Thursday, February 08, 2007


In an effort to reduce our grocery budget for the month of February, JM and I decided we would try to eat meat-free soups. I wanted to make some soups I found in my two favorite soup cookbooks that I thought would be fairly budget-conscious.

The first I tried was called Colcannon Soup. For those who are aware, Colcannon is a very popular Irish food that is basically mashed potatoes and greens. The soup takes that basic idea and stretches it further with broth and milk. JM doesn't much like mushy greens, and I'm not hugely fond of them either. In an effort to make the soup edible to us both, I substituted cabbage for the greens. The result? Tasty and filling, although not something either of us would request. However, we both agreed that if we were in financial straits this would not at all be a bad option.

The second was a ridiculously easy Tomato Bisque. It's made from pantry staples, so it's also good "emergency" food. JM liked this one better than the Colcannon soup, although I think I like the other better. Either way, this was another good, cheap option.

Colcannon Soup:

*6 cups chicken stock (or water with boullion, or just water for those in severe financial crunches)
*4 or 5 potatoes, scrubbed and diced
*1 Tbs butter, oil, or other fat
*1 large onion, chopped
*1 lb greens (any combination of turnip, mustard, kale, collard, spinach, beet, radish tops, chard, cabbage... IOW whatever you can get your hands on), washed well and thinly ribboned/coarsely chopped
*1 cup milk
*1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk
*salt/pepper to taste

Boil potatoes in stock. Meanwhile saute onions in another pan in the fat until they are soft. Add greens and allow to wilt. When the potatoes are cooked, mash some or all and add the milk and evaporated milk/cream. Add the onion and greens mixture, season to taste. Makes about 7 servings.

We worked out that the soup cost us about $0.50 a meal, but the cost could have been cut further if I had made the stock from scratch. I bought the expensive organic boxed variety in the store because I was feeling lazy. :-/ Nevertheless, it was still one of the least expensive meals I had made since our wedding.

Tomato Bisque:

*1 Tbs butter, oil, or other fat
*1 large onion, chopped
*1 28-oz can chopped tomatoes, in juice
*1 bay leaf
*2 whole cloves
*1 tsp dried basil
*1 cup plus 3 Tbs evaporated milk, or more as needed
*2 Tbs cornstarch
*salt/pepper to taste

Saute onion in fat until soft. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, cloves and basil. Simmer about 5 minutes. In another saucepan heat 1 cup of the evaporated milk to just under a boil. Mix the cornstarch with the remaining milk and whisk into the hot milk. Add to the tomato mixture, making sure to temper the milk so it does not curdle (although I forgot this step and it seemed to make no difference). Serves 3. Can easily be doubled/tripled.

This one cost about $0.60 per person -- but if I could have gotten the condensed milk at a cheaper price it could have been cut even more. Serve both meals with homemade bread or biscuits.

There are more frugal soups to come! Next week is December Cream of Root Soup and an interesting-looking mung bean (yellow split pea) Indian soup! Mmm...

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5 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • CappuccinoLife

    Those sound delicious!

    Our favorite meatless soup is roasted garlic and barley soup--it is very, very garlicky!

  • Mrs. P

    Hi there! This is the first time I have seen your blog. We are an innerracial couple too. lol people keep asking me "what is your husband?" I assume because his mother is French and Hatian and his father is polynesian. Anyway I look forward to reading more.

  • Harmony

    Mrs P:
    People always ask JM what he is, too! Not too many people can tell the difference between Korean and Japanese and Chinese (and other Asians as well, I assume... but the ones he gets asked the most about are Japanese and Chinese).

  • Myfriendconnie

    We love potato soup and chicken and dumplin's. I know the latter has meat, but using a whole chicken is very frugal, and my man needs MEAT!

  • Frugal Celiac

    There are actually even easier (and inexpensive) recipes for tomato soups and potato soups that have become a hit with my family.

    If you are interested, I can send them along to you.