Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Dinner: Cheap, Healthy, Exotic

from Amy of ProgressivePioneer.com

One of our very favorite soups is an Indian lentil soup. The curry and other spices makes it kind of exotic and the short, simple ingredient list makes it inexpensive and easy to throw together out of things you can stock in your pantry.

1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 coriander seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 TBSP olive oil
1 chopped onion
2 chopped garlic cloves
5 cups stock (we use Better than Bouillion chicken)
10oz red lentils
1 can chopped tomatoes

Crush up the seeds in a mortar and pestle, heat them in a dry frying pan for a minute (honestly, you can skip this step too; it just intensifies the flavors). Then saute the onions and garlic in the oil and add in the spice mixture. Put in the broth and lentils and cook until the lentils are tender (about 20min). Add the tomatoes and let it cook another five minutes. Now *carefully* whiz it all up in a blender until almost smooth (a little texture is nice) and pour it back in the pot. You may need to do this in a couple batches.
It's easy to double or triple this recipe and store a few meals worth in the freezer. It's perfect thawed and heated and tastes just as delicious as the day you made it.
If you don't have the spices in your cupboard already, that will be your big investment. Otherwise things like canned tomatoes, onions and lentils are cheap and easy to keep on hand. For garnish you can fry up some green onion slices and mix fresh parsley into some plain yogurt. I love the yogurt mixture on top!
We like to serve something fresh and colorful with the soup. This was a salad composed entirely from our garden, so definitely cheap! But a nice side of curried peas and potatoes, an interesting fruit salad or even a simple green salad with a bright flavored dressing would be great.
Another delicious and inexpensive accompaniment is homemade, whole wheat naan. Peter Reinhart has a wonderful recipe that comes out fluffy and chewy. But some nice whole wheat toast to dip in the soup would also be tasty and satisfying.
Bon appetit!