Ah, the joys of running out of money … it prompts one to reach for the tried, true and economical in the cooking repertoire. Here’s a delicious soup/stew that I make during winter, but you can eat it all year round. I got the recipe on the web some years ago, but have modified it enough to feel confident about claiming it as my own take on the traditional faki or lentil stew. It’s incredibly cheap to make, all the ingredients are vegan/pareve, and it uses a very different technique to a traditional soup/stew method, starting off with boiling stock rather than building a base on a mirepoix.
1.5 cups brown lentils (dried)
2 L vegetable stock
1 medium bulb fennel, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 bottle of tomato sugo (pureed tomato – 750ml – buy the italian brand from the supermarket, or puréed tomatoes, or blend canned tomatoes to a purée with a stick blender)
2 bay leaves, 2 sprigs thyme
Rinse the lentils thoroughly. Now here’s the strange part. Start by boiling the stock – must be a good rolling boil. Then add all the vegetables (fennel, carrot, garlic, onion) along with the lentils, oil, sugo and herbs. Bring back to the boil, take down to a simmer. Cover partially with a lid, and cook for just under an hour, stirring occasionally. If you like, you may add some greens towards the end – beetroot greens, silverbeet or spinach about 10 minutes before the hour is up, heavier greens like kale or chard maybe 20 minutes before. Once the hour is up, check for seasoning (it will definitely need salt and pepper). This should make up to 6 servings, and costs well under $10 to make. I like to garnish with a bit of crumbled feta – but any cheese would be nice.