Soup is a wonderful, inexpensive way to fill your freezer with meals. Danny loves soups, stews, and chili. When we were first married, I never made him soup. I also never knew how easy it was to make.
This is an easy, healthy, freezer-worthy recipe. If you have a big enough pot, double the recipe. It’s fast to assemble and doesn’t take much babysitting while simmering. If you precook your ground beef or pre-chop your onions and have them on hand in the freezer, it’s even faster and you could save money by having bought them on sale.
Soups, stews, and chilis also make for fast lunches. I like to send individual serving sizes to work with Danny for his lunch with a couple of dinner rolls from the freezer as well. From October through February or March, you will usually find at least a dozen containers of soup in my freezer alongside my other OAMC dinners.
Storing soup, stews, or chili in your freezer is simple. For the space-limited freezer, ladel into quart or gallon size freezer Ziploc bags and lay flat to freeze. When they are frozen, line them up like books on a bookshelf in your freezer to save space. To make filling the bags easier with less spills on the zipper-part (which makes sealing the bags more difficult), place a canning funnel in the bag and ladel soup in the bag through the funnel.
Thawing food that has been frozen in Ziploc bags is easy as well. Either thaw in your refrigerator overnight or hold the bag under lukewarm running water breaking up the frozen chunks as it warms. Or you can dump the frozen contents into a baking dish or pot and warm on the stove.
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
½ green bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 14.5-ounce cans pinto beans or red kidney beans (approximately 3 2/3 cups)
2 cups water
1 4-ounce can green chilies, diced
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 package taco seasoning mix
Brown ground beef with onion until there is no pink left in the ground beef. Drain off any grease. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour. Allow to cool. Place in freezer containers or freezer bags. Label and freeze.
To serve: Thaw. Heat until hot and bubbly. Serve with corn chips and shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream. Or serve with shredded cheddar and fresh cornbread.
Variations: Use black beans instead of pinto beans or kidney beans. Or use a combination. You can s-t-r-e-t-c-h this recipe by adding extra beans or extra canned tomatoes. And you can make it even healthier and less expensive if you omit the ground beef and replace it with 2 extra cups of beans.
EXTRA TIP: Did you know you can freeze grated cheese too? It's better than freezing a block of cheese. A block of cheese frozen tends to crumble easily when thawed.