Sunday, September 2, 2012

Freezer Soups

I have posted before that I don't freeze too much in terms of fresh fruits or vegetables.  I did freeze a lot of apples last year though and they worked out great for pies and crisps and cobblers.  I will post my plans for those later, but today I though I would talk about how I freeze meals ahead for dinners. 

I have posted before about my crock-pot obsession and how I have several recipes for cooking with meat and beer. These days I tend to try to double up on these recipes and put a batch in the freezer for later.  The recipe for French Dip Sandwiches can be used as such or thickened with a little flour when re-heating for Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches.  Last weekend I fired up 2 crockpots full of Beef Stew, and now I have 4 meals worth in the freezer. 

I also made my Salsa last weekend, which inspired me to make Julia's favorite:

Tortilla Soup

1)  Combine in crock pot:

1 quart "Salsa Juice"  see my Salsa recipe, previous post
3 chicken breasts
1/2 can beer (I threw this in for a little more liquid.)

2) Cook 5 hours on low in crock pot or until the chicken will shred easily.

3) Add 2 c sweet corn and 1 pint salsa.  (I used fresh corn that I cut raw from the cob)

4)At this point I devided this into 3 portions and froze two in Food Saver bags*.

5) The third portion I stored in the fridge for a couple of days until I was ready to serve.

6) Before serving add 1 c shredded sharp cheddar and 1/4 c sour cream.

7) Heat to desired temp.  Top with crushed tortilla chips and more salsa.

Note that I freeze everything except the dairy ingredients.  This saves room in the freezer, time on my bulk cooking day, and I think it tastes better when you add the dairy ingredients fresh.

*Tip:  When I freeze soup in the food saver bags, I use a large bag and freeze it flat, so that it is no more than an inch thick.  That way to thaw, you just pop the bag into a sink of hot water and it is ready for the pan in 15 minutes or so.

I used this strategy to make another favorite soup which contains a lot of my favorite short cuts:

Brocolli Potato Chowder

1)  Combine in a large soup pot:

1 large vidallia onion, chopped

1 pound chopped bacon ends (I get these at the butcher, they are cheaper than the sliced bacon, usually lean and thicker sliced than regular bacon, they work great for soups)

Saute these until the bacon browns and the onions are translucent.  Pour off any excess bacon fat

2)  Add:

1 bag frozen hash brown potatoes (the cubes, not the shredded ones)

2 pounds fresh chopped broccoli

4T chicken soup starter (this is like a paste that is in the grocery store soup section next to the boullion.)

1 T Italian seasoning blend

Enough water to cover.

3)  Bring to a boil and add 1 box of orzo pasta.  Cook 5 minutes or until the orzo is done. 

4)  This is when I divide this one for freezing.

5)  To reheat, add grated sharp cheddar to taste (about 1/4 c per serving) and just enough half and half to give a nice white color to the soup.  You can also use milk.  I sometimes add a little flour when the soup is cold to thicken it up a bit.  As long as you stir well and don't add the flour to the hot soup it will not make lumps.

I have also frozen a simpler version of this soup with just the broccoli and onions.  I froze that one in smaller portions so that I can make it up and take it to work for lunch.