Serious Eats: Recipes

Eat for Eight Bucks: Roasted Carrot-Fennel Soup

Roasted Carrot-Fennel Soup [Photograph: Phoebe Lapine]

After I graduated from college and began eating lunch in my office cubicle, I discovered the hard way that it is possible to blow your entire paycheck on make-your-own deli salads. I'm sure many people can relate to this lunchtime predicament, and I'm positive that those sad souls with similarly meager paychecks also began reverting to the brown bag routine, as I eventually did.

Towards the beginning of this new tactical approach, I would stock my desk drawers with cans of soup. If I hadn't brought in my own salad, or leftovers from the night before, I would turn to this drawer for sustenance.

It is for this reason that when I think of thriftiness, I think of soup. Soon, I learned to make pots of my own at the beginning of the week, which stretched my budget a lot further than the $3.00 daily can and pushed my creativity to make humble veggies like these carrots and fennel into something rich and decadent.

This soup requires very few novel ingredients. But by roasting your vegetables, the flavors concentrate and caramelize, and you wind up with a pretty standout soup, equally worthy of the dinner table as the brown bag, especially if you supplement it with some good bread and softened, salted butter.

Shopping list: 1 large fennel bulb, $2.00; 1 pound carrots, $1.00; 1 onion, $0.40; 1 quart veggie stock, $2.50; 2 tablespoons butter, $0.25; 1/4 cup white wine, $0.50; 1/2 cup heavy cream, $0.30.
Pantry items: olive oil, salt, sugar.
Total cost (for 4 portions): $6.95

About the authors: Phoebe and Cara are the co-founders of Big Girls, Small Kitchen, a food and cooking website for twenty-something cooks looking for user-friendly, affordable ways to navigate their kitchens. They have a heated, decade-long rivalry about whose Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie is the best. Their book, Big Girls, Small Kitchen, will be published in the spring of 2011 by William Morrow. Visit their blog here.

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