$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

Butternut Soup Accomplished

The earlier post on butternut squash soup managed to convince us of what we should have for dinner tonight.

We used the roasting method and also, we rinsed the seeds from the squash and toasted them with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  They made a nice, crunchy garnish.

Fall Means Butternut Squash

With the cold weather suddenly descending on New York, it seems like a good time to swing into our fall recipes in earnest.  During our recent apple-picking trip, we also bought a butternut squash – a core piece of autumn produce.  We’ve posted a number of good butternut recipes over the lat few years, but looking back over our archives I was surprised not to find a post on what is probably our quintessential use for this gourd: butternut squash soup.  Ubiquitous, yes, but also delicious, easy, and requiring very few ingredients.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 large onion, chopped

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed

olive oil

salt and pepper

vegetable broth (but water works too)

Really, the hardest part of this whole recipe is preparing the squash itself.  I have yet to find a peeling method that doesn’t seem more difficult than it should be.  Once you’ve got it peeled, seeded, and cut into cubes, you can go one of two routes.  The easiest possible cooking method is to start by cooking the onions in the soup pot (with olive oil, salt and pepper, until translucent), then add several cups of broth or water, dump in the squash, bring to a boil, then cook until the squash is soft.

However, if you want to go the extra mile, you can roast the squash cubes in the oven (still with olive oil, maybe even adding some rosemary or sage) until they get brown, cook the onions and broth as described above, and then add the squash to the broth already cooked.  This method will generally produce a richer-tasting soup in my experience.

In either case, you end up with cooked squash and onion in hot broth, which you then want to blend.  We have an immersion blender which is ideal for the job, but you could also transfer to a blender or food processor in batches.  Serve it with a crispy bread.

This is one of those recipes that we tend to eyeball, rather than having exact measurements.  Some trial and error will get you to a point where you know what ratios of onion, squash, and broth you want to use in order to get a blended soup with your preferred consistency.

Sunchoke Soup with Tempeh & Pumpkin Seeds

We really enjoy sunchokes (a.k.a. Jerusalem artichokes), but they are a pain to clean!  Armed with my trusty vegetable peeler, I made short work of a bunch of them and a lone russet potato to make this soup.  Inspired by this recipe, I changed things up by using what we had at hand and it was delicious!  We ate some cold the other night and I almost liked it even more.  A refreshing alternative to vichyssoise!  For the tempeh and pumpkin seeds I made a marinade out of some soy sauce, grapefruit juice, sesame oil and a few other things from the fridge.  Srchicha was probably involved.  I let the tempeh soak for about an hour and then baked them in the oven at about 375F – turning them until all sides were golden brown.  I then brushed some of the leftover marinade over pumpkin seeds and baked those until they got toasty.  These were the toppers for the soup.

Sunchoke Soup


  • 1 potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • about a pound of sunchokes, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3-4 cups of broth
  • 1/2 cup half and half or creamer of your choice
  • salt and pepper to taste

To Do:

  1. Place cubed sunchokes and potatoes in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil.  Cook until a fork pierces the pieces easily and drain.
  2. Rinse the pot and add a bit of olive oil to coat the bottom.  Over medium heat, saute the onions until soft and translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.  Put the cooked sunchokes and potatoes in the pot and add about 3 cups of the broth.  Let it come to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and blend the soup carefully (blender, immersion blender, food processed, whatever – just be careful with hot liquids!).  Put it back in the pot and add the cream and bring to a gentle simmer.  Add more broth if the soup seems too thick.  Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve topped with seitan cubes, pumpkin seeds or chives for garnish.

Tomato and Garlic Soup (and spending update)

It was a rainy Sunday and the thought of a big pot of soup simmering in the crockpot for a few hours was comforting.  A smattering of ingredients later resulted in 8 heaping servings of soup!  You can simmer this on the stove if you don’t have a crockpot, I just didn’t want to deal with hovering in the kitchen.

Tomato and Garlic Soup


  • 2 large onions, chopped finely
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 2 28-ounce cans diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 4-6 cups vegetable broth or water
  • salt and pepper and crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 cup roughly chopped basil
  • old bread (optional)
  • can of beans, rinsed well (optional)

To Do:

  1. Heat up about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot.  Saute the onions in a until they are a nice golden color and add the garlic.  Alternatively, stick onions and garlic in a crockpot and let them cook until golden (ours was set on high for 4 hours).  Feel free to add some vegetable broth if the onions appear to be sticking to your pot/crockpot.
  2. Add in the tomatoes and 4 cups of the broth/water and stir everything together.  Bring to a boil and let simmer, covered for about an hour.  Feel free to add more liquid if you think it’s too chunky.  If your using a crockpot, dump everything in there and let it cook.
  3. Add salt, pepper and crushed red pepper to taste.  Add beans if you want some protein.
  4. Puree soup a bit if you want a smoother consistency – we used a stick blender for just a minute.
  5. Put stale bread in the bottom of a large bowl.  Ladle hot soup over bread.  Add lots and lots of chopped basil.  Consume!

Realizing that we had quite a bit of money ($11) left over from the previous week, I decided it was OK to get some stuff at the Pioneer for the soup.

  • 2 28 ounce cans of diced tomatoes: $3
  • 1 head of garlic: $0.35
  • bunch of basil: $1.50
  • bag of onions: $1.00
  • tomato paste: $0.50

TOTAL: $6.35 (still under!)

Super Simple Rutabaga Soup

Rutabaga and Potato Soup

Phil bought an enormous rutabaga at the Coop a week or two ago and also made a huge batch of stock this past Sunday.  Rutabaga + stock sounded like soup to me.  Very hearty and easy to make – an excellent weeknight meal!

Super Simple Rutabaga Soup


  • olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 huge rutabaga or a few small ones, peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1.5 quarts vegetable stock or a mix of stock and water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sesame seeds to garnish (optional)

To Do:

  1. Heat up a splash of olive oil in a large pot and add the onion.  Cook the onion until it is very dark – about 10 minutes.  Going for a burned onion taste here.  Add some water to the pot if it’s getting too smokey.
  2. Add the garlic and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook until rutabaga and potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.  Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
  4. Puree the soup in batches with a blending machine of your choice.  Or don’t puree, this recipe is also lovely as a chunky soup.
  5. Top with toasted sesame seeds if desired.
  6. Serve with salad and some True Grit Cornbread Muffins for a meal.

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.