Recipe: Thriftiest Lentil Soup

I really had to tighten up the purse strings this January. A couple of unexpected expenses and a weekend away (I spent last weekend in Oxford) meant there wasn’t much going spare. This soup was a lifesaver – ingredients I already had, but it was a completely different flavour and texture to what I was already eating. It added much needed variety but, most importantly, it was absolutely delicious.

 photo 0cbb1fbe-246f-48a3-a8b7-0fe174a24ede_zpsl50yjsmu.jpgOne of the best soups I’ve made. The idea came from Lottie, but I can’t say I hugely enjoyed the soup when I first tasted it. I panicked, added more garlic, and a load of fresh lemon juice. I found the zing really changed the soup, and I would definitely recommend it. I also liked stirring a cube or two of frozen spinach in, hence the green stuff. I’ve made it again since and simplified it down, so here’s the easy version!

It’s a pretty versatile soup too. The first night I ate it, I had it with some sausages. I ate it with a small slice of bread for lunch at work. I poached some chicken in the last (more liquid) portion. And at around 175 calories per portion according to MyFitnessPal it’s pretty much guilt free, so enjoy!

Ingredients (made 6 good sized bowlfuls)

  • 1/2 onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 5 carrots (mine were pretty small)
  • 4 sticks of celery
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 400g red lentils
  • 1l of chicken stock
  • Juice of 1 lemon

 photo 5bcf6628-5b1c-4d92-aed2-1ee2e2cf89cd_zpspw9csodi.jpgPeel and quarter each clove of garlic Finely dice the rest of the veg, and throw into a pan with a teeny dribble of oil and the garlic. Put on the lowest heat possible for a few minutes. Add the cumin and the thyme, turn the heat up, and fry until fragrant. Stir so it doesn’t catch and burn,

 photo c99219dd-f241-4ace-b30a-0ae2c8d330c0_zpsu9bpy9oc.jpgAdd the lentils and the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the lemon juice and serve, or cool and portion up. This freezes well, but also stores in the fridge for a good couple of days. Add spinach on reheating, if you like

>This is one of the only soups I didn’t get bored of after two days. It’s also especially good with Sainsbury’s Multigrain and Rye Bread, which I’ve become addicted to. I really should start making my own again…

Do you have a favourite soup recipe? What’s the cheapest meal you make?

Recipe: Curried Carrot & Lentil Soup

The perfect soup – filling and hearty. Easy to make. Warming. Slightly spicy. Goes equally well with bread as it does by the spoonful. It also helps that it uses up some of the 5kg of carrots inadvertently delivered by ASDA. I made this at the same time as some cupcakes, which ended disastrously for the first batch of cupcakes. I reckon the soup was fine though, it certainly tasted as it was meant to!

 photo 73f0c241-104b-423f-89ff-c6f8975916e8_zps8f71671d.jpgNow, this soup is spicy. That obviously depends on the strength of your chilli – so if in doubt, leave it out. Dried chilli flakes are a good alternative as it’s easy to control the spice level. I like spice, so I welcomed the strong kick this gave. I’m not sure my colleagues agreed, as this soup smells strongly of curry. As does the microwave at work having eaten this a few days in a row…oops. But this is so cheap, so filling, and perfect for anyone on a budget. If your purse doesn’t allow fresh aromatics, a few spoons of curry powder works absolutely fine. Trust me, I did this in my first year.

 photo c2002620-4d2b-4b6c-adef-3ce63b56b2da_zpsd69a60fa.jpgIngredients – makes 6 big servings, but it freezes and reheats well (perfect for tight budgets!)

  • 1-2 fresh red chillies
  • 1″ piece of ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 onion
  • 1 teaspoon each of turmeric, ground coriander, and ground cumin
  • 600g carrots – peel, top and tail around 700g of them
  • 150g red lentils (dried)
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tin of coconut milk
  • Fresh coriander, to serve

 photo 971a2598-bd4d-4913-b8fd-79e11ef08150_zps9ca3a51d.jpgHeat a tablespoon of oil over a low heat, in a large pan. Fry the powdered spices until fragrant. Meanwhile, blitz the chillies, ginger, garlic and onion in a chopper, or dice finely. Add to the pan and sweat until soft.

 photo 03f3a9c7-d60f-4f53-adc4-695983ebbe8d_zpsbceebd31.jpg photo aa8089d5-44a8-4087-90b0-34fe9f5680dd_zps91d9a3b8.jpgNow, you want the carrot in small, small pieces. I used the food chopped again, or you could finely dice or grate. Up to you, but I definitely chose the easy option. Add the carrots to the pan, followed by the lentils and stock. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 20 minutes – until everything is soft.

 photo 2bc6545c-72c7-4a44-beed-31abbcb73a69_zps42b62950.jpgPuree/blend until completely smooth. Return to a clean pan and stir through the coconut milk until heated through. Serve scattered with the fresh coriander.

 photo 0cea28c0-6af4-4339-bf6f-f8484a8b5a01_zps7073e9f8.jpgThis goes amazingly well with naan bread, but I served with homemade bread. Making bread has become a real passion in the last few weeks, and it’s agreeing with my tummy a lot more too! For surprisingly little effort, and very few pennies, I’m left with soft, fresh bread that doesn’t make me feel horribly bloated. A win all round!

I’ve posted a few soup recipes recently – do you have any other recipes you recommend? What’s your favourite soup?