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This soup may not be the prettiest one you could make, but it is really, really tasty. It’s also perfect for a cold winter night when you need something warm and comforting.

I’ll be honest – I don’t love the flavor of seaweed. It is very nutritious, however, so I try to get it into our meals whenever I can. Frying the seaweed gives it a nice crunch, but it still maintains a strong “sea” flavor after it is cooked. Don’t taste the dulse chips and be alarmed by it. Even if you don’t like the flavor of seaweed, try adding a very small amount to your soup bowl and then taste it. If you can’t taste it add just a tiny bit more. You’ll still get the trace nutrients from the dulse without having to taste the seaweed flavor.

november-30-pics-110A handful of dulse. It has a beautiful brick-red color.

I have never actually eaten hot & sour soup at a restaurant before. I came across a few different versions of recipes for this soup and decided the basic ingredients sounded tasty, so I put together my own version. It is quite spicy, but not all that sour. Not knowing what an “authentic” hot & sour soup tastes like this may or may not taste like what you would eat at a chinese restaurant.

If you are a broth person, like I am, you will love this soup. I could have just skimmed out the broth and drank it from a mug all night long. If you like spicy foods, you will love this soup as well. Either way, it is delicious and I highly recommend it for the cold evenings of winter.

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Dulse Chips

2 handfuls of dulse seaweed
coconut oil for frying

Heat a small skillet over medium low heat. Add coconut oil. Add one handful of seaweed to the oil. Stir to coat. Cook it for about 3 minutes, turning occasionally, until it is brown, but not black (burnt). Transfer to a plate and start the second batch. Set aside until soup is ready.

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Hot & Sour Chicken and Cabbage Soup

Recipe notes:

  • This soup is quite spicy when finished. If you want to play it safe, add less pepper flakes and black pepper, taste it after it simmers and add more to taste.
  • Other additions to this soup could include bean sprouts, cilantro or parsley.
  • To garnish soup simply crunch up the dulse chips over your soup bowl.
  • I served this with a pot of brown rice to cut the spice down a bit for my toddler. Egg rolls or vegetable fried rice would be another nice accompaniment.
  • You could also use cooked chicken meat from a previous roasted chicken. Simply skip the browning step and add it with the stock/water.
  • Finally, this looks like a lot of ingredients, but it comes together very quickly.

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
1 Tablespoon sesame or coconut oil
1/2 large yellow onion, sliced thin
3 celery stalks, sliced thin
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce (I used reduced sodium version)
10 c. chicken stock or combination of chicken stock & water (I used 1/2 water, 1/2 stock)
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
12-15 grinds of black pepper
1 Tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (could also use lemongrass, but I didn’t have any)
1/2 large head of cabbage, sliced thinly
salt to taste
2 eggs, beaten

In a large pot heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken, celery and onions. Season with salt. Cook until the chicken is brown on all sides and the vegetables have softened. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add vinegar, soy sauce stock/water, pepper flakes, black pepper, fish sauce and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to low, cover and allow to simmer for two hours. Taste broth and add salt if needed. Add chopped sliced cabbage and cook until just tender, ~10-15 minutes. Taste again for seasoning and add more salt and or acidity if desired. When the broth tastes well seasoned, remove the pot from the heat. Slowly stir the beaten eggs into the hot soup. (The hot broth will cook the eggs if you are concerned.) Garnish with dulse chips.

See Tammy’s Recipes for more recipes and tips.

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It has been one month since we started this no-spend challenge, and we are halfway through. I feel like I have gained so much perspective from this experience. In considering purchases we want to make in the future I want to be more mindful. I am reevaluating our budget and how much we really need for the basics. I have broken myself of the habit of just running out and buying something. While I didn’t do that often, it is better not to have that option at all. This week was a really good end to the first month, let’s take a look…

Food

Spent: ~$6. I had no expenses for milk & eggs this week because we stocked up last week. While my father-in-law was here he did some grocery shopping at the health food store we normally shop at. He agreed to barter some pre-made food that I had in the freezer for a few items from the grocery store that we might need. The $6 is the amount of cash we had to pay on top of our bartered items for the grocery store items. We enjoyed a lovely no-spend Thanksgiving meal (besides the disastrous cake) on Thursday and on Friday we received our bulk food order that we purchase around once per year. This contained dried beans, millet, cans of coconut milk, coconut flakes, dried apples & raisins, bulk spices, nuts & seeds, peanut butter and sesame & olive oils. So we are set on pantry items.

Here is the tally of fresh items remaining for December:

  • 1 quart of applesauce
  • 5 onions = 1 onion/week
  • 5 heads of garlic = 1 head of garlic/week
  • 1 cabbage
  • 1 bunch of carrots
  • 1 head of celery
  • 6 winter squash

It is time to start getting creative with the dried and frozen goods in the house!

Car Mileage

I forgot to get the receipt from my husband for this week’s gas purchase. I believe we spent less this week than last week, so I will put it at $11.00.

Other Expenses

Spent: $0

The only bill we paid this week was rent for the month of December.

Laundry

Still not finding the time to hang up laundry. I hope this changes soon, but there are just too many other things to keep up with right now. Like my over flowing diaper bucket and a kitchen stacked with dirty dishes.

Wrapping it up

Total spent: $17.

I’m really happy with this number and am encouraged to see that I think we will make it through December without having to make any unnecessary trips to the grocery store. Hopefully by the end of the year we will be paying a big loan payment.

How is everyone else doing?

We begin week four.