Spent too much over the holidays? Budget shot from too many nights out, plane/train/bus tickets, and gifts for your family and friends? Yeah, me too. All will be well when I get paid tomorrow, but in the meantime, I need to make the most of what I’ve got in the pantry. (Improv Soup, anyone?)
Upon my return to the city over the weekend, I whipped up a red lentil and sweet potato soup with some curry and other spiced. As I recall, there’s not much in it besides onion, carrots, celery, 2 big sweet potatoes, and half a pound of red lentils. It’s tasty, but I can make it last longer by doing a few key things:
Adding brown rice (I get it on the cheap at Trader Joe’s for $1.09/lb)
Adding more vegetables (frozen spinach and others are often less than $2/lb)
Adding a can of tomatoes (watch for sales and buy a whole lot!)
I was planning on doing all of these things until I discovered that I am out of canned tomatoes. Fortunately I had a couple cans of pumpkin, which is a natural addition to sweet potatoes and spices. I’ve also added cooked brown rice, some frozen green beans, and a 10oz package of frozen spinach. For more seasoning, I threw in some more spices (fennel, mustard, cumin), minced fresh ginger, and a just starting to shrivel jalapeno. Some salt too.
Throw it all in a big pot (except for the rice, which you should save for the end so it doesn’t suck up all the broth) and simmer until it tastes good, adjusting the seasonings as it cooks. The only thing I’d change about my soup is that it could use another onion. What’s really important though, is that I turned three servings of soup into ten. I’ll eat like a queen until my paycheck clears!
Almost any dish can be stretched into soup this way. I have a few servings of Wheat Berry Salad that could probably stand the same treatment if necessary. Just add water, onion/carrot/celery, and some beans or canned tomatoes, simmer, and voila! Soup. Even if you’re not broke, it’s a great way to use up leftovers that you’ve grown weary of.