There is something so satisfying about going to the store and spending next to nothing for everything you need for a good hearty meal (or two). For me, the ultimate embodiment of that is this soup recipe. What made me think of sharing this with you? Well, quite the opposite. Last weekend we decided to have a special Saturday night at home and cook a nice dinner for ourselves. On top of the fact that I am less than enticed by the restaurants we have tried since we’ve moved here, a fancy dinner at home usually costs as much as a cheap dinner out, so I usually prefer the at-home route when it’s all about the food (I realize that sometimes it is good to get out of the house for other reasons). We went to the fish store and got a bunch of shellfish and made a wonderful bouillabaisse. I was actually pretty sad that I couldn’t photograph any of it (it was way too dark) because it was absolutely delicious and felt like such a special meal (hopefully I will re-make it in the eventual future and share it here!).
And while there is definite enjoyment in indulging in some special produce for a nice dinner, I find equal enjoyment in spending next to nothing for a just-as-hearty meal. I decided I wanted to start a sort of ‘series’ called ‘cheap eats’ here on my second breakfast (does this interest people out there?), because in many ways, we still feel like we are living like students. My partner is still in school and I am fairly underemployed, so it is satisfying and often wise to come up with meals that cost next to nothing, and this is certainly one of them.
I can’t even begin to try and figure out how often we have had this lentil soup. It is great for so many reasons. First, I pretty much always have all of the ingredients I need on hand. Second, if I have to buy any ingredients it is usually the carrot or onion (since I buy the lentils, thyme, bay leaf, and stock in relative bulk and always try to have them on hand) and I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to go out and buy the ingredients that I am missing to make lunch for the week and spend less than two dollars. Of course, if you are starting from scratch it will cost more than that but I can think of very few meals that we have that are this satisfying, healthy and cheap. (Although if you’re looking for a more heavily spiced and complexly flavoured lentil soup, this one may be for you).
More importantly, we keep making this soup over and over again because it tastes so good! I am always surprised how much flavour can come out of these generally ordinary ingredients. Of course, you can add whatever you want to this soup. I usually include some celery but didn’t have any on hand, you can add a handful of greens, some potato, the possibilities are endless, but just as it is here is great as well. It comes together super fast and is the perfect lunch for the winter season (I would like to pretend it is autumn but there is snow on the ground and we are below zero every day, so I cannot call that autumn in my books).
In a medium pot, heat up olive oil.
Saute onion, carrots and garlic until softened, about 3-4 minutes.
Add rinsed lentils, stock, bay leaves, thyme sprigs.
Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer.
Simmer for 25-30 minutes, until lentils have softened.
Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Cheap Eats: Lentil Soup Recipe was last modified: November 5, 2013 by