Peanut Soup

I adapted this soup recipe from one of the first cookbooks I bought after we were married, A Celebration of Soups by Robert Ackart. I’ve kept that cookbook through 23 years, six states, and two countries. It has the scorchmarks and foodstains to prove it, too.

I didn’t try this recipe for several years, because the ingredients just seemed odd to me. One afternoon I thought I’d try it for the children, though. I thought they might like it. As it turned out the children all hated it, but the HM and I loved it. Ever since then it’s been one of ‘our’ winter meals when I’m making something just for the two of us.

Peanut Soup, makes two or three generous servings

Melt two tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan. Cook one cup of diced celery and six thinly sliced green onions (including the green) in this butter, stirring often. When the vegetables are brightly colored and shiny, stir in three tablespoons of flour and stir gently over low heat until it makes a smooth paste.
Gradually pour in four cups of liquid- this should be some mixture of milk and chicken broth. 50/50 is fine, or you can use one cup broth, one cup water, and two cups milk.
Each time you pour in some liquid you will stir the mixture over low heat until it thickens (stir out any lumps), then add more liquid. When you have added all the liquid and the mixture is smooth and thick, scoop out the vegetables with a slotted spoon, or use a sieve, and puree them in a blender. You can add a bit of the liquid to the blender if your blender requires such assistance.
Add the pureed veggies to the liquid again, and still over very low heat, whisk in 1/2 cup of peanut butter, the juice of 1/2 a lemon (we use bottled lemon juice), a few drops of Tabasco sauce, and salt to taste. Adjust these seasonings to taste.
Do not boil this soup, but serve it well hotted up, and garnish with chives and chopped peanuts. We like some homemade bread on the side.
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Roasted Winter Vegetables

Vegetarian Version:
My version serves ten. Most of you’d need to reduce it.  You also do not have to use the vegetables below, and I have a photograph and another version further below:

vegetable cooking spray
2 lbs. winter squash such as hubbard, butternut, or acorn: peel, seed, cut into two inch chunks
4 large carrots, sliced
2 small parsnips, sliced
4 medium Potatoes, unpeeled, halved, sliced
4 medium onions, cut into wedges
4-5 cups cooked Great Northern beans
4-5 cups cooked pinto beans
1 Tbs. dried basil leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 cup mixed dried fruit, cut into large pieces
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup parsley

Line large jelly roll pan with aluminum foil; spray with cooking spray. Combine fresh vegetables and beans on pan; spray generously with cooking spray, sprinkle with herbs and toss. Bake uncovered at 425°F until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes, adding dried fruit the last 5 minutes Spoon vegetable into bowl. Mix vinegar and oil; drizzle over vegetables, add parsley and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

This is sooo yummy. We used diced dried apricots for the fruit because we had some, but raisins would work, too. I’ve also tried it with balsamic vinegar, and it was delicious.

I’ve also made it in my electric roaster for potlucks.

Linked at My Meatless Mondays

If you don’t want a vegetarian dish, this is good with sausage or other kinds of pork.

Here’s another version we made in early September using vegetables from our garden, from the organic farm near my daughter’s house, and herbs and spices from my co-op:

For this we used:
4 Kohlrabi grown naturally on the farm near the HG’s house, peeled and put through the french fry cutter on my Bosch Food Processor
Two huge summer squash grown by my neighbor, peeled and put through the Bosch.
Half an onion because it was in the fridge, also put through the Bosch.  I do not recall the provenance of the onion;-)
half a bag of organic baby carrots, because they were in the fridge
two eggplants from the natural farm near the HG- we put these through the food processor, then soaked them in salt water for several hours, drained them well, pressed them in a colander to get more water out, and then added them to the other vegetables
A bunch of potatoes purchased in a fifty pound bag and split with a friend. We bought them at an Amish bulk foods store on a long day trip where we also bought nitrate free beef bacon from grass fed cows, beef hearts for .89 a pound, undyed cheeses, ground beef from grass fed cows, and other delightful goodies.
The potatoes were an obscenely low price- I don’t remember exactly any more, but the fifty pound bag was in the neighborhood of what we’d usually pay for a 20 pound bag.

