Having a studio apartment can be a bummer when it comes to cooking. When I had roommates, I always had at least a little bit of counter space on which to chop my veggies, cut up some meat, and leave a trail of mess. Plus, I had people to share food with!
When I moved into my studio apartment, I loved the fact that I could decorate it however I wanted, and that the small space was mine, all mine. But the lack of cooking space — I did not love that so much. I found myself ordering out more and more as I stared over at my four inches of counter space from my bed, frowning. And sure, I tried cooking a few times. But when your kitchen is in your bedroom, it can be a little... scary. OK, a lot scary. Then I found the perfect dinner solution — soup.
Even with a serious lack of space, these three winter soup recipes can be thrown together in less than 15 minutes, and I promise that nothing will explode. You don't actually need any counter space if you shop correctly, but the standard 12-by-12 square of countertop most studios come with will be more than enough.
Homemade soups are one of the best parts of winter. They're cheap, comforting, healthy, and easy to make. Don't let a small kitchen prevent you from enjoying them. Below are my three favorites, updated to be convenient for a kitchenette like mine.
TURKEY CHILI TO WARM UP
You know when you come home on a cold day and find yourself shivering because the studio apartment heat that you don't control isn't on yet? Turkey chili can help with that.
Directions: Put on your puffy coat and walk furiously to the grocery store, where it is warmer. Then, buy the following: pre-chopped onions (frozen is OK); a can of red beans; about a pound of ground turkey (or just use leftover cooked turkey cut into little pieces); a can of crushed tomatoes; chicken stock; Mexican seasoning of any variety; sour cream and cheese for add-ons.
Walk home, satisfied with yourself.
Create your masterpiece of laziness and warmth:
1. Find a deep cooking pot and place it on a burner. Light the stove to medium-high. Pour some olive oil (about one tablespoon) in the pot, and allow time for it to heat up.
2. Then, throw two handfuls of chopped onions into the hot oil and stir for two minutes while your hands warm up.
3. Add a healthy pinch of salt and a half teaspoon of Mexican seasoning to your onion mix; stir around and smell the goodness.
4. Toss ground turkey or leftover turkey pieces into the pot. If you are working with raw ground turkey, cook it by sort of mashing it around in the pot with a wooden spoon, breaking it up. This should take about five minutes, and it is your arm workout for the day. If you are working with cooked turkey, just heat through for about a minute.
5. Pour tomatoes and red beans in. (Drain and rinse beans first.)
6. Next, pour enough chicken stock on top to cover everything with liquid. Now heat to a boil, then put a lid on it and simmer.
7. Let everything simmer, covered, for up to 30 minutes. Taste and add salt or more seasoning if needed, but remember that the flavors get more concentrated as you cook. If the liquid gets too low, simply add more stock or water.
You're done! Finish with sour cream and cheese. You are a culinary genius!
KALE, WHITE BEAN, AND SPICY CHICKEN SAUSAGE SOUP TO FEEL HEALTHY-ISH
The key ingredient to this hearty soup, obviously, is the chicken sausage. You can also use pork sausage to up the flavor. Whatever links you choose, I would recommend getting a brand with "spicy" in the title, and get precooked sausage — it's so much quicker and it adds a ton of flavor. So much flavor, I'd argue, that you don't need any salt, and you can skip the whole onion step altogether if you'd like.
First, you buy. This is a shopping trip even easier than the chili one. Buy one of those packages of precut and washed baby kale, a bag of frozen chopped onions, a can of white beans, chicken stock, and a package of precooked chicken sausage, olive oil, and, well, that's it.
Then, you make. This is so easy:
1. Place your pot on a burner, turn on the flame, and place a bit of olive oil in the pot. Stir onions into the oil, turn down the heat, and wait for three minutes.
2. While you are waiting for your onions to cook, cut two precooked sausage links into slices and throw them into the pot. Turn your heat up to medium, and cook slightly.
3. Then, add about half a cup of stock (no need to measure, just a healthy pour) and about half the package of kale. The kale should wilt down into the stock within a few minutes. You may have to stir it to help it along.
4. Next, drain the beans and add them to the pot.
5. Then, add as much chicken stock as you'd like, and bring to a boil. Then turn down the heat to simmer to keep your soup warm for when you go back for seconds. At this time, you can also add more kale and other frozen veggies if you'd like.
You're done! And you have soup to eat! And it has vitamins in it!
CHICKEN OR TURKEY CURRY SOUP TO REV UP YOUR DAY/NIGHT
Who doesn't like curry? And who doesn't like soup? This soup is like your mom's chicken soup, but with a little edge. A co-worker told me how to make it after I ogled her lunch, and it's been a staple ever since. It's a little fancier than chicken soup, and it only takes about 15 minutes to make when you buy for a no-chopping-zone kitchen. Also, when I eat it, I sweat a little, in a good way. P.S. This would be a perfect use for leftover turkey, too.
Buy: precooked chicken (or use leftover turkey); chicken stock; frozen peas; pre-chopped onions and peppers (frozen is OK); frozen rice in a bag; curry powder, coconut milk or regular milk.
1. Place your soup pot on a burner, turn on the flame, and add a bit of oil — it's nice to use coconut oil for this if you have it, but if not olive oil or butter works very well too. Wait a minute for the oil to heat, then throw two or three handfuls of frozen or raw chopped onions and peppers into the pot. Cook onions and peppers for two minutes, stirring.
2. Add about one and a half teaspoons of curry powder to the onions and stir it in. Add less if you don't want it too spicy, more if you like it spicy.
3. Add precooked chicken or turkey pieces and stir them into the curry mixture for a bit. It's OK to add more oil if you think it seems too dry.
4. Pour a bunch of chicken stock over your curry creation, stir, then allow the liquid to come to a boil.
5. Add about a half cup of coconut milk, and again boil. Then, turn the heat down and allow the liquid to simmer. Once it is simmering, microwave that bag of frozen rice.
6. Add frozen peas, as much as you'd like, for color. Stir.
7. Add cooked rice. Stir.
Yay! You're done! If you want to be fancy-shmancy, add some cilantro for garnish and flavor.
Rachael Ray would be proud.