Musing on food and cooking ...

Friday, January 26, 2007

Best Soup Ever
How Heather Got Seven Meals for Under $15

Last week, I got a hankering for boiled dinner. And the hankering did not go away all week so I knew, I just knew, I had to give in to it. Not that I struggle all that hard against cravings anyway, but still.

For all those who don't know, boiled dinner is a typical bit of peasant food. In the case of my family tradition, it is basically a chunk of somewhat salty ham, cabbage, carrots, and potatoes thrown into a pot, cover with water, and then boiled. The ham gets all soft and juicy and the broth is tasty, and when you eat it, you throw stuff on your plate, smoosh the taters, spoon on the broth, and maybe - maybe - put a pad of butter on the cabbage. Damn good stuff!

So, I went to go and gather the ingredients only to discover that all the available hams were huge - big enough to feed a family of 24 - way too big for little old me to make myself some boiled dinner. So after a nice discussion with the butcher, I decided to purchase some pork hocks - four fresh and two smoked - in palce of the ham ($4.13). I also got a head of Savoy cabbage ($1.93), two large carrots ($.63), a dozen small potatoes ($1.23), and three small ears of corn ($1.49). Total so far - $9.41.

I took everything home and chucked the hocks in my largest pot, chopped the cabbage and carrot into large pieces and chucked them in the pot, too. Then I added to corn cobs (trying adding corn on the cob to your soups... they add an incredible flavour). Then I scrubbed the potatoes (I got baby ones so they didn't need to be chunked). I added some salt (because I wasn't using ham) and proceeded to boiled it all until the potatoes were just soft. Then I ate.

Because there was so much in the pot, I knew it would be more than one meal. I kept everything in there, though, and every night reboiled it, further infusing the water with yummyness. I ahd boiled dinner for four nights. There were still a few little potatoes left, so I took those out and for breakfast mashed them up with onions and a beaten egg and fried them up as little potato pancakes. Then, I took the about two quarts of broth left, added some chopped onions, threw in about a cup of lentils and a half cup of barley and cooked it til the lentils and lentils were cooked. Hark! Two nights of the best soup ever!

I think the soup was so good because the flavour of the hocks had been concentrated and also because I used a special spice mix I had never tried before - something Australian that is called "garlic and onion" but also includes cloves, cumin, cinnamon, bell peppers and a bunch of other cool stuff. I got it at TJ Maxx, where I also find the coolest cooking mixes. It's great because they are cheap so if what you picks up sucks, no biggie. But it's bad because if you really like something, you may never find it again. I am currently facing that with my "grind your own" African BBQ spice mill. Which I adore tremendously but have never seen again since I found it. It also cannot be found on the internet and I can only make an educated guess as to what is really in it.

So anyway, the cost of the lentils and the onion and the barley and the egg was way under $5 bucks, so my grand total for seven very filling meals was under $15.

1 comment:

Jenn said...

So cheap!