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.: 7.27.2009 

Zabet's Cheap Eats #4

Muligalentil Soup
I am a big fan of a particular recipe for Muligatawny Soup from The Daily Soup cookbook (as are many of my friends, especially if I'm making it). However, it doesn't exactly qualify as healthy since it's chock full of potatoes and cream. This red lentil version is every bit as tasty and will stick to your ribs instead of your ass.

1 Tbsp canola oil
2 onions, chopped ($0.88)
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 clove organic, local garlic, minced ($0.08)
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp garam masala*
2 tsp ground coriander seeds
2 tsp salt
1 tsp tumeric**
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes ($1.99)
2 cups organic veggie broth (1/2 a box; $1.75)
2 1/2 cups water
12 oz dry red lentils*** ($2.84)
5-7 saffron threads**** (optional)

Heat oil in stockpot; add onions, garlic, and ginger and sauté until golden brown (about 4 minutes).

Add sugar, garam masala, coriander, salt, tumeric, and cayenne; stir to coat vegetables. Sauté another 2-3 minutes to cook the spices. (This is important!)

Add tomatoes, including juice. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Add broth, water, red lentils, and saffron. Cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Blend with immersion blender if desired.

Serve with a dollop of plain greek yoghurt garnish (if you have some).

Makes 6 - 8 servings.
Total cost for the whole shebang: $7.54
Total cost per huge serving: $1.26 - $0.94
*Garam masala is a mix of spices that are used together so often in Indian cooking that you can buy them premixed. (Sort of like American chili powder, which is salt and achiote and other things premixed.) It's not expensive and can be found in ethnic shops.

**Tumeric is a bright orange ground spice that will stain clothing and white counter tops. It's very cheap and easy to find in ethnic shops. It has a very dry (like dry wine), bitter taste to it, which is why it's important to cook those spices before going on with the dish. This mellows it out considerably.

***Always, always, always pick dry lentils over for sticks and rocks and rinse them until the water runs darn near clean. I say "darn near" because it would be an abomidable waste of water to rinse them until the water actually is clear. I put them in a mesh strainer and submerge the strainer in cold water, dumping out the rinse water each time. After about 6 or 8 turns like that, the lentils are good to go.

****Saffron, of course, is the dried stigma of the saffron crocus and is the world's most expensive spice because each crocus flower only produces two. Ironic I should be using it in a Cheap Eats, no? A friend and I split the cost of a half-ounce some years back, and I figure if I have it on hand, I'm damn well gonna use it. You can skip it, obviously, without really hurting anything.


thus proclaimeth the Zabet  10:26 PM   6 comment(s)


You can also get saffron on the cheap at ethnic stores. I about flipped my lid when I saw decent-sized packages of saffron for like $2.99.

By Blogger Ann, at 7:57 AM  

I'd be highly suspect of the quality of such saffron, myself.

By Blogger Zabet, at 9:12 AM  


(I use the saffron from the ethnic stores, too. It's yet to kill me, and it tastes saffron-y.)

By OpenID colleenanne, at 9:31 PM  

*TRY* this version, Colleen, you'll love it, I promise!

By Blogger Zabet, at 1:25 PM  

I do not eat lentils. I HATE the texture. I feel that way about everything but green beans and things made from lentil flour (and mashed chickpeas, a la falafel.) I've tried lentils (accidentally) and I have not Been Happy.

By OpenID colleenanne, at 5:32 PM  

Although I will admit that your lentil version is probably much more authentic.

By OpenID colleenanne, at 5:33 PM  

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