Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Cheap Meals: Lentil Soup

I recently tried a brilliant recipe I found on Not Delia. It's really simple, easy to cook, very cheap and pretty nutritious. (It is also vegan if you use either vegan margarine or oil to soften the veg.)

The recipe can be found here and uses some seriously cheap ingredients:

  • 250g split red lentils - £2 for 2kg, so can be as cheap as 25p. 60p buys a 250g pack.
  • One onion - 19p
  • One carrot - 9p
  • 1.5 litres of vegetable stock – Can be free if you use water used to boil veg, or if you use stock cubes like I did then 10p for a pack of 10 stock cubes, of which you will need 3, so 3p.
  • Margarine/oil – probably freely available in your kitchen.

Total cost = 56p (or up to 98p to buy the full packages of lentils and stock cubes), which is 14p per portion.

(Prices from Tesco's website, so could be even cheaper elsewhere!)

The recipe analyser on Calorie Count shows that this soup is pretty good for you (grade A). It's low in calories, high in vitamin A and super-dee-duper high in fibre. 

The biggest problem with it is the sodium content, which pretty much all comes from the stock cubes. If you have homemade stock yours should be even better!

I love the simplicity of the recipe. You basically just soften the chopped vegetables in the oil/margarine and then boil everything in stock for half an hour. I didn't even need to blend it; it was a nice thick soup but not too chunky!

One tip I will add is to slice the carrots as thinly as you can. This will let them break down in the soup more easily. I could nearly see the chopping board through mine!

There are only two of us, but I made the full four-person's worth. You can either freeze or refrigerate the leftovers for a homemade ready meal another day. The Not Delia website has a few different ways to jazz this soup up with other ingredients too. 

For 14p a portion I would definitely make this soup again. It was one of the nicest soups I've had!

Anyone got a suggestion for more ways to jazz this soup up? I think meat-eaters might want to try adding some bacon pieces to it; apparently lentils and bacon is a brilliant combination. Let me know if you try the soup!


heleng said...

I think it would be nice with either smoked paprika or a little ground cumin added. That would cost a bit to initially buy the spices but you'd only need a teaspoon so each packet could be used many times.

kernowyon said...

Where did you get your cheapo stock cubes, Bryallen?
The most well known UK stock cube makers are a lot more than that!

I like lentil soup - with lots of pepper in there.
As a non-vegan/non-veggie, I would agree with bacon or other ham type additions.

Even if using the UK stock cube supplier I mentioned, lentil soup is cheap and delish!

Never tried cumin in lentil soup (as suggested by heleng), but paprika or even some chilli powder wil add a bit of zing!

As you say, dropping the stock cubes and using either water or the water you cooked veg in will drop the salt levels. Stock cubes and gravy cubes and granules add massive loads of salt.

kernowyon said...

Forgot to say - welcome back to the internets!

Good to see you posting again!

Anonymous said...

my granny showed me how she boils a shoulder of pork and then uses that water as stock, and then adding the washed lentils plus a grated parsnip and a grated carrot and some of the cooked chopped ham - so lovely!

I also love this turkish lentil soup variation with paprika and potato....

skipandscatter said...

Hey, looks yummy! I can totally see some parsley leaves in there. :)

saving for travel said...

Yes, that looks delicious and what a brilliant price!

Sft x

Frugal Queen said...

Pack of stock cubes are 10p in tescopoly

Attila said...

I'd add a stick of celery to the veg; adds more flavour. Or use leeks instead of onion, but would cost more unless home grown.

Pamela said...

If you use fresh veg at all, save the scraps and peelings in a bag in the freezer. When you get a couple of cupfuls, combine with water in a stockpot, add whatever herbs you like (I'm a fan of bay leaves in stock) and allow to simmer for a few hours. Or better yet, if you have a slow cooker, cook it in there. Allow to cool, remove the vegetables and herbs, put into containers, and freeze for future use. You could use this homemade stock for the stock in this soup.

Pamela said...

Also--I LOVE red lentils! There's a nice recipe for Lebanese red lentil soup--it uses chicken stock (use veg if you don't eat meat), garlic, cumin, onion, and some red pepper. Once it's simmered and blended, add 1/4 cup of lemon juice and garnish with chopped cilantro. YUM.

cumbrian said...

Best wat to make lentil soup is the stock which you boiled the ham shank in.
I boil a ham shank in the slow cooker, uses minimum electricity, get at least 2 meals from the shank. Then just add lentils, with onions, carrot, potato, turnip, swede, celeriac, parsnip all chopped into small bits; in fact any combination of root veg you have lurking and leave it in the slow cooker for a further few hours.
It provides a lot of soup, at least 3 good meals for 2 people with a bit of bread / toast.

Athyn said...

I followed this the other day and it was a disaster. I make soups a lot but this one.. the lentils didnt go soft and the 1.5 litres was wayy too little stock. So then I added more and it just became tasteless.so had to add spices and herbs. How odd.

Bryallen said...

Sorry to hear it didn't work for you Athyn. I like stirring soups because it makes me feel like a chef, so maybe that's why they broke down faster in mine!

All the adaptations in the comments look awesome! I think next time I will add some spices to it and see what happens! Also the celery sounds delicious!