$30 Bucks a Week was a feature on NY12’s Brooklyn cable news yesterday!  We were interviewed by the extremely nice Kena Vernon at our local supermarket and then took her back to our apartment to make some lentil and sweet potato soup.  The segment is brief, but we were excited that our message of shopping for fresh food and staying away from prepackaged stuff came through.

For the soup, we sauteed chopped onions and sweet potatoes in olive oil and added 1 cup of homemade broth concentrate, 2 cups of water, a cup of lentils and salt, pepper and fresh thyme.  We let the whole thing simmer until the lentils were cooked through and it was the perfect lunch to accompany today’s rainy day.

30 Bucks a Week on NY12


Tomato and Basil Soup

It’s getting to be sick season in our apartment, so a lot of soup is being made.  This is a super-easy Tomato and Basil Soup made from herbs from 3rd Ward‘s plot at the DeKalb Market.  We’re doing some harvesting over there and getting the plot ready for winter – if you haven’t stopped by, check it out!  Cool container shops and delicious eats make for a lovely stroll in downtown Brooklyn.

Back to the soup.

Tomato and Basil Soup


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large cans whole tomatoes
  • 3-4 cups basil leaves, washed
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice
  • 1 spring rosemary
  • 1 small carrot

To Do:

  1. Set your oven to broil and line 2 cookie sheets with tinfoil and place the tomatoes from the cans on them.  Reserve all of the liquid in the cans.
  2. Simmer the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot on the stove.
  3. Add the onions and sautee until they are browned – feel free to add a bit of water if the onions are sticking to the bottom of the pot.  More decadent?  Add olive oil instead.
  4. Add the garlic to the pot and put heat to low and cover.  You want the mixture to become nice and browned without burning, so add more liquid and adjust the heat if necessary.
  5. Pop the tomatoes under the broiler for about 5 minutes – they should get slightly blistery on top.
  6. While the tomatoes are in the broiler, add the tomato liquid to the pot on the stove and stir.
  7. Take the tomatoes out of the oven (turn off oven), fold the tinfoil in half and just plop the tomatoes and their juices into the pot.  Mash around with a big wooden spoon and add the quinoa, rosemary, carrot and basil.  Bring to a boil and then let simmer for about 15 minutes.  If it looks too much like pasta sauce, add water or broth.  I just filled one of the tomato cans full of water and used that.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Remove the carrot and rosemary spring and then carefully (it’s hot!), blend the soup in batches or use an immersion blender.  I wanted a very smooth soup, so I opted for the blender.
  9. Serve in big bowls with breadcrumbs and fresh basil leaves (optional).

You can, of course, omit the step of roasting the tomatoes a bit.  I thought it created an interesting flavor, but bet the soup would be tasty without that step.  The quinoa was added because I had some cooked in the fridge, but also thought it would provide a creaminess that normally some sort of dairy would provide.  Happy to say that it worked beautifully AND with quinoa you have the added bonus of adding a complete protein to your meal!  Add some salad and you’ve got a simple supper.

When Two Soups Become One

Yesterday’s homemade minestrone melded with a frozen batch of extra-spicy caldo verde to produce this hearty Frankensteinian love child. This is a face only a mad scientist could love, but it’s just about perfect as we finally start getting some fall days.

Gazpacho (with Bits)

Yet another hot day in New York. Inspired by a fried who brought some gazpacho to a picnic last Sunday, we decided to make out own for dinner. Tomatoes (from the garden), half a peeled cucumber, half a red pepper, half an onion, a remaining bit of jalapeno, a semi-stale piece of pita, a last bit of cilantro, and a handful of cashews and almonds – threw it all in the food processor and there you have it. Or there you WOULD have it, if we hadn’t gone the extra mile and added some fresh, raw kernels of some amazing sweet corn that Tina found for super-cheap at the farmers market during closing time. Also, some chunks of our one remaining tomato.

Look, gazpacho is never going to be the most photogenic soup. But this guys was real tasty and (most importantly) cool.

One more thing: we had a friend over for dinner last night and I promised her I’d showcase her contribution. She’s a true gourmand.

Cold Cucumber and Avocado Soup

Inspired by a soup we had at Char 4 a month or so ago, we decided to make a cold cucumber and avocado soup at home with cucumbers from my mom’s garden.  This recipe couldn’t be any easier.

Cold Cucumber and Avocado Soup


  • 2 medium cucumbers (peeled, seeded and chopped)
  • 1 ripe avocado (peeled and chopped)
  • 1-2 cups veggie broth
  • juice of one lime
  • salt, to taste

To Do:

  1. Put the cucumbers, avocado, 1 cup of veggie broth and the juice of one lime in a blender and blend.
  2. If you want to thin out your soup, add more broth.
  3. Taste and add salt as desired.
  4. Chill if you want it colder.
  5. Top with homemade croutons if you have some around and slurp it down.

Summertime Borscht

Whipped this up last night since we had a large salad for dinner and needed something to bring in for lunch.  I wish I had a picture because it is the PINKEST soup I have ever made.  It is also extremely refreshing – necessary during this heatwave.

I peeled and chopped up the chiogga beets Phil bought last week (.71 lbs) and simmered them with 2 cloves of chopped garlic in 3 cups of homemade veggie stock for about a half hour.  I then blended the whole thing and added salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and about a cup of plain yogurt with 1/4 cup of chopped dill and a tablespoon of vinegar (lemon juice would also work well).  Blend in a blender and season to your liking.  Chill in the fridge overnight.  Serves 2.

Red Cabbage Soup

I’ve been sick for the past couple of days so after eating lots of broth and toast, I was looking forward to something a little more substantial for dinner.  We had a lot of shredded cabbage that a friend (Thanks R.!) brought over the other day and I had gotten some pasta ($1) after the Monday shopping shift (Phil also spent $3 on potatoes and black beans leaving us a total of $1.31 for the week).  The soup is really simple, but quite flavorful from the homemade vegetable broth.

Red Cabbage Soup


  • teaspoon or more (if you like) of olive oil
  • half an onion, chopped
  • half a cup of white wine (or water)
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup pasta shells
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

To Do:

  1. Heat oil in a large pot and add the onion.  Sautee until onion gets soft and translucent (about 5 minutes) and then add wine.
  2. Add the cabbage and stir it around a bit.  Stir in the broth and the chopped carrot.  Add a little bit of salt and pepper here.
  3. Bring the heat down to a simmer and let it cook for about 10 minutes.  If you want to add more broth or water, go ahead (this wasn’t a measured process).
  4. Add the pasta and paprika and bring the soup to a boil for about 5 minutes.  Reduce heat and cook for another 5 minutes or so.
  5. Taste and add salt and pepper until it tastes great.  Serve.