Soup, a Great Budget Meal

I can’t think of a better comfort food than a bowl of homemade soup. It also makes a great bargain meal for many reasons-

Low Cost Ingredients

Most items you use to make soup aren’t that expensive…vegetables and cheaper cuts of meat that usually tenderize during this slow cooking process.

A Hearty Meal in a Bowl

Thicker soups like split pea or chili contain lots of fiber that fill you up quickly. Soups containing dairy products add a satisfying richness that tricks us into thinking we’ve eaten an elaborate meal.

Meal In Itself

Serve a soup containing a protein and some vegetables, add some great crusty bread, and you’ve got yourself one of the least expensive meals you can put together.

It’s Great for Later Too

Soup is also a great item to make in large batches and freeze. Never worry about leftover soup. In fact, ask any top chef and he or she will tell you all soups should be eaten the day after they’re made. I’ve been to many restaurants where the menu proudly states all their soups are made the day before. When I make homemade soup sometimes I can’t wait that long but when you do, day old soup has a much more intense flavor.

Make Your Own Stock

And if you’re thinking about making a stock for the soup, try saving up all your veggie peelings, and boiling them together. Some people also sauté the scraps and add the water after. It does give you a more flavorful stock, but if you’re watching your fat intake, the boiling method works just as well. You can either use the stock straight away or freeze it. You can also make soup from leftover meat bones and don’t forget to add ham bones to soups like navy bean and split pea.

Soup Making Tips

Always cook the vegetables in the right order, sauté the onions first, then the root vegetables, then the ones that tend to cook quickly like zucchini.

To lower the fat content-If you find you have to add more oil to sauté the veggies, try adding some water or even stock. To get a creamy soup without adding cream, take out some of the soup, put it in a blender and then add it back to the pot. If a recipe calls for cream or half and half, I use about only 25% of the amount the recipe calls for and then I top it up with low fat milk.

And here are three soups to try…

Cheese and Potato Soup

(Serves 6)

  • 2 oz butter or margarine
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onions,
  • 1 pound of potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
  • Two tablespoons chopped fresh chives or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 2 oz. shredded cheese

1. Melt butter, add onions, potatoes and cook slowly for about five minutes.

2. Add bay leaf, stock cubes, water and cover and cook for 30 minutes.

3. Blend the entire mixture, return to the heat and gently reheat.

4. Serve with a sprinkling of chives and shredded cheese.

Fire Roasted Tomato with Avocado Cream

(Serves 6)

This soup relies on fire-roasted tomatoes and smoky chipotle seasoning to maximize its flavor without adding too much fat. It also gets a creamy texture from pureeing the finished product. And uses the higher in fat ingredients like avocado and sour cream as a garnish rather than a main ingredient.

  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash salt free Southwest chipotle seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons of Chipotle hot sauce.
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 14.5 oz cans of fire roasted chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup corn, frozen, fresh, or canned, but drain or defrost them before you add them to the soup
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream, regular or low fat
  • Dash of lime juice

1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.

2. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Add the chipotle seasoning and hot sauce and make sure all the onions are well coated. Cook for one minute.

3.Slowly add the vegetable stock, bring to a boil, and simmer until onions are completely cooked, about five minutes.

4. Add both cans of fire roasted chopped tomatoes and heat through. Taking about 2 cups of the soup at a time, puree everything in a blender. When the whole mixture is pureed return to the pan and heat through.

5. Stir in the corn. Adjust taste and if you like foods really hot you can add more hot sauce.

 For the avocado cream, peel and mash the avocado add a dash of lime juice to stop the avocado from discoloring and then add the sour cream and blend together.

Ladle the soup into a bowl and place about a tablespoon of the avocado cream in the center. The longer this soup sits the better, it freezes perfectly, and a great accompaniment is blue corn tortilla chips.

Lentil Soup

(Serves 4)

  • 4 oz red lentils
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 14 oz. can chopped tomatoes
  1. Place lentils, onions and carrots in a saucepan, top with water, tomatoes and spices.
  2. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  3.  Place everything in a blender and blend. Return mixture to the pan and add about another cup of water and simmer 10 minutes.


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