Friday, December 11, 2009

Five Dollar Friday: Lentil Soup

Here is my first "Five Dollar Friday"

We came across this recipe when we were studying about the monks who lived in Medieval Europe. Making this soup was a suggested activity and has now become a family favorite. It was my first time to ever cook or even eat lentils. I hope someone else enjoys it!

Lentil Soup
(adapted from Story of the World, Activity Book 2: The Middle Ages)

1 large onion chopped
3 carrots diced
3 stalks celery chopped
2-4 garlic cloves minced (approx. 2 tsp of garlic but adjust to your taste)
1 bay leaf
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
6 cups of water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 cup dried lentils (My store only carries one type, brown with a greenish tint, so that's what I use)
1 cup fresh spinach finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add carrots and celery and cook until tender. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, oregano and basil. Cook for 1-2 minutes being sure not to burn garlic.
2. Add water and tomatoes then stir in lentils. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour to an hour and a half until lentils are tender. When ready to serve stir in spinach and add seasonings to taste.

Serve with a loaf of homemade whole wheat bread if you wish!

* This soup is wonderful as is but if you have a little extra in your grocery budget you can jazz it up in several different ways. You can add shredded Parmesan cheese on top. Or, if mild Italian Sausage links (pork or turkey are both great) are on sale they can be grilled, cut up and added in the last 30 minutes of cooking. If you want to keep it vegetarian the original recipe said to serve it with wedges of cheese and sharp cheddar is wonderful with the flavor of the soup. Any of these will raise your overall price but if you catch some good sales, they are yummy additions.

Cost breakdown: $4.65

$ .50 lentils - 1/2 of a 1 lb bag bought for $1.
$ .50 onion - sweet yellow onion on sale for $.77 per lb
$ .66 carrots - 3 carrots out from a 2lb bag I bought for $2.00
$ .33 celery - 3 ribs out of a $1 bundle
$ .10 garlic - a few cloves from a head that cost $.33
$ 1.06 28 oz can tomatoes - I actually bought 2-14.5 oz cans because it was cheaper that way!
$1.50 spinach - 1/2 of a 10 oz bag that cost $3 spinach