Sunday, May 31, 2009

Frugal Foods tips and recipe May 31

 Cheap, tasty and healthy Soup utilising left overs.

Soup doesn't have to be a thin, watery grey thing in the bottom of the bowl with all the taste of used dish water.
Grab yourself some dried lentils, peas, pearl barley, etc - you'll find the works in the soup aisle of the supermarket, the dried goods are usually tucked down below eye level where people don't see them. Or much cheaper in your local Asian grocery store.
  • Soak your lentils and whatsits overnight; just dump the required amount into a saucepan and cover with tepid water, bung on a lid and leave it.
  • The following day (about 10 am) drain, then briefly rinse and toss the now-swollen grains back into the pot, cover with water and put on a low flame.
  • Think about what you're going to do with this soup - flying by the seat of your pants with ingredients is fun but only if you're familiar with your prey.
  • Is there a half cut up tomato in the fridge? Some cold left over roast chook? A small bit of cabbage in the bottom of the crisper? The lone bacon rasher? How about that parsnip that's got more wrinkles than Nicole Kidman's Dorian Grey portrait?
  • You get the idea - bits and bobs, cleaned up, peeled, diced and viola!
  • You want this to be a stick-to-the-ribs kind of soup?
  • Then peel and dice a spud or three. As the spud cooks (over a couple of hours) it will absorb the liquid and eventually fall apart to thicken the soup. If you're short of spuds use other vegies.
  • You want a thin soup so the damper you're about to bake can mop up the liquid?
  • Cook the same ingredients but over a shorter period, not adding them until well after the lentils and peas are thoroughly cooked.
  • Chuck in whatever herbs and spices and everything nices that tickles your fancy, heck even a bit of curry powder will give it a hint of heat that's welcome on cold Winter nights.

  • Light your oven.
  • Damper is dead easy and nothing to be scared to attempt.
  • Grab 3 cups of S/R flour and sift into a mixing bowl, dump in about 80 grams of room temperature butter/margarine and cut it through the flour with a knife until it resembles bread crumbs.
  • Make a well in the centre and add 1 1/4 cups of water or milk (your choice).
  • Now at this point you can add diced bacon, grated cheese, herbs, spices, dried fruits, etc, whatever you'd prefer.
  • Mix in bowl with the flat of the knife then turn out onto a floured surface. The less you handle the bread the less air you'll poke out of it and the more it will rise.
  • Gently poke and prod it into a vaguely round shape, bung on a tray lined with baking paper and throw into a HOT oven for about 30 mins or until it sounds hollow when you knock on the top (no, I'm not kidding).
  • Cut and serve hot with lashings of no fat margarine with the soup.


  1. Awesome tips. We're due to for a fridge clean and soup would be excellent on these frosty nights.

  2. Mmmmm, soup... you're making me hungry now!

    One tip - if you're in a (relative) hurry, lentil soup takes about 20 min to cook, from pack-of-lentils to in-the-bowl. Use red lentils, a little coconut milk, ground fennel seeds, a bit of chili... and at the end, sprinkle in some bacon-flavoured-soy-chips, aka bacon bits :-)

  3. "Soup doesn't have to be a thin, watery grey thing in the bottom of the bowl with all the taste of used dish water."

    I totally agree. Get yourself a nice tin of Heinz Golden Vegetable and some fresh, crusty bread plastered with butter. Mmm...lubberly.

  4. Absolutely, Anja, soup is at its best in Winter ;)

    YUM, Nomes, that sounds delicious! :)

    Can opener or use a rabid squirrel's teeth, Brian? :P

  5. If you cook your damper plain, i.e. no additives like bacon etc., the leftover damper is yummy with jam slathered on it.

    Now let me quote bits from an article in today's newspaper. The article is titled Back to Nanna's Day and is about a 1931 cookbook that was popular during the depression era.
    "The ----- family of (suburb) agreed to test two recipes from the 1931 SA cookbook "The Blossoms Cookery Book". They cooked
    1:- "economical soup", made of turnip, swede, carrot and parsnip boiled in water with a tablespoon of milk and
    2:-"mock duck", steak rolled in dripping and breadcrumbs.
    Mother-of-three ------- said she thought the soup tasted "reasonably good", but with a bill of $40, questioned how economical the meal was.........the meat was $13 and the vegetables came to $27".
    End quote.
    I was gobsmacked when I read this. First, the soup sounds a bit tasteless, the mock duck sounds awful, (to me anyway).
    But what got me steamed was the cost. $27 for a few soup veg??? Where does this woman shop? Even organic veg wouldn't cost that much. Maybe she bought enough veg to see her through an entire week, I don't know. But the way it's presented in the article she used $27 worth of the cheapest veg to make one pot of soup to feed a family of 4. 2 adults, two toddlers.
    I can buy a packet of soup veg which has a swede or turnip, an onion, celery sticks, parsnip, couple of carrots, one or two potatoes, for $3.98. Buying the vegetables individually probably works out to roughly the same cost. Add some ready made stock about $3.00 and a clove of garlic, you're still under $10.00, and there's enough soup for two days, especially if you add rice or pasta or beans.
    An article like this certainly won't encourage people to try the older recipes.
    I made a large pot of soup yesterday, there's only two of us here, so it was soup last night, soup tonight and there's a little left over again for tomorrow's lunch. Total cost for 3 days meals, $12.

  6. Thanks, River, you've inspired tonight's meal and tomorrow's Frugal Foods post ;)
    I can't believe how she managed to spend so much on veg!!!

  7. "Can opener or use a rabid squirrel's teeth, Brian?"

    Neither, they have ringpulls nowadays...presumably so that you don't have to exert any energy whatsoever opening the tin.

  8. eggs are good for thickening soup too

    Simply whisk one with a fork and slowly dribble into your soup as you stir. Continue to simmer until desired thickness is reached and serve.

    Only takes a couple of minutes so you only need to do it just before you dish it up.

  9. Soup weather is here now. Every year I bang on about how home made soup is one of the best things about winter and then I never make it. But not this year!

    Someone recently told me that oats are good as a thickener as well - nutritious too.

  10. Soup :: shudder ::

    Leechboy and I share an aversion to all but the thickest stew like soups. Think we both were fed far too much soup in our childhood.