Wednesday, July 28, 2010

4 Soups, $5.00, 15 Minutes Prep in the Crockpot, Again!

Tuscan White Bean and Spinach Soup topped with fresh Parmesan

This blog post accompanies my talk on BTO for Friday July 30th.
**Edited to add- cinnamon roll recipe I spoke about here!

I had such a great time last time making soups in the crockpot for 5 bucks or less I decided to do it again! This time with a few more exotic options.

Lets get to the recipes!

Tuscan White Bean and Spinach Soup


3/4 lb dried small white beans- a whole bag is 1.09, so for this about .80 cents
2 sm cans (15 oz each) diced tomatoes, mine are .59 cents each, so 1.20
pkg frozen spinach, chopped (sm box) 1.25
4-8 cloves garlic, minced (I used about 6) .30
1/2 med onion , chopped.20
1 stalk celery diced .10
1 large carrot chopped .12
5 cups water or homemade broth or a combination of both
salt and pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
dried Italian seasoning, or if you don't have that, you'll want some basil, oregano, parsley and thyme and perhaps some rosemary, about 1 tsp each, or start with 1/2 tsp each, and taste it, adjust accordingly.

TOTAL $3.97


The night before, place beans in a bowl covered with water by 4 inches or so. They will expand.

The next morning when you are ready to make the soup, drain the beans and place in crockpot. And everything else except the spinach. Cook on high for 6-7 hrs. or low for 10-12. During the last half hour of cooking add the spinach and heat through. Remove the bay leaves. You can puree some of the beans to thicken it if you wish. Delicious topped with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

Options- Use fresh spinach, it will take 4-6 cups or so. The directions for it are the same, just add it in at the end of cooking. Or you can use kale or escarole.

If you want to add meat, ground beef is good, or small meatballs, add them precooked at any time.

You can add pasta to this also to make it very hearty. Add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup during the last hour of cooking. It expands alot, so beware.

Pesto would be a good topper for this as well.

Turkish Red Lentil Soup

1 lb red lentils-mine are from the bulk dept. at Fred Meyer-1.99 lb
1/2 med size onion, chopped .20
1 cup potato peeled and diced, I used 1 med potato .25
2 cloves garlic, minced .10
1 sm can (15 oz) diced tomatoes .59
8 cups water or homemade vegetable stock
2-4 tsp paprika (I used part sweet paprika, and some smoked paprika, your choice)
1-2 tsp salt (to taste) be careful if you are using bouillon or broth it may add a good deal of salt
cumin about 1 tsp (or more if you like)
coriander about 1 tsp (to taste)
2 bay leaves
2 or 3 pieces roasted red bell peppers chopped(from a jar) .50 (or if you have a fresh red bell pepper, than by all means add that, chopped.)
1/2 to 1 tablespoon vinegar for the end of cooking
TOTAL $3.63


Add everything to the crockpot except vinegar. Cook for 6-8 hours on high, or about 10 hrs on low. At the end of cooking, taste and adjust spices as necessary, add the vinegar. And remove the bay leaves. Puree with a stick blender, or regular blender or food processor if desired. Red lentils cook down alot, they don't keep their shape as well as the brown variety, so it will be sort of almost pureed.

Beef Barley Soup


1 lb. Beef Stew Meat (which is Round Steak) or you may use Chuck Roast or Chuck Steak, Chuck has a little more fat, and some would say a little more flavor, Round is much leaner, your choice.

Mine is from Stewarts, both are about the same price at $3. 39 lb.

1 onion chopped .33

1 lg carrot chopped .12

one stalk celery chopped .10

one clove garlic chopped .5

one cup barley (the whole pkg of barley at Fred Meyer is .59 cents for 1 lb.) one cup is less than 1/2 pkg. .30

bay leaf

4 0r 5 shakes of Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp dried Thyme

1/.2 tsp dried Basil

1/2 tsp dried Oregano

4 cups water or broth

Salt and pepper to taste

TOTAL $4.74


Cut the beef in cubes if it's not already. Salt and pepper all of the beef. In a large pan add a little oil. Heat the pan to med high. Wait until the pan is very hot. Sear the meat in batches, making sure not to crowd the pan. Turn the meat to get a nice sear on all sides. Add the meat to the crockpot.

** If you are on a very tight schedule and don't have time to sear the meat, go ahead and throw it in the crockpot as is. (After it's been salt and peppered.) The sear you get from pre browning it gives it a nice flavor, but the meat is still going to be nice and tender.

Add everything else to the crockpot as well. Cook on low is best for 10-12 hrs. Cooking the meat low and slow is going to result in yummy falling apart tender meat. If you need to cook it on high go ahead, for about 7 hrs. When finished taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Remove bay leaf.

Options- You can add sliced or chopped mushrooms to this. Or you can omit the beef and add a pound of fresh mushrooms sliced or chopped and have mushroom and barley soup.

If you want a more meaty soup, you can increase the beef, up to 2 lbs.

Persian Split Pea and Barley Stew

This recipe is based on one from the Moosewood Cookbooks


1/2 cup barley (from 1 lb bag which is .59 cents at Fred Meyer) .20

1-2 garlic cloves minced .10

bay leaf

1 cup split peas (from 1 lb pkg, less than 1/2 the pkg) .42

one small onion chopped .33

1 lg carrot chopped .12

2 medium potatoes peeled and diced into cubes .50

one 15 oz can diced tomatoes .59

1/2 to 1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 to 1 tsp ground cardamom

pinch to 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper

6 cups water or broth or combination of both

bay leaf

lemon juice for finishing (optional)

fresh parsley chopped for finishing (optional)

TOTAL $2.26 This amount baffles me! This stew has so much flavor and is so unique. But I warn you, you must like cardamom to like this dish. It's not for everyone, but I think it's absolutely delicious.


Place everything besides potatoes in crockpot. Cook for 10-12 hrs on low, or 7-8 on high. Add the diced potatoes at the last hour or 2 of cooking. OR if that isn't convenient for you, you may add the potatoes in the beginning, they will just be quite soft, but if that doesn't bother you, then go for it! When the stew is done, taste and adjust seasonings as necessary, remove bay leaf, and if using, stir in some lemon juice, and top the bowls with some chopped parsley.

A note about the spices in these recipes. I talked last time about buying spices, but if you are reading this and didn't read my last post, this is for you. The best place to buy spices is in bulk at a natural food store. In this area, the co-op in Olympia has bulk spices very inexpensively. Also Fred Meyer has a bulk spice section. This allows you to buy only the quantity that you wish. It really cuts down on waste, and lets you try different spices you wouldn't have tried otherwise.

Crockpot and Energy Usage
Did you know? Using the crockpot instead of the stove can save you money.
This Blogger Energy Miser 101, states that using her stove for 3 hours to cook a soup takes one dollars worth of energy, whereas using her slow cooker for 8 hours to make the same soup only cost .20 cents! She states that if she cooked a soup in the crockpot every week with a savings each time of .80 cents, she could save $50.00 a year!

This article, How to Use Less Energy While Cooking, states that using a crockpot costs .2 cents an hour, whether on high or low. Using an electric oven costs .30-.60 cents an hour, a gas oven is between .5-.10 cents an hour.