Cheap Eats in these \Interesting Times””

You can practically live on soup and bread if you’re really hard up and cutting back on the cash outflow.Make the soup thick and rich, make lots, eat it with wholemeal bread, peanut butter or cheese, and finish with fruit.PRACTICALLY NO WASHING UP!Soups are easy, soups are fun, soups are quickTimingSoups are about 20 minutes – but doesn’t take into account softening the pluses (Hard Dried Peas, Butter Beans, Lentils, Red Kidney Beans). Do this the day or night before. It tastes even better and becomes rich and sloppy.Throw your pluses into a pot and cover well with water just before you go to bed. Get in the habit of keeping bowls of pluses soaking beside the cooker.Soup MixThis is all you need ever do for a rock-bottom priced, yet healthy meal.Simmer about 100g (4 oz) of any pulses for an hour to soften them up.Take a large onion, a couple of carrots, a bit of garlic, if you like.Add more veg, if you want – cabbage stems, tough bits of celery, etc.Chop it all up into small pieces.Gently fry the chopped onions and garlic, DON’T BROWN THEM.Chuck in the rest and fry for 3-4 minutes.Add a litre (2 Pints) of water – The water you cooked the pulses in is good.Stir in a large teaspoon of Marmite and any herbs you fancy.Bring to a steady simmer.This is the Basic MixAdd your soaked and simmered pulses and 50g (2 oz) of rice and season to taste. Simmer for about 20 minutes until it’s all slushy.VariationsFor thicker soups, use potatoes, a tablespoon of peanut butter, or mash up the pulses.Red Pea SoupThis is from Jamaica, where red kidney beans are known as “Red Peas”Use lots of onion and garlic, be liberal with thyme and black pepper. Add a little piece of chilli pepper, if you have any, and increase the amount of soaked red kidney beans to 250g (8 oz). Use a tin of red kidney beans for speed. Cook until it’s really soft and mash it up a bit.You could add some dumplings by mixing up a bit of flour with a teaspoon of baking powder. Make a dough with a little water and roll tiny twists of it between your hands. Drop the into the simmering soup and cook for another 10 minutes.Tomato SoupJust use the onion and garlic and carrots. Mix up with a large tine of chopped tomatoes and a teaspoon of brown sugar. Don’t use Marmite, but mix in some Ketchup instead.OnionJust 4 onions and garlic, and lots of Marmite.MinestroneAdd a large tin of tomatoes and 100g (4 oz) of soften haricot beans (or Baked Beans) to your basic mix, throw in some broken spaghetti (75g or 3 oz). This should be more like a stew and tastes fantastic with some grated cheese!These are just some ideas. Chuck in anything you want to the basic mix, and play around with it. You can even make soup from chestnuts!