One-Pot Wonders

78¢ Soup

May 19, 2011
1 Ratings
  • Serves 1 with leftovers for lunch; for more, do the math. It'll still be 78 cents per serving
Author Notes

1. The contest asks for our best dirt cheap recipes, yet Amanda and Merrill and the Small Kitchen ladies have been, I am sure some will agree, maddeningly obscure as to precisely what they mean by "dirt" and "cheap".

2. Sarah Shatz's typically perfect photo, on the other hand, adds up to exactly 78 cents. Now that's something I can work with.

3. I love beans. They are almost the perfect food. I stockpile them both canned and dry, in colors black, white, red, and anything others that look interesting (and since the Bulk Bin project, many more look interesting). And I love garbanzo beans especially. On a salad, smashed into a hummus, in a soup.

4. With 78 cents to work with, I looked around the kitchen to see what I had to work with. The results turned out to be perfect for a rainy spring evening.


What You'll Need
  • splash olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, fine dice
  • 1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, including liquid
  • 8 ounces vegetable or chicken stock, homemade
  • 1" wide strip of zest from an orange
  • 1 small handful fresh spinach, stemmed
  • Sea or kosher salt to taste
  • A few passes of Parmesan over the microplane
  • Some snips of fresh chives or Italian parsley
  1. Let's stipulate some things first. Homemade vegetable or chicken stock are free, okay? So are salt and pepper. And the electricity or gas to cook with, the water to wash up afterwards, and the lights - consider them overhead costs - so you're not cooking by candlelight. Besides, candles aren't cheap.
  2. Heat a small soup pot. Add enough olive oil to sauté half an onion fine diced (you'll use the whole half, but only eat half the soup: 12.4¢). Add a touch of salt and sauté until onions (1/2 of 1/2 half onion = 6.2¢) are softened. Open the can of garbanzo beans (you'll use the whole can, but only eat half the soup, so 1/2 can out of a 6-pack = 35.75¢) and add them, liquid and all. Add about a cup of vegetable or chicken stock (free!). Shave off a piece of orange zest a good inch wide (as good as free because when you eat the orange for dessert, which it must be noted is technically NOT dinner, you'll peel it and either compost the peels or not feed them to the rabbits). Carve it into a fan with your sharpest knife, keeping it attached at one end. Drop it into the soup. Bring to a nice, gentle simmer. Let simmer for 15 minutes or so to concentrate some flavors. Trim the stems off your spinach leaves (about an ounce, 22.6¢). Compost them or feed them to the rabbits.
  3. When it tastes about right, drop in spinach leaves. As soon as they wilt, season soup to taste with sea or kosher salt and pepper (free). Pull out the orange peel. Fill a bowl. Shave some lovely Parmesan over the soup. Step over to the chive or Italian parsley plant growing in the window and cut some to snip over your soup (free!). Total cost: 54.3¢, which gives you an allowance of 23.7¢ to cover the cost of your olive oil and Parmesan cheese.
  4. Glass of wine to accompany: priceless.
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  • aargersi
  • gingerroot
  • midnitechef
  • wssmom

