Lentils are cheap and filling and I think they actually taste pretty good. I guess they take on whatever flavor they are paired with, kind of like tofu or Brad Pitt.
In the winter, I like to cook soup in my crockpot on the weekends. It’s aromatherapy.
- About 2 cups of dried lentils (I’m going to guess about 99c on this one). Rinse them and make sure you check for little debris/rocks etc.
- Look in the fridge. You’re looking for vegetables that aren’t looking so hot, but haven’t gone to the bad place just yet. I grabbed a random half of an onion, a head of bendy celery, the last few bendy carrots, and half of a head of cabbage I don’t even remember buying. Let’s call this $2.00 total. Chop these up into bite sized chunks.
- Look in the freezer. At some point back in August I was feeling spry and made some vegetable broth in the crockpot, using veg scraps I had been collecting in the freezer. I had two quart-sized bags left. $0.
- Herbs and spices. Whatever you have handy — garlic powder, onion powder, chile powder, cumin, curry, etc. Not counting this toward my total because it would be like 2 cents.
Put lentils, vegetables, herbs, and spices in the crockpot. I read somewhere that if you add salt or acid too early, the lentils will never get soft. So hold off on the salt for now and add it at the end. Add liquid. This can be stock, broth, water with bouillon, canned broth, or just plain water. Make sure you can cover your solids with liquid by at least about 2″.
Cook lentils on high for about an hour, then turn down to low and cook another 8 hours or so. Check on it after about 6 hours and make sure the lentils aren’t getting too soft. They should have a little texture but not be crunchy… like a pasta or potato I guess. You’ll know.
Add salt and something acidic right before you eat it, like a hot sauce, splash of apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice, or something pickled, like a tablespoon or so of chow-chow.
Bonus: Look in your fridge AGAIN. We had some leftover ham which we were saving for dinner, but I chopped up about 1 oz and stirred into my lentil soup. Excellent!
Total cost for a large crockpot full of more lentils than anyone could ever really need: $3. I would estimate about 12 lunch-sized portions, so that works out to about 25 cents per meal! (If you add a bonus fridge meat, it would increase the price depending on the meat cost.)
I should caution you against eating too many lentils. It’s basically like a big bowl of beans so just… go easy… don’t have 3 servings in a day or you’ll be sorry. 🙂