Although I’m very willing to spend on food, I know that many people won’t. In fact, when I talk about the benefits of home cooked food, one of the more frequent excuse is: “Its cheaper to eat out”.
But it is not fair to compare nutritious home-cooked food with a meal at a mamak. We have to compare an apple with an apple. Let’s contrast a bowl of homemade soup to one that is available at Chinese restaurants. For the price of one bowl of soup , you could make a whole pot of it at home!
Even so, some people will still say at making nutritious food is expensive. Well, it doesn’t have to be if you know how to save and some cooking tricks.
This time, I thought of showing that making a pot of soup at home can be very affordable. Normally, I am very generous with my ingredients. This time, I thought of using the cheapest and the least amount of ingredients, to create an affordable yet nutritious soup.
- Chicken carcass – Old cucumber soup is normally made with pork bones. Of course, you can replaced with the more affordable chicken bones too. To make cut down the price even further, I use chicken carcass.
- Regular cucumber – Instead of using old cucumber I use regular cucumber which taste the same after cooking and is only half the price.
- Slow cooking – As we use very little ingredients, we want to extract as much flavour as possible to ensure that our soup still taste delicious. That is why we need to boil our soup for hours. I made collagen-rich bone broth often, and notice that the longer I cook it, the tastier and thicker it becomes (Read: Collagen-rich chicken broth)
Regular cucumber is half the price of Old Cucumber (photo credit: TESCO)
Active time: 15 minutes
Total time: 6 hour 15 minutes
Makes: 1L of soup/ Serves 4
Chicken carcass x 1
Cucumber x 1 (350 g)
Red dates x 10 pcs
Honey dates x 1
Goji berries x 1 tbsp
Dried cuttlefish x 1/2 slice
Water x 1 – 1.5 L
Salt x 1/2 tsp or more
Slow cooker/ pot
Knife + chopping board
- Clean chicken carcass. Remove fat, then blanched with hot water. This will help create a clearer soup.
- Rinse cucumber. Slice lengthwise and remove seeds with a spoon. Chop into large chunks.
- Rinse goji berries, red dates and dried cuttlefish. Snip red dates and dried cuttlefish into smaller pieces for better flavour.
- Add all ingredients and 1 – 1.5 L of water into a pot. Cook in the slow-cooker for at least 6 hours or longer.
Here’s a rough calculation:
- Chicken carcass – RM 2.21
- Cucumber -RM 0.90
- Others – RM 1
The pot of soup cost RM 4.20. It’s RM 1.10 for a small bowl.
(Note: I shop at a supermarket not known for its affordability)
- If you’re not on a tight budget, add more collagen-rich parts to the soup such as chicken feet, or even a piece of chicken breast. It’ll be much tastier. This particular combination, makes me want to put in a pinch of chicken stock powder to achieve the flavourful umami taste I’m so used to.
- There is many variation to this soup.
- If I want it to be more nourishing to the body, I’ll add some solomon seal (yu zhu in mandarin or yuk chuk in Cantonese).
- If I feel like more vegetables, I’ll add some carrots.
- You can use pork bones if you so desire. Although more expensive, many people say it’s tastier/ sweeter.
Eating nutritious food on budget is possible. We just need to be creative!