Five years ago, I would’ve never “allowed” myself to eat or buy anything processed. That included any canned, or packaged food from Macaroni and “cheese” to canned fruit. I know if I have to purchase something in those aisles times are tough. My spouse re-introduced me to Ramen a distant food I rarely consumed in college but saw plenty of in each resident hall. He didn’t have quite the luxurious life I had growing up so as we headed down the economic decline in went the packages of Ramen into our cart as well as an open mind.
What surprised me most about his recipe was not just how easy it was, but how healthy he made this seemingly horrible food item. While on $200.00 a month for food for two grown adults we had to become very, very creative and very, very cheap. Things we bought in bulk that really lasted were good looking yellow onions, 5-10 lbs bag of potatoes and finding a great deal on fresh herbs helped dramatically.
Here’s one idea that literally saved us from starvation:
2 pkgs of Ramen noodle (we liked the chicken flavor)
1-2 small potatoes chopped
1 Rutabaga (if large only use 2-3 thick slices and chop or cut triangularly) if less than 1/2 lb use the whole thing
1 carrot sliced/diced or grated
2-4 mushrooms diced
Cilantro Handful added right before serving
Spinach also works nicely when added towards the end of cooking. Makes the soup look healthy, and fresh with it’s bright greenery and adds all those B vitamins as does Cilantro.
2 chive stalks diced and added right before serving
Most people would look at this as a cheap soup idea. With my nutrition background I just love how healthy this soup really is. Google all the health benefits of Cilantro, add some chopped Garlic and you’ll have the common cold at bay for most of the year. I never thought of adding Cilantro to Ramen so please try, what a great flavor (I am not big on cilantro at all). Chopped Parsley just doesn’t do the trick, and too much basil or oregano seems to negate whatever the Ramen’s trying to create so just a little with other spices.
This brings me to my infamous “Sick Soup.”
Similar but not as gross as my childhood friends mother who would make “Cream of Everything Soup.” I made my “Sick Soup” before economic decline with all organic roots and vegetables like Burdock, Miso, Tofu, Seaweed, and Daikon Radish, now my Sick Soup is anything left in my produce drawer, freezer, or lower pantry shelves where we may luck out and find one or two onions, and a few potatoes left in the bulk bag. Luckily, for those that are adventurous this soup ALWAYS varies. That’s the whole idea, if there’s a respiratory bug going around be more generous with the herbs such as Basil, Oregano, Rosemary, and Marjoram.
Here’s what you will need as a base at all times….
SICK SOUP BASE
1 package of Ramen (if you screw it up, they only cost 22 cents)
1/2 pack of Ramen seasoning (use more if your family has salt addicts)
1 medium or large onion
3 cloves of garlic
Start large pot filled with water, heat to a boil add seasoning and Ramen Noodle. Reduce heat to medium or medium low to maintain low boil . Chop or dice all onion and garlic and sautee in a bit of veg oil for about 7 minutes under medium heat. II usually start the chopping while the water’s heating and add everything at about the same time. Add to a large pot where you have left plenty of room for whatever else is in your freezer, or fridge.
Van’s March SICK SOUP
1 small turnip (hey root vegetables are healthy and cheap)
2 long carrots julienned
1 small purple potato
3 thick tomato slices cut in half
6-8 generous sprigs of parsley diced and added towards end of cook time
Marjoram generous pinch
Oregano generous dash
Cayenne pepper powder, the more the house has the sniffles or “coming down” with something the more I add
1-2 extra cloves of garlic added during cooking (this will add nice punch and great additional health benefits)
Boil all ingredients for about 8 minutes with the lid on at low to medium heat. Keep in mind that if you are cooking for health don’t over cook all the vegetables just until tender or preferred texture.
I always fill the largest pot I can find and if needed add some extra salt and be generous with the black pepper. The idea is to use the least amount of Ramen flavor and the most of your own ingredients be it fresh or frozen.
Keep in mind that any root vegetable has a much more bland taste after cooking so experiment with small slices of rutabagas, turnips, daikon radish, black radish, sweet potatoes. They add a great punch of nutrients with little alteration to the soup base. What I like about rutabagas is that they keep very well in the fridge crisper drawers and if you only use a few thick slices it will keep nicely for 2-3 more weeks in the fridge even after cutting as long as it’s dry.
With sick soup it’s easy for the whole dish to taste like a garlicky salt sea with hints of the powerful herbs you’ve chosen to add. I have literally been able to fight off numerous colds with this recipe.
If you can’t seem to balance the flavors add the remaining Ramen flavoring. I find it helps set a direction to the soup’s flavor but shouldn’t be the only thing you taste.
If you don’t have some of those items on hand, a small onion, carrot, and garlic clove (or powder) will do just fine.