By Chef Joey
Chef Joey says: M ASK UP AND WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN!
Dare I say winter is here, folks! But that can be a good thing. With the colder weather the yearning for hearty food goes up, and believe it or not you can cook up some delicious fare for cheap!
Using beans …
photos: Chef Joey and Rose T.
… as your protein source not only reduces the cost of your meal, it actually is better for you. We so often look to short cuts – a quick “dollar” meal, frozen microwave meals, or all out dining. Investing in a $15 crock pot makes cooking a breeze: you come home to a prepared meal!
On the flip side 45 minutes to an hour will also yield a delicious soup or stew made on your stove top.
You can make more than 1 gallon of homemade tomato or cream of tomato soup for less than $5. It’s easy fast and delicious!
All you need:
… water and a soup base – I prefer “Knorr’s” or “Better than Bullion” veggie base for the flavor. The wet bullion base will cost you upfront – but the yield is amazing.
So, Joey, how do I make that soup?
Well, it is easy!
Get a big pot, slice up 2 large onions and add to the pot with 1 – 2 inches of water and let those puppies heat up – the water softens the onions and does not allow them to burn.
Now peel and rough chop 4 carrots …
… and 4 or 5 stalks of celery and 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
Put them in a blender with 1 cup or 2 of water, depending on the volume
Blend until smooth.
Add this to your onion mix then open a large
6 pound can of crushed tomatoes (called #10 cans – your food club stores sell them for under $4) and stir
It will be kind of thick so add ½ can or less of water and stir well.
Bring it to a near boil and let it simmer
a good 40 minutes.
Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of your bouillon at this point and taste for flavor
Now would be the time you salt and pepper.
Add heavy cream for cream of tomato soup, or enjoy it vegan fast and easy.
The carrots add a sweet tinge and give another veggie element to the soup!
Notice how I had you finely chop the onions and cook in water. You can add a little olive oil if you like, too. This helps act as a baby sitter so your
onions don’t burn.
Blending celery and garlic is a great way to introduce it to your broth without having to cut it up small small.
This is the basis for just about everything. The carrots and celery need to be pureed for the tomato soup. Cubed or chopped is fine for other soups. Garlic, however, I feel works best in this application.
To make lentil soup start with your onions
then puree garlic
when the onions are soft add about
2 quarts of water , 8 cups , and one bag of lentils that have been rinsed off.
To this add 3 peeled (or unpeeled) potato
… finely diced and 4 peeled and
diced carrots and 4 or 5 stalks of celery.
A tablespoon or 2 of cumin or turmeric, it does wonders!
For this soup the lentils need a solid 45 minutes to cook.
At the end taste for flavor – if you feel ths need for bouillon, go ahead.
If not salt and pepper – you can add fresh lemon juice and a whole bunch of fresh chopped spinach, too (blender trick works
Substitute the bag of lentils with barley for another great soup and instead of cumin – try
turmeric or curry powder!
One cup of barley goes a long way, and it keeps “growing”! So don’t use more than a cup per 2 quarts.
Ok. We get it but I don’t like lentils. Well, that’s great but I say try them as an adult. But you still don’t like them…Ok then start your base of onions. This time triple your garlic (I LOVE bags of whole peeled garlic and NEVER use the chopped up stuff – you will ruin your recipe). Blend it together and add Cannelli beans or white navy beans juice and everything into your onion base.
Ideally if you buy a bag of dried beans and soak overnight or quick boil prepare is the cheapest route – 1 pound bags range from $.89 to $1.50 versus the same price depending on the brand for cans. Add your water and base at this point for this soup.
Add fresh washed and chopped escarole to this, and there you have it! Escarole and bean soup.
Just add diced carrots – and boom white bean soup or get a package of grape tomatoes, rough blend in the blender with water – add to ths beans and you have a variation.
BLACK BEAN SOUP
Black bean soup is just as fun! A secret I taught myself when I didn’t have any cilantro was to add a jar of salsa to my black beans.
So basically start your base:
onions and garlic
then add 2 cans of black beans
8 cups water
Let that heat up – throw in a bag of frozen corn and a cup or 2 of diced carrots
a tablespoon of cumin – these old world spices really work!
After about a half hour, add the salsa – at least a cup.
Stir until hot.
There you have it!
All of these nutritious meals costs less than $5.
You can add meat to the barley soup if you have leftovers – it is ideal chop it up into little cubes. One half of a whole chicken breast goes a long way and can feed many.
CHICKEN POT PIE
Chicken pot pie is chicken stew with a crust. It is easy – once again the base of the
a little oil on this one
toss in 4 or 5 chopped celery stalks
then add your diced chicken and sauté for a few minutes.
2 cups carrots
2 cups peas
You can use frozen veggies – or canned – in a pinch
2 cups diced potatoes
Then cover with mixture just enough – about an inch over the mixture.
When veggies are done add some chicken base or veggie base. I am gluten free so I thicken with corn starch – 4 or 5 tablespoons mixed with COLD water (1/4 cup works fine)
Add to the broth
And there you have it! 20 minute chicken stew.
For pot pie: Pour it in a pan – make a quick crust …
(1 stick cold butter 2
cups flour – salt and a teaspoon of baking powder.) Throw it in your food processor – or if you don’t have one mix the dry together.
Soften the butter – both ways require a little bit of cold water until it becomes pastry-like. Roll it out on a floured surface. No roller? Use a bottle or a can (clean it first) and bake
until flakey and golden.
When you go shopping and you see carrots potatoes, turnips etc. on sale buy them – they can last a while in dry storage. A 10 pound bag of carrots will sell for $3.99 vs 1 pound for $1.99. Always shop for the lowest price per pound. Speaking of carrots… peel 3 pounds of carrots, run them through the food
processor or blender with water to purée them. (if you don’t have one use the side of your box grater – or dice very fine.
Start your soup with the onion base
then add your carrots
Cover with water
Add a tablespoon of fresh chopped ginger
Let it cook for a good 30 minutes on medium – a tablespoon of curry powder will add another dimension.
Salt pepper and add base, if needed.
You can find many different spices in the ethnic sections of your supermarket – fennel, curry, turmeric etc. are way cheaper in the Indian section versus the spice section of the market. Look for the big Goya displays most yearly supplies are under $5.
Use chick peas with your onion and garlic blend, add water…when it boils add a cup of pasta! Pasta Cici – and if you soak your own beans – you’re talking $3 soup for 10 or more – that’s $.30 cents a serving! And no additives. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
Remember the book stone soup? I don’t like to admit it much either because it shows our age, but it is true – you can make
soups and stews with anything – adding mashed potato will thicken the case nicely.
Save your leftover veggies no matter how small the portion and after a couple days well stored – “add them to the pot”!
If onions bother you – I feel bad for you! – use leeks instead and make sure you wash them well as they can collect dirt between the layers. They enhance soups wonderfully. Toss some cubed butternut squash in with your lentils or barley soups or even chicken stew – at $.79 a pound it’s inexpensive and just one will add 3 or more servings!
Garlic: a cook’s best friend!