Sunday, June 20, 2010

4 Soups, 15 minutes, less than $5.00!

black bean and vegetable chili

This post is to accompany my talk on BTO for Monday 6/21/2010

I told Nancy and Elena this week I wanted to do a talk on making soups and stews in the crockpot, and that each one would be, under $5.00 (for the whole pot), take less than 15 minutes in prep work to make, and be made in the crockpot. I let them know I would take them some of the soups to taste for themselves.
The reason I wanted to do this is because I just know that if the people who don't cook, knew how easy it could be, so simple, and so inexpensive, that perhaps they may give it a try. I thought doing it in the crockpot would work well since you can leave it unattended. Perfect for us who want delicious food with very little effort. The crockpot (or slow cooker) allows you to leave your dinner cooking away unattended while you are away at work. To come home after working all day to a delicious and healthy meal hot and ready to be eaten is a wonderful thing.

These soups are really the definition of alchemy itself. Which is turning something of little value, into something of great value. I love that about cooking with simple inexpensive ingredients.
The great thing about these recipes specifically, is that they are based on dried beans and peas, and canned tomato products for the most part. Since these are good food storage items, you can learn and feel comfortable about using them. Also since you may store these items in the pantry, if you don't have alot of fresh food in the fridge, you can throw together a great pot of food! And if fresh vegetables aren't readily available, dried garlic, or dried onion can be used instead of fresh. Dried celery or celery salt and dried carrots may be used, instead of fresh, or be omitted altogether.

Here are some points I want to make before getting into the recipes.

1. Broth or soup base- The best broth available to you is broth you've made yourself. I buy chicken with the bone so I can freeze the bones until I have enough to make chicken broth. Also when I have celery or carrots that are wilting, I freeze them to make vegetable broth in the future. I figure since these items would be wasted anyway, the broth is basically free. You'd be surprised how much flavor you can coax out of a few vegetables. Once I only had some celery and some onion to make a broth out of, this time I used the celery leaves as well. (You normally wouldn't use the leaves because the flavor is very strong in the leaves and it might overpower your broth.) So I basically made a celery broth. I used it as the base of a chili recipe.
So the cool flavor of the celery worked well with the boldness and spiciness of the chili.
If you don't want to make broth, you don't need to buy it. Canned broth doesn't add very much in my opinion. On the other hand, you can make a broth with bouillon, (there are many good makers of bouillon these days, natural stores are a good place to find them.) You can also purchase a soup base. In the bulk spice section (locally the Olympia Co-Op is a good place for this) they sell vegetable, chicken and beef soup base.
Also, sometimes you don't need bouillon or broth you just need water. I'll specify what I think will work best in the recipes.

2.Spices- The best place to buy spices is the bulk section of a local natural food store. Locally, for me it's the Olympia Food Co-Op. Another option is Fred Meyer also has a bulk spice section.The great thing about buying spices in bulk is if it's something you aren't going to use much of you can just buy a teaspoon of it. So many times in the past I've purchased a jar from the grocery store of a spice I never needed to use again until 5 years later. Spices are best if used within 1-2 yrs so this is such a great way to purchase spices. Also even if you buy a whole jars worth, it's going to be a fraction of the price of that jar in the store. I'm always shocked about how little my spices cost there.

Another local source for spices that you can't find at the co-op, is a wonderful place in Downtown Olympia called Bucks Fifth Avenue. They carry every spice imaginable at very low prices. They will also ship to you, no minimum. This is a wonderful little store! If you go into downtown Olympia often this is a wonderful place to check out.

If you don't have a store with spices in bulk nearby, in regular grocery stores they have a "Hispanic" section where you sometimes can find basic spices in packages for .99 cents.

Shopping-I noted where I found most items in the recipes and the price I paid for them, but another option if you want organic beans and peas, the Co Op in Olympia has organic lentils, split peas and beans in their bulk section for not a whole lot of money more.
Onto the recipes!

Black Bean and Vegetable chili (pictured above)

1-1lb bag of dried black beans, $1.55 at Safeway if you go to Walmart, it's under a dollar
1or 2 onions chopped, (I used 1 and 1/2 in mine) .33 cents. Based on 3 onions in 1 lb, at 1.00 a lb.
2 carrots chopped fine, carrots loose, were 60 cents a lb at Fred Meyer where I bought mine, there were 6 in a lb, so the price here is .20 cents.
2 cloves of garlic, chopped. garlic is cheap. My estimate is .10 cents.
2 stalks celery. chopped fine. Celery is usually 1.00 for a bunch. The estimate is .20 cents
1 large, (28 oz) can of diced tomatoes, or 2 smaller ones, Safeway large can tomatoes is $1. 69, but at Fred Meyer I bought some small cans (15 oz) of diced tomatoes for .59 cents each, so if I used those, this estimate would be even less!
2-3 tablespoons chili powder (I chose not to figure in for the spices, since most people have a basic spice cabinet, but if you need to purchase them in bulk separately, they will be very little.
2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

total cost for whole batch $ 4.07 serves 4-6 big servings

optional for more spice- a diced jalapeno, a canned chipoltle pepper, or dried chipoltle pepper, or cayenne, or crushed red pepper. Depending on how spicy you like it.
optional for more vegetables, you could add some diced squash or some bell pepper, corn would also be great in this.
optional for meat-add some browned ground beef or some browned stew meat. Or even browned ground turkey or ground chicken, shredded chicken would be good too.
optional for topping-cheese or sour cream

