cooked vegetables from other meals - you know - that spoonful of peas which doesn't seem like enough to bother with? I put the leftover veggies in a freezer bag each day and when I make soup, just take it out of the freezer and toss it into the pot. That way, nothing goes to waste. You can do that with little bits of leftover meat too. Keep a separate zipper sandwich bag in the freezer with each kind of leftover meat and use it to help flavor your soups.
I freeze my soup in meal sized containers - our empty margarine containers hold about 2 cups of soup, just right for a single lunch meal.
For cream or milk based soups, you can make the soup and freeze your portions BEFORE adding the cream to it so it will keep better. Just thaw and reheat later, adding the cream at that point.