36 Reviews

shoestringmama February 27, 2012
Hi Boulangere - I tried and I really liked it. My version was a tad more expensive as I used (good) store bought stock (yikes! I know) and used a bit more than 8 oz (more like 2+ cups) and I added carrots with the onions. I loved the orange zest - that was "orangenius" (my 7 yr olds' word!). Will positively make this again, and maybe try cannellini beans next time? My changes increased the price I realize but it's still a very wholesome healthy dirt cheap dinner (even using mostly organic ingredients) ... yum! And the next day it tasted even better, especially if you leave the organge zest in it. Thank you for being creative. And I love your story telling recipe math.
wewhine May 26, 2011
Were you a math teacher in a former life? (BTW This is awesome)
boulangere May 27, 2011
I was a financial analyst. Now I dip into it for fun.
Panfusine May 27, 2011
its fascinating.. the myriad backgrounds & academic training everyone here on Food52 is, and yet, its so lovely to just talk about.. FOOOOD!!!!
boulangere May 27, 2011
Most definitely!
aargersi May 24, 2011
Love this! Garbanzos, orange, parmesan - yum. AND - we get to eat the rabbit too, right?
boulangere May 24, 2011
You are too much!
boulangere May 24, 2011
Check out those darlings in photo #3. Panda and Pearl. Their job is to provide, uh, fertilizer for my compost bins.
boulangere May 24, 2011
Actually #2.
aargersi May 25, 2011
Oh my goodness they are CUTE! Those are not eating bunnies, they are the cuddling kind. The eating ones come in a package at the farmer's market :-)
boulangere May 25, 2011
Definitely cuddlers!
gingerroot May 24, 2011
I love everything about this! I too love beans, especially chickpeas, and soup. I can almost taste this with the bright, fragrant orange zest.
boulangere May 24, 2011
Thank you so much gingerroot.
midnitechef May 24, 2011
I would opt for navy beans myself and use the 23.7 cents for a slice of bacon to start off the onion in the pot. You're conversation throughout the recipe is hilarious ;-)
boulangere May 24, 2011
Love your idea!
wssmom May 23, 2011
You are too funny and this recipe is delightful! As is the headnote! LOL!
boulangere May 23, 2011
Too sweet you are, as always!
RIPNGUITAR May 21, 2011
Thank You Chef Cynthia (boulangere) for another fine dish. I Got to use the fresh Chives from the garden too. It is gloomy outside but this brightened my day. Delicious, satisfying and fun to eat.
boulangere May 21, 2011
The evening I first made this, it was raining also, and I still think of it as rainy day food. Glad you liked it.
Lizthechef May 20, 2011
Can you brighten your photo?
boulangere May 21, 2011
You're right, the first one looked like I'd shot it in a closet. I was in a ripping rush to get a photo posted before 10 (my midnight EST). I'd passed over the brighter one because the orange looks a little too neon, but at least you can see the soup. Thanks for asking!
Sagegreen May 21, 2011
You may want to delete the darker photo now so only the brighter one will load. Of course then you could upload the deleted one and then it would not have any votes, so would stay in the background. At least that is how I have found the system to work when you want to toggle.
boulangere May 21, 2011
Thank you Sagegreen, Brilliant as usual.
Sagegreen May 20, 2011
Brilliantly calculating!
boulangere May 20, 2011
You're too much!
mrslarkin May 20, 2011
Perfect! I, too, noticed the 78 cents in the picture, and almost didn't submit anything because it felt so...stiflingly impossible to stay within the dirt cheap price range. But as you've show, it can be done!
boulangere May 20, 2011
I started out just trying to fit into a size 78¢ dinner, but it became very interesting to think about food costs at home, and how ingredients can be stretched and how wonderful the results can be.
Panfusine May 19, 2011
love it... the perfect pick me up 'I me myself time' dish! to get away from the daily you say, a glass of wine wd be great, just tack on a chick flick like mamma mia & it'll be HEAVEN!!!!!!
boulangere May 20, 2011
I probably watch Mama Mia once a month. And P.S. I Love You.
Panfusine May 20, 2011
Brilliant choice in movies!
boulangere May 20, 2011
Hahahahahaha! I don't often let that be widely known. Very reassured to know you bring your great brains to the same movies.
susan G. May 19, 2011
Impeccable reasoning and good taste too. Chick peas have been soaking today -- you're just in time!
boulangere May 19, 2011
Oh, I admire you. Somehow, and I know it's irrational, I just don't have the patience to soak chickpeas.
susan G. May 19, 2011
The pressure cooker is the secret (and a dirt cheap coup at a yard sale).
boulangere May 20, 2011
You are so much smarter and braver than I am. I'm terrified of pressure cookers. Irrational, I know, but there you are.
boulangere May 19, 2011
Working on a photo. Bean lovers unite!