Soak dried beans overnight in water. The next day rinse beans and place in crockpot with 2 cups of water or water mixed with bouillon. Either is fine. Add all other ingredients and stir.
Cook on low for about 12 hrs at least, on high for probably 8-10 hrs, this recipe takes some time because the dried beans need time to cook. Sometimes that's a good thing if you have to be away all day. Like most soups and stews this tastes better the next day. It also freezes well.

split pea with ham

I grew up eating split pea soup, this is one of my very favorite things to eat.
Super cheap too if you don't need the ham. I made mine with the ham, (My husband is a meat eater) although I can take it or leave it personally.

a 1 lb bag of split peas at Fred Meyer where I bought these they were a whopping .85 cents!
1 carrot chopped fine, .10 cents
1 or 2 stalks celery .10 cents
one onion or 1/2 onion chopped fine .33 cents
bay leaf
ham -which is optional, 3.50 for a ham steak I found at Fred Meyer
salt and pepper to taste
Total cost for whole batch which serves about 4 people $1.38! without ham
with the ham, $4.88 (still under 5 bucks)
also optional- a ham bone for cooking to accentuate the ham flavor if you have ham lovers, if it has meat on it, you can shred the meat off of it and use it in the soup.
Throw it all in a crockpot, along with 5 cups of water to start if you want it thick, you will probably need to add more later, otherwise you can use 6 or 7 cups. (I like mine thick). As it cools it will thicken more, just add a little water to reach your desired consistency.
Cook on low for 8 hrs or high for 6.
Minestrone with ground beef
This soup is so hearty and flavorful. Since it is broth based, it is one that benefits from the use of homemade broth or a broth made with a soup base, or bouillon. The meat really is optional, it's great and filling without it.

2 Sm cans (15 oz) diced tomatoes. Mine were .59 cents each. so $1.18
1 onion, chopped .33 cents
1 can kidney beans or garbanzo beans or a can of each if you wish, I used kidney, .85 cents
2 chopped carrots .20 cents
2 celery ribs, chopped .20 cents
3 cloves garlic, chopped .15 cents
1/2 to 1 cup pasta (I used macaroni) and I used 1 cup, it's alot of pasta, if you don't want that much just go with the 1/2 cup. 1 cup pasta .50 cents (based on 1 box being 2 cups and 1.00.)
4 cups homemade broth or broth made with soup base or bouillon
1-2 tsp dried basil
1-2 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
a pinch of dried crushed red pepper (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
total cost for whole batch $3.41 serves 4-6
optional for more veggies, add some chopped zucchini or other squash, or add some spinach
optional for meat, add 1 lb browned ground beef

Add all ingredients to crockpot except pasta. Cook on low for 6 hrs or on high for 4 or so. The last 45 min. of cooking add the pasta, and turn to high (if it's already on low.) And cook an additional 30-45 min. until pasta is done.
This is nice with Parmesan cheese on top, or even a spoonful of pesto.

Lentil soup with kielbasa
Lentil soup is so wonderful and nutritious. It's full of fiber and iron. This is another soup that doesn't need meat, but my husband likes to eat meat in most main dishes. (And all of these we ate as a main dish.) So that's why mine is shown with the kielbasa in the above picture. If you are also a meat lover, kielbasa is a nice choice for this soup, but sausage is good too.
1 lb bag of lentils .97 cents at Safeway
1 Sm (15 oz) can tomatoes .59 cents Fred Meyer
1 onion chopped .33 cents
2 ribs of celery chopped .20 cents
2 carrots chopped .20 cents
2 cloves chopped garlic .10 cents
4-5 cups homemade broth or water with bouillon or just plain water works too
1-2 tsp dried basil
1-2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried parsley
1 pinch of dried red pepper flakes (optional)
a splash of vinegar at the end for finishing
salt and pepper to taste
total cost for whole batch $2.39 serves 6 at least
optional for meat- add a diced browned kielbasa, or a pound of browned Italian sausage
optional for more veggies- add a package of chopped spinach
Add everything except vinegar to crockpot. Cook on low for 8 hrs, or high for 5 hrs. When done cooking add a splash of vinegar for a little brightness. Or lemon juice works for this too. You can't really taste it, it just wakes it up a little bit.

1 comment:

Jan Flores said...

These soups look great! I'll have to get myself a crockpot.
Lentil is my favorite.