I think we used ten potatoes because we were feeding, um, let me think, around a dozen people. The potatoes we popped into a bowl of cold water as soon as they were cut, as potatoes oxidize quickly once their innards are exposed to the air.

Just before we popped the pans into the oven we added some cheap sausage.

In a very large bowl (the old Tupperware Thatsa Bowl, which holds 42 cups), I put olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  I am afraid I did not measure, I just eyeballed and tastetested.  I would guess it was about 1 1/2 cups of oil and half that of vinegar, but no promises.
Then I went through the spice cupboard and added:
Rosemary (ground in the coffee mill I use for spices and herbs)
onion powder
sea salt
pepper from the Philippines (Jenny brought it back on her trip there)

Again- I just eyeballed it all, and sniffed it, and sometimes chose just because there were only, say, 3 tablespoons left of one spice, and I saw no point in using two instead of finishing off the bottle.
I whisked this mixture up.

Then we put the cut vegetables in the oil, put the lid on the bowl and shook it vigoursly to make sure everything got coated in oil.

We got out our biggest pans (four about like the one above), because you want the vegetables to be single layers.

We put them under the broiler (I am blessed to have a double oven) and roasted them at 400 for about 40 minutes.  They were good, but next time we will add the Kohlrabi and carrots first and give them a head start on the other vegetables.  The potatoes were perfect, the squash and eggplant perhaps just a tiny bit softer than optimum, but it was all still utterly delicious, even though there are a couple people who think this would be perfect with just potatoes, carrots, and sausage.=)

The point of listing the crunchy credentials of our foods above is not to be pretentious about the provenance of our food.  But this meal cost less than ten dollars and made enough to feed 14 or more people, so it more than falls within the ‘Five Dollar Challenge’ offered by the Slow Food Movement for September 17th, That challenge is, um, five dollars per person, not the usual five dollar per meal or less target most of our readers must manage.

Posted in frugal, legumes, main dish, side dish, vegetarian | Leave a comment

Onion and Bell Pepper Focaccia Bread

Onion and Bell Pepper Focaccia Bread
3 tsp. Yeast
3 cups Whole Wheat Bread Flour
1 tsp. Lecithin
1 tsp. Olive Oil
1 tsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Molasses (unsulphured)
1 Tbsp. Garlic (powder)
1 Tbsp. Basil (dried) and Rosemary each
1 tsp. Pepper (black, ground)
1-1/2 cups Water

1-1/2 cup sliced Onion
About two cups of frozen, mixed chopped peppers (yellow, red, green)
1 Tbsp. Garlic (crushed)
1 tsp. Pepper (black, ground)
1 Tbsp. Basil (dried)
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

Mix all the bread ingredients well. Oil your hands so you can work with the dough. Press it down on one cookie sheet. It should look something like a very thick pizza crust.

Let it rise.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a pan, add the crushed garlic, and sauté until translucent. Add the onions and seasonings and continue sautéing until the onions are translucent. Add the peppers and stir fry all until limp and brightly covered. Preheat oven to 375° F.

Bake the risen dough on the cookie sheet in the oven for just about five minutes and remove (it will still be very doughy and only slightly firm at the edges).

Gently spread the onion mix over the surface of the bread..
Place back in the over for about 10 minutes. Check the bread to make sure it is baking properly by lifting a corner of the bread with a spatula and peeking underneath to see that it is nicely brown. When golden brown remove from oven, slice and serve.

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Papa’s Italian Soup

It’s cold, gray, and drizzly here today. We’re putting on extra sweaters, pulling out the fleece lap robes, turning the portable gas stove up a notch, and snuggling closer. It’s a perfect day for Papa’s Italian Soup.

Start water to boil for curly pasta noodles. You will cook about a pound of the pasta noodles and keep them on the side with this soup. This recipe serves around 20 healthy appetites. If you need it to serve more, cook more pasta and add some water to the soup.

