Monday, October 27, 2008

4 meals for 4 for under $30

Let me start with saying soup is about the easiest way to provide a healthy meal and stretch your dollar. I love soups. It is really one of my favorite parts about winter. The first is hands down one of my very favorites. The second is a new one that I came up with (because I hated to throw away the fennel top) and it came out good and my son loves it…even better. If you hate fennel you can subsitute celery, but my husband hates fennel but this is still his favorite soup, so you might want to try it.

Kielbasa and Collard Soup
This was adapted from a recipe I found off of Epicurious. It is a recipe from “Gourmet.” The original calls for pancetta and for swiss chard. I wanted a heartier soup so I substituted the pancetta for kielbasa and the swiss chard for collards.

1 lb great northern beans (or 4 cans) soaked over night ($1)
1 lb package Kielbasa (I use turkey, but use whatever you want) ($2.50
1 large onion chopped ($.50)
1 fennel bulb chopped (just use bulb not stalks or top, however you can set them aside for other use) ($2.50)
1 tbs olive oil (see below)
1 tbs minced garlic (see below)
5 c. chicken broth (or 5 chicken bullion cubes and 5 cups water)
3 c. water
1 (3x2 inch) piece of parm rind (many stores sell just the rind, if you can’t find try 1/2c. of a good grated parm) ($2)
3 Turkish bay leaves (see below)
6 large collard leaves, cleaned, and chopped thick part of steams removed. ($.75)

I buy bulk minced garlic (because I use A LOT) and bullion. The cost per use has to be in the cents. That said. Allow $1 for the incidentals in this. This puts the whole pot at $10.25, or about $5 per meal for four. Add a salad (about $3 for two meals worth of side salad)and a store bought loaf of bread (about $2) and you have two meals for four for $15.25.

Soak beans overnight (or at least 8 hours), and drain.

Heat olive oil. Add chopped fennel, garlic and onion and cook over medium heat until soft. Add beans, broth, water, bay leaves, and parm and simmer for 45 minutes (or until beans done). Taste flavorings and adjust now. Add collards and cook another 15 minutes. Served

Junk soup
Fennel tops from other soup chopped($0)
8 c. chicken stock
1 broccoli crown chopped ($1)
2 large carrots chopped (.50)
1/3 head of cauliflower ($1)
1 large chicken breast cut up (1.50)
2 red potatoes or 1 Idaho (.75)
Salt and pepper
1 tbs garlic

Cook fennel, broccoli, and carrots and stock for 30 minutes until everything is tender. Pull off and let cool. Once cool, but in blender (you will have to do this in 3-4 batches) and process (it will still be a bit chunky) . Put contents back in pot and heat up to boiling again. Cut chicken breast in to small pieces. Put in pot. Add cauliflower and potatoes and cook for 15 more minutes. Adjust seasoning.
**Note: If you plan to freeze this (you do have two pots of soup after all) do not add the potatoes until you plan to use it, since potatoes don’t freeze will.

The total for this soup is just under $5.00. Plus this is a extremely health soup. I thought this might also be good with a little sweet curry powder, but left it out for the kids. My son loved it.

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