These Healthy-Ish Soups and Stews Are Budget Friendly, Too

Gabi Moskowitz is the editor-in-chief of the nationally-acclaimed budget cooking blog BrokeAssGourmet.com. She is the author of several cookbooks, and the co-producer of "Young & Hungry", a Freeform comedy airing Mondays at 8/7 Central. Now in its fifth season, the show is inspired by her life and writing. She lives in San Francisco.

When making a decision, my husband likes to examine if something is a good idea using a formula he calls "comfy now vs. comfy later." Said otherwise, "I want to do this thing, and doing it will make me comfy now, but will it make me comfy later?" Prime example: blowing off work and errands to lay on the couch and watch season 3 of Star Trek: The Next Generation may feel comfy now, but tomorrow, when you have to rush to finish that work and errands? Not so comfy. The idea is to work toward a comfy future -- to set your future self up for success. Which brings me to this week's menu theme: Soup.

Why are soups, stews, chilies, and tagines worth the trouble? The answer is multifold. First, save for indulgent, cream-based soups, most of these one-pot wonders tend to be fairly healthful. They're also an easy way to feed a crowd (or yourself for several days), and they can serve as your whole dinner, or just a part, if you want to add a salad and some crusty bread or maybe biscuits. Best yet: they freeze beautifully. I often make a big pot, and immediately after cooking, freeze half of it in single-serving portions future me (or my aforementioned thoughtful husband) will always have a wholesome, homemade meal at the ready.

Here are the soups and stews that are inspiring me this week.

sweet potato white bean chicken stew
Image Credit: Gabi Moskowitz

This hearty Sweet Potato Chicken and White Bean Stew is one part chili, one part chicken soup, and all parts soul-satisfying yum. Tender sweet potatoes thicken it up, and white beans and chicken provide protein and fiber that will keep you satisfied. I love to top it with avocado, but a few good dashes of hot sauce or a swirl of sour cream/plain yogurt would be equally at home here.

pea soup with parmesan, scallions, and basil
Image Credit: Gabi Moskowitz

You may think of pea soup as a smelly, ham-filled soup of yesteryear but this green goddess of a soup is a different animal. Rife with fresh spring flavors, and as easy as dumping a few cheap ingredients into a pot and pureeing them, this is a show-stopping, gorgeous way to start (or be the star of) a meal.

faux (but delicious) pho
Image Credit: Gabi Moskowitz

Though this pho is not exactly authentic, it's my favorite fix when that familiar craving for flavorful broth, tender meat, and slurpy noodles comes over me. I love chewy rice noodles, but when I'm watching the carbs, I opt for low-cal shirataki noodles instead.

spicy corn chowder
Image Credit: Gabi Moskowitz

This spicy corn chowder gets its creaminess from potatoes and a touch of half-and-half (as opposed to heavy cream). If you're a vegan, swap in coconut milk for the cream for a different but equally delicious take.

lamb tagine
Image Credit: Gabi Moskowitz

Tagine, a savory, intensely spiced Moroccan stew, takes a little forethought and a handful of spices, but it's all worth it because this is the ultimate set-it-and-forget-it dish. Gamey lamb cooks low and slow in a flavorful broth until it's practically falling apart. Tagine is typically served with couscous, but I also love it with quinoa, brown rice, cauliflower rice, or even on its own.

Here's your grocery list:

Pantry

Vegetable or olive oil

Ground cinnamon

Ground turmeric

Chinese 5-spice

Chili powder

Ground cumin

Flour

Golden raisins

Slivered almonds

2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes

honey

salt

pepper

4 15 oz. cans vegetable stock

1 6-ounce can coconut milk

soy sauce

2 15-oz. cans white (cannellini or Great Northern) beans

Asian fish sauce

Asian chili sauce (like sriracha or chili garlic paste)

rice vermicelli noodles or shirataki noodles

Produce

1 red onion

garlic

ginger

1 red bell pepper,

2 carrots

1 bunch fresh cilantro

4 white onions

1 medium baking potato

1 bunch fresh scallions

fresh or frozen corn kernels

1 10 oz. bag frozen green peas

fresh basil

3 medium sweet potatoes

1 lime

1 lemon

2 green jalapeños

2 stalks lemongrass

Dairy/Eggs

Unsalted butter

half-and-half

jack or pepper jack cheese

grated Parmesan

Meat/Poultry

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite-size pieces

1 pound boneless lamb stew meat (cut into 1" pieces)