2 pounds smoked sausage or little smokies diced
fried with one lg onion (diced) and fresh garlic (no such thing as too much)

When the meat is browned, add:
1 large can diced tomatoes (approximately 20 ounces)
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach (10-16 ounces) and
10 cans of bean with bacon soup (You do add the 10 cans of water as well).

Just before serving top with about 1/4-1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Add the curly noodles to individual bowls when serving. The friend who gave us this recipe says she adds it to the soup if she thinks her family is going to finish it that night, otherwise the noodles get mushy by the next day, so then she just adds them to the individual bowls.

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Chicken and Artichoke Crepes

This is one of the receipts we primarily use for birthdays, holidays, or other special occassion. It is delicious, and not in the least bit economic of either money or time. In fact, it is very time consuming for a family of nine, particularly when our cook has multiple other calls upon her time, not the least of which is sitting upon the couch reading books. But it is tasty, very tasty.

Chicken and Artichoke Crepes

3 cups milk (please don’t use skim)
9 eggs (farm fresh with fat and sassy bright yellow yolks will be best)
2 cups flour (we use whole wheat, but white is more traditional)
6 tablespoons or so of coconut oil, butter, or, ew, margarine

Blend the first three ingredients together until smooth.
Place your crepe pan (or a flat bottomed frying pan) upon the burner over medium heat. A frying pan does work.
When the pan is hot add a dab of the butter. Tilt the pan all over to spread the melted butter evenly.
Now this is the tricksiest part- you will be adding about 2 tablespoons or so of batter to the pan at the same time that you are tilting the pan to make the batter spread itself into a very thin circle (ovals are also quite acceptable). You want to do this rather quickly so that you can set the pan down again and start your crepe cooking.
When the top no longer glistens wetly and the edges are lightly browned, flip the crepe and briefly cook the other side. This shouldn’t take long at all. You can use the edge of a butter knife to lift up an edge and peek under to see how it’s cooking.

Slide this crepe onto a platter or a tray. You don’t want to stack them while they are still hot, so make sure you have enough room to keep them separate. You can put a layer of waxed paper between crepes.

Repeat this 36 times for 36 crepes. You may now continue to the filling part, or you may set your crepes aside for later. They keep in the refrigerator about a week. To freeze them stack them with a piece of waxed paper between each one and wrap them well. To prepare, remove the number you need and permit them to come to room temperature before filling.
Do not refreeze crepes that have been frozen and defrosted.
You may also fill them and then freeze them (covered tightly) and bring them direct from freezer to oven when you are ready to serve them.


Chicken and Artichoke Crepe Filling

1 cup of butter (or margarine, but really, butter is nicer)
About one cup of onion, diced (I don’t worry too much about the amount)
3/4 pound of mushrooms, sliced (fresh is better)
9 tablespoons flour
2 cups of chicken broth
1 1/2 cups light cream or milk (we use milk generally)
6 cups diced, cooked chicken
36 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, drained, chopped. Jars of artichoke hearts work nicely, too.
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
about 2 cups grated swiss cheese

Melt enough of the butter in a saucepan and fry the onions in it until translucent, add mushrooms and cook until they are the consistency you like. Add the remaining butter, and as soon as it is melted add the flour and stir well, making a roux (it will be about as thick, but should not have any clumps of flour). Pour in a bit of the cream and broth and stir until it is smooth again. Continue to do this, adding some liquid, stirring until smooth and thickened, and adding more liquid, until al lthe liquid is used and the sauce is nicely thick. Watch carefully so that you do not scorch it.
Remove from heat and stir in the remaining ingredients (reserving the swiss cheese).

Take a 9X13 pan, grease it lightly. Place a crepe in it and gently spoon some of this mixture down the center of the crepe. Roll or fold the crepe to enclose. Place it, seam side down, in the edge of your pan. Continue until you have filled your pan (I think this makes two such pans for our family, one for us and one for the freezer).
You may refrigerate this overnight (covered