I know for a fact that eating a healthy meat-free diet is not only good for me, but it has drastically reduced my grocery bill. You might be thinking that an organic tomato is pricey, and it is compared to a conventionally grown tomato. But even the cost of the priciest organic produce looks like a drop in the bucket compared to a $35 steak.
Now if you look at the wholesome goodness of beans, lentils and chickpeas, then we are really getting somewhere. These goodies are excellent nutritional powerhouses, all naturally low in fat and high in protein and fiber. They come in a convenient canned option, or an even more affordable dried version. And thats were this weeks menu was born from… the beauty of a budget.
Since everyone can afford (pun intended) to save a few dollars I decided to see what I could do with an affordable weekly menu. I decided to start with a pound of dried chickpeas. I purchased them for a budget blowing $1.35 and cooked up the whole pound. Once they were cooked and refrigerated, all I had to do was show you lovely folks how versatile and delicious simple, cheap chickpeas can be.
In my first dish, Creamy Chickpea Tomato Basil Soup, the chickpeas serve as a smooth and creamy base for the tomatoes. Using them this way adds volume, nutrition and also cuts out unhealthy ingredients like heavy creamy that would usually be present in a tomato basil soup.
So I challenge you all to grab yourself a pound of chickpeas, get them cooked up and follow along in a lesson on how to create multiple meals on a bag of $1.35 chickpeas. Start with this soup and serve it with some toasted bread. Add a little Herbed Chickpea Spread to that bread for some added variety.
Creamy Chickpea Tomato Basil Soup
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 onion, peeled and diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 cups unsweetened original almond or soy milk
- 1 cup chickpeas, cooked and drained
- 2 15 oz. cans fire roasted tomatoes
- 1/2 cup basil leaves, packed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- basil leaves for garnish
In a large dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the olive oil.
Once heated, add the onion, celery and carrots and sauté until vegetables begin to soften.
Add the vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes until the carrots are tender.
Pour the vegetable mixture into a blender.
Add the garlic, almond milk, chickpeas, tomatoes to the blender and process until smooth and creamy.
Add the basil, salt and pepper and process until smooth.
Adjust seasoning to taste.
Return the mixture to the dutch oven. Bring to a slow simmer over medium heat and allow to heat thoroughly for about 30 minutes.
Serve hot and garnish with basil leaves, fresh cracked pepper and a drizzle of olive oil if desired. Serve with toasted bread and a salad.