Saturday, May 16, 2009

What Soup?

Yesterday I spent £46.28 on the weekly shopping bill. Brian and I will be going out for dinner tonight so there will be a few less meals to think about. But first, last week....

I have been cutting down on what I eat the last few weeks as I'd like to lose a bit of weight; I've lost four pounds so far. When 'dieting' before, I found that the cost of fresh, healthy and low fat food could sometimes be high but in fact, with a bit of organisation, dieting or in my case, changing some of my eating habits can be cost effective: lose pounds and save pounds!

The best discovery I've made so far to eating healthy but feeling full and being able to eat when you want without spending a lot of money is...wait for it....SOUP! Every day this past week I've made soup which I've had for my lunch with bread and occasionally for dinner. A large pot of soup costs approx. £1.00. Seriously. Here is an average ingredient and cost list for a pot of soup:
Knorr Chicken stock cube approx cost. 16 pence (Using home-made stock £0.00 pence)
Lentils approx cost. 18 pence for 100g (£3.78 x 2 kg)
Carrots x 2 approx cost. 20 pence
Onion, large approx cost. 16 pence
Turnip,small, half approx cost. 30 pence
Leftover chicken/ham approx cost. 0 pence

Some soups are more expensive than others of course but I've used a lot of leftover ingredients which have already been costed for the week so a lot of items haven't cost much at all. This week I had the following soups:
Chicken & Rice
Watercress & Spinach
Tomato and Basil

Chicken & Rice
Home-made stock was used for this but a Knorr chicken stock cube is great. Chicken carcass was boiled with a bay leave, half a carrot, half onion and a few black peppercorns and leftover herbs. This was then simmered for a few hours, drained and left to get cold. Any 'scum' or fat that had risen to the top was scraped off and then I re-simmered it to concentrate the flavour.

I threw a carrot and quarter of leftover turnip into the blender. I chopped an onion and all of this was added to stock. Boil and then simmer. Any leftover veg can be used as the base for this soup (except green veg!). If you like to blend your soup then make sure you do this before adding the rice and chicken; I've made this mistake and it isn't good. I then added a cup (approx. 100g) of basmati rice, washed. I cooked the soup for approx. 15 minutes on a simmer and then added the chopped up leftover chicken. After a few minutes, the soup was ready. Brian, wee'est 'un and I loved it; the other two are not huge soup fans.

Watercress & Spinach
I do have a nice recipe for this but on this occasion, I added leftover leaves which I'd used for salad to the leftover pot of chicken and rice soup with an added cup of chicken stock (Knorr this time). It was delicious and very healthy not to mention ready in 2 minutes. For adults only!

Knorr Chicken stock cube, lentils washed and added to stock, brought to the boil and simmered whilst preparing rest of vegetables. Two carrots and half turnip were washed and chopped small and added to pot alongside a chopped onion. Once it was almost ready, leftover ham was added to the pot. Again, Brian, wee 'un and I loved it.

Tomato & Basil
There are many recipes for tomato soup; this one is a very quick version. A chicken or vegetable stock cube is dissolved in a small cup of hot water and added to approx. 350g passata (sieved tomatoes, Asda sells jars at approx. 90p for 700g and smaller cartons) and bring to the boil, immediately turning down to a simmer. An onion is blended so that it is almost mushy but finely chopping would do and added to the passata. You could add a chopped garlic clove at this point too. The tomato soup is simmered for five minutes and then I add a teaspoon of sugar and a good pinch of salt (sea salt somehow works better) and a very good grinding of black pepper. I also add a fine grating nutmeg but don't buy it just for this. It is important to taste this soup and make sure it is to your liking...add more salt if you feel it is too bitter and more pepper for spice. At the end I add a handful of chopped basil leaves and give it a quick blend with the hand blender. I then serve with a few chooped leaves sprinkled on top. There is virtually no calories in this and if you add a chopped up chili then you have spicy tomato soup.

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