I know. The title of this post is akin to the miracle of the fish and the loaves. However, no miracles were performed. Instead, just some thrifty stretching of food with my trusty slow-cooker. Also, I want to hasten to add that these 3 meals were for Clif and me, just the 2 of us. Yet even with this qualification, 3 meals from 2 chicken breasts and 4 sweet potatoes come under the heading of pretty darned frugal, which can only be a good thing during this very cold winter. And tasty, too, if I do say so myself.
Here is what I did. I took 4 medium sweet potatoes and cut them into large cubes. (I didn’t peel them.) I sprinkled salt and pepper on them and added a cup of water. I put two large chicken breasts on top of the sweet potatoes and seasoned them with more salt and pepper as well as thyme and sage. (I didn’t measure. I just sprinkled liberally.) Then I added two cloves of minced garlic. Onion lovers could certainly substitute or add onions as well. I set the slow-cooker on high and let everything cook for about 4 hours.
On night 1, we each had half a chicken breast and some sweet potatoes. Clif and I could have eaten more, but we refrained, which meant that we had both leftover chicken and sweet potatoes. Also, there was a lovely broth from the water and the chicken. I removed the chicken and sweet potatoes from the broth, and put them into separate containers.
Because I have a large refrigerator, I left the broth in the slow-cooker’s crockery and tucked the whole thing in the refrigerator. The next day, I used this as the base for meal 2.
I put the crockery with the broth into the base of the slow cooker, and turned it to high. I added 4 cups of water; 1 whole onion, peeled; 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped; 1/2 teaspoon of salt; and 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper. (Actually, I didn’t measure the pepper. I just ground some in.) If I had had some celery, I would have included a rib or two in the stock, but I didn’t.
I let the stock bubble on high for about 5 hours. Then, I removed the onion. Into the slow cooker, I added the sweet potatoes, with the skins removed, and using my immersion blender, I pureed the sweet potatoes into the stock. Right there, I had a lovely, creamy soup that would have been fine just as it was.
However, Clif likes his soup to have ingredients, and if we do have a creamy soup, he loads it with crushed saltine crackers. Knowing his preference, I usually add ingredients to most every soup I make. So into the sweet potato soup I added the leftover chicken, chopped into large pieces, and 2 cans of black beans. In the refrigerator, we had leftover couscous, and I added that as well, but any small- or medium-sized pasta would work. (Because pasta and couscous have a tendency to swell, the next time I make this soup, I would add warm pasta or couscous or even rice to the bottom of each serving bowl and ladle the soup on top.)
I made some biscuit muffins to go with the soup, and Clif was a happy husband.
The third meal, of course, was leftover soup and biscuit muffins.
Now, this kind of meal could be amended in a couple of ways. For those living alone and who have a small slow-cooker—yes, Megan, I am directing this at you—the ingredients could be halved, and you would get at least two meals from this. For those with a bigger family, load that slow-cooker right up. In fact, maybe even have 2 of them going.
However it is done, you will still have 2 or 3 thrifty meals, perfect for this time of year when the nights are long and oh so cold.