Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Dollar In My Wallet: Simple Lentil Soup

Part of this blog's purpose is to make off-campus living and eating feasible on a college budget--this can be a challenge while keeping up with classes and discovering your own skills at "survival" in terms of paying bills and rent, having food in the fridge, making sure you have the necessities, and managing cash flow.

Invariably there will be weeks you come up short. You overspent, money's gone, you miscalculated, i.e. you are living on a prayer and down to your last dollar, dime, nickel, penny.  If you have stocked your pantry, shelves, and freezer with some key items for times like these, you can still have a great meal. 

Many of these items come with coupons or go on sale. Even if you don't plan on using them that week, pick up one or two extras for the "lean weeks".

I would suggest stocking your pantry shelves with high-yield, nutritious dried goods with long shelf-lives:

Add in some canned / jarred goods:
--refried beans
--black beans
--green beans, corn
--tuna in water
--tomatoe sauce
--tomatoes, crushed, whole, diced

Add to your freezer:
--a few slices of bacon
--grated cheeses
--single serving meats

Keep in your fridge "longer-lasting" items as much as possible:

And sometimes, no matter what you do, you may have to borrow. During such times (hopefully, far and few between), making simple, high volume, protein-packed recipes like soup and stews can be a life- and money-saver. Additionally, they fit in one pot and require little skill to keep you well-fed.

I will be featuring a monthly series "A Dollar In My Wallet" to highlight such recipes when roadblocks come your way.  Simple preparation may make such moments less painful!

(Adapted from my own recipe and Martha Stewart's Fresh Food Fast cookbook)

Simple Lentil Soup

Dutch Oven or 5-quart Saucepan with lid

3 strips of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (replace with 2 Tbls olive oil if vegetarian)
1 large onion, chopped
3 medicum carrots, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbls tomato paste
1 (28oz) can San Marzano tomatoes, diced or crushed with juices
3 1/2 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 1/2 cups of water
1 1/2 cups dried lentils
1/2 tsp thyme
1 Tbls lemon juice or red wine vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper

1. Wash your hands.
2. Prep all of your ingredients, i.e. carrots, onion, garlic.

3. Sear your bacon in dutch oven over MED heat x 9-10 until crisp. Remove most of the fat.

4. Add your onions and carrots x 5 minutes.

5. Add your garlic x 30 secs.

6. Stir in tomato paste and tomatoes.
7. Add lentils, thyme, broth and water.

8. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to SIMMER and cover x 45 minutes.

9. Stir in lemon juice or vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
10. Get your bowl ready and top off with grated parmesan and parsley.

Invite your roommate. Pass the bread around the table. Never eat alone.

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