Sunday, October 23, 2011

Delectable Lentil Soup & a Review of "Eat Vegan on $4 a Day" for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

Yesterday was a long day. I had five 45-minute workshops about eating organic on a budget to deliver for a conference for military spouses. All in all it went really well, except for some issues with the projector for my presentation and the groups seemed engaged with lots of questions and comments--a speaker's dream. ;-) It felt really good to be able to give back in a small way to the families of those who fight for us. Still, at the end of the day I was exhausted, drained both physically and mentally. It was nice to come home to a great smelling slow cooker full of this Delectable Lentil Soup from "Eat Vegan on $4 a Day: A Game Plan for the Budget Conscious Cook" by Ellen Jaffe Jones. A little chopping and dumping things into the crock pot in the morning and a bowl of warm, healthy comfort was ready to be served up.

Today, when we all seem to be struggling to put good food on the table without emptying out our wallets, Eat Vegan on $4 a Day is a good resource. Author Jaffe Jones has a background in journalism and financial consulting, found her own way to a healthy lifestyle and now shares that with others by being a personal trainer and running coach as well as teaching healthy cooking classes. She has packed this softcover 148 page book with tips for budget conscious vegan cooking and plenty of recipes for vegan dishes made with simple, relatively inexpensive ingredients. I have to confess that I did not go price out the recipes to see if I truly could make them on $4 a day here in Hawaii (My guess is that I would probably need to add at least another 20% based on our higher prices), but owning a bevy of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks with sometimes difficult to find ingredients, I appreciate the fact that the majority of the recipe ingredients used in this book can be readily found in the grocery store and often on sale, making them much more budget friendly.

The book includes an introduction explaining why Jaffe Jones wrote the book (she got tired of hearing how food stamp allotments made it so people could only afford convenience items like like macaroni and cheese and Twinkies and knew she could feed them healthy fare for less), Where are the Broccoli Ads?--about how consumerism effects our eating choices, Financial Planning for Food Shopping, and vegan cooking basics in Plant Based Nutrition and Cooking 101. There are recipe chapters divided by breakfasts, soups, salads, salad dressings, entrees, spreads and sides, desserts and snacks.

Recipes I tagged to make are; Kid-Friendly Cocoa Puffs, Sweet Potato Muffins, Cuban Black Bean Soup, Five-Ingredient Salad for Pennies, Tabouli, Easy Miso Dressing, Quinoa Loaf, Brilliant Tofu Burgers, Taste of Thai Saute, Load 'Em Up Burritos, Veggie Sushi, Sweet Potato Skins, Wheat Berry Pilaf, Apple Crisp, Carrot Cake to Live For, Coconut "Ice Cream" and Chocolate-Cherries Jubilee Smoothie; although plenty of others caught me eye. Lentil soup were on my mind though and so I chose to try it first.

Ellen Jaffe Jones says, "Lentils are the fastest-cooking legumes. They are tasty and meaty all on their own, but in this recipe they are standout."

Delectable Lentil Soup
"Eat Vegan on $4 a Day"
(Makes 8 Servings / $.50 per serving)

7 cups water
1/2 lb Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
1 cup green or brown lentils 1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 bay leaves
2 Tbsp vegetable broth powder
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp crushed dried rosemary
1 can (14.5 oz) unsalted crushed tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted), undrained
ground pepper
2 tsp red wine vinegar

Put the water, potatoes, lentils, carrots, celery, bay leaves, vegetable broth powder, garlic, basil, oregano, and rosemary in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Decrease the heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring frequently, for 35-45 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Add additional water if the soup is too thick. Stir in the tomatoes and pepper to taste Cook, uncovered, for at least 15 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the soup from sticking to the bottom of the pot and adding more water if the soup is too thick. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the vinegar and salt to taste. Serve hot.

Tip: This recipe can easily be made in the slow cooker--it will take 6 to 7 hours to cook on the low setting. Your kitchen will be filled with fragrant smells when you return hours later.

A good, simple bowl of lentil soup. Nothing fancy but lots of flavor in the bowl. I chose to use my slow cooker on the soup so I chopped my vegetables a little larger so them would retain some of their texture after 7 hours in the cooker and they were just right for me. The spices, garlic and veggie stock add a lot but the touch of vinegar at the end is what brightens and enlivens the soup. Except for the potatoes, I had everything on hand to make the soup so it was economical. You don't have to point out to your family that this is a vegan soup--it is hearty and savory enough to satisfy your meat eaters, but if you are a cheese fan, a little fresh Parmesan would be lovely too. I would make this again.

Eat Vegan on $4 a Day would be good for vegetarians and vegans of course, those looking to reduce meat and processed food, people looking to learn some basic vegan recipes that don't require searching for unusual ingredients, and anyone looking to save some money and still eat well.

Disclosure Statement: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher and PTA Reader Rewards but I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions and cooking experiences are entirely my own.

We have a group of great recipes and cooks in the Souper Sundays kitchen this week, lets go take a look.

