Thursday, November 15, 2012

Food Stamp Challenge: Day 3 & Lentil Soup

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This lentil soup is actually one of my favorite soup recipes; I make it a couple of times each fall/winter. I was very excited to learn I could afford the ingredients on my food stamp budget. I adapted the recipe slightly from a William Sonoma cookbook. Not only is it wallet-friendly, but it is healthy, super easy to make, and very filling. I was also able to buy a small whole-wheat baguette for only $1.69, and have been eating a bowl of soup and a piece of the bread for lunch each day this week. Although this soup is so flavorful, I have to admit I am getting a bit sick of it eating the same thing every day. But when you are on a budget, you don't necessarily have the luxury of variety. I used up a lot of my budget on these ingredients, so I did not have the money for a lot of other options. That said, the soup is really delicious and makes a great fall/winter winter meal as long as you don't eat it every day. 

To make the lentil soup you will need: 
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced thin
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf or 1 teaspoon crushed bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups dried brown or pink lentils; picked over, rinsed, and drained
  • 1 lemon, sliced horizontally -- skin on
  • 1 cup (2 oz/60 g) fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 7-8 cups broth. Usually I used two boxes of  vegetable broth, but to save money, I used bouillion cubes. There was no noticeable difference in taste.   

Getting all of this prepped ahead of time makes the cooking so much easier! 

The lemons add such great depth to the flavor! 

Saved the rest of the bunch for dinner later in the week!  

First, heat the oil in a large pot for approximately 1-2 minutes. Then, add the onions, shredded carrot, and garlic, and sauté them for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

Next, stir the curry powder into the veggies and cook for about 1-2 minutes or until you smell it wafting out of the pot. The curry smells SO good mixed in with the other seasonings! After tasting it, I can assure you it smells A LOT better than it tastes at this stage!

Then, add the can of diced tomatoes (including the juice), the bay leaf, the lentils, the chicken or vegetable stock, and the lemon slices. Bring the whole pot to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once it starts to bubble, reduce heat to medium-low and partially cover the pot. 
Simmer the pot on the stove, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft, which should take about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, much of the broth should have absorbed into the lentils, and look like this:

Next, scoop out the lemon slices and bay leaf. If you used crushed bay leaves, just leave them in there. Then, add the chopped spinach into the pot and give it a good stir. 

Truly treasuring some of the only greens I've seen all week! 

Let it cook for another minute and the take it off the heat. You can add salt and pepper to taste, although I don't think it needs anything else! 

I actually forgot to scoop out the lemons until after I tossed in the spinach. No biggie, just pulled them out afterwards!

Lunch for the week!

Come back this afternoon for Amanda's hearty and delicious baked ziti recipe! 

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