Serious Eats: Recipes
Eat for Eight Bucks: Lentil Soup
1 onion: $0.50
3 carrots: $0.75
Pantry items: Olive oil, garlic, dried thyme, tomato paste, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar.
Total cost (for 4 portions): $4.50
After last week's simple buttery pasta controversy, I hesitate to post my no-nonsense lentil soup. Nevertheless, here it is, because as far as I'm concerned it's really perfect December eating: healthy (unlike party food), flexible (who knows what's left in your larder), relatively fast (you're busy), perfect for making in advance (ditto), and warmly sustaining (weather outside possibly frightful, etc.). And if you count lentils and onions as pantry items, this classic churchmouse supper costs practically nothing.
This recipe is liberally adapted from Everyday Food Great Food Fast, but I never make it the same way twice. If there is bacon around, I start by cooking a few strips of bacon, chopped, and use that fat instead of olive oil. We are cumin addicts and so usually use 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds in addition to thyme. Celery often finds its way into the pot, as do other stray vegetables. I haven't tried a Parmesan rind, but it occurs to me now that that would probably be tasty. What are your lentil soup secrets?
(To preempt the question in the air: yes, the Bellingers do sometimes eat nothing but bread and soup for dinner. We are small and thrifty people. If your appetite demands more, you've got $2.50 left over to buy whatever you need to round out the meal: another vegetable, cheese, fruit for dessert, a bottle of plonk?)
About the author: Robin Bellinger is a freelance editor and shameless cookie addict. She lives in San Francisco and blogs about what she feeds her husband and her daughter at home*economics.