Heather of girlichef has her adaptation of Robin Miller's Southwest Chicken Soup to share and says, "This basic soup has great bones. I decided to add some corn, because I love those sweet little kernels bursting between my teeth.I also added garlic and some chicken broth (and used half the amount of tomatoes called for). You could also add some cooked beans with great success. With a few splashes of Tabasco and served alongside a grilled cheddar sandwich, this made a delicious...and quick...meal."

Since the weather where she lives is warm during the day but cool in the mornings and evenings, my friend Kat from Our Adventures in Japan has been enjoying some soupy morning meals like this Pumpkin Sweet Potato & Spinach Soup. She says, "Because it has been nippy in the mornings, we've started having soup for breakfast, with a crusty baguette or in this case, a slice of sweet potato sesame seed bread, it is a nice way to start the day. The other night I made this soup from leftover pumpkin, sweet potato and spinach. This was delicious, thick and a little sweet from the pumpkin and sweet potato."

Joanne from Eats Well With Others made an exotic Green Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk and Warm Spices and says, "It may be the worst shade of green known to man and ugly as hell. But you'll forget all that the second you put it into your mouth (I'm really struggling to resist a good hearty "that's what she said" right now. For the record.).With the infusion of coconut milk and all of my favorite warming spices (cardamom! cinnamon! cloves!) it is a soup to be reckoned with. And to top it all off, it's so healthy that I'm pretty sure it'll infuse you with any stamina that you were lacking."

Pam from Sidewalk Shoes has two entries this week, this hearty Barley, Beef and Mushroom Soup and a sandwich below. About the soup she says, "Please do not let this horrible photo dissuade you from making this soup. It was not the most photogenic soup, I’ve ever made. And yes, I am blaming the soup and not the photographer, okay. ... This was so good! The combination of dried mushrooms and fresh added layers of flavor and made the broth so rice and creamy. I used ground beef instead of chuck. Since I used the slow cooker, I browned my beef, put it in the slow cooker, sautéed the leeks, carrots and mushrooms and added them to the cooker with everything else and let it cook all day. Total comfort food!"

Janet from The Taste Space has been busy making salads all week and has three to share, starting with this Tarragon Green Bean and White Bean Salad. She says, "I hesitated about bringing another bean salad to the party, especially with tarragon, but once I tasted it I knew it would be alright. Green beans aren’t so scary, are they? This salad was simple. Lightly steamed green beans were paired with Great Northern white beans in a light tarragon vinaigrette. Like most of Sarah’s recipes, I decreased the oil, and in the hubbub of the party, I forgot to add the toasted hazelnuts. No worries, though, because the salad was gobbled up."

Janet's second salad is a White Bean and Barley Salad with Tomato-Pomegranate-Tarragon Sauce about which she says, "The super quick sauce was courtesy of The Breakaway Cook. Deep, rich flavours from pureed sun-dried tomatoes, pomegranate molasses and fresh tarragon. I substitute a dried apricot and agave for the apricot jam and decreased the oil without any problems. The pomegranate molasses added a subtle taste but really added that extra dimension and it worked wonderfully with the tarragon. I was so happy to love the sauce, because it made a ton!"

Finally Janet made this colorful Roasted Golden Beet and Lentil Salad with Mint and Cilantro and says, "Beets can be controversial. Love them or hate them. Personally, I like beets and really enjoy them after they’ve been roasted. Golden beets have a more mild, sweeter flavour, so I jumped with glee when I found them on sale. I figured the only place I could safely bring a beet salad would be to a Polish crowd. Adapted from Whole Living, this salad is quite simple. Lentils and beets. Ginger, mint, coriander and cilantro. OK, the ingredient list sounds long but it all worked seamlessly together. Nothing was overpowering. Everything worked well."

Pam from Sidewalk Shoes second entry this week is Giada's Tuna and Artichoke Panini. She says, "Oh my. Such goodness. If you are looking for a quick and easy sandwich (perfect for football watching), look no further. I’m not going to bother retyping the recipe, because I did not change a thing (other than to add only half the amount of artichokes called for, simply because I apparently can’t read a recipe correctly before going grocery shopping). So, follow the link above to the Food Network site, or look it up in your cookbook, and if you don’t have Giada’s Everyday Italian Cookbook, I highly recommend it."

Thanks to everyone who joined in with their delicious dishes. If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. great round-up! thanks for including me :)

  2. sounds like a great book hope u got some rest

  3. I actually came thisclose to buying this book on Amazon yesterday! I'll have to add it to my wishlist for my next purchase. I love your lentil soup! Sounds super tasty.

  4. You know, I really like the premise of that book. That's one thing I've noticed about the vegan cookbooks that I can get expensive with all those mail-order ingredients. Although you know I'm not vegan or even vegetarian, I think I want to get myself a copy of this book. That soup looks fantastic. Oh, and can I just say...Twinkies are actually pretty expensive. ;)

  5. Vegan eating is probably the most economical way to eat... dried beans and grains, anyone? Glad you enjoyed your soup and another great round-up, Deb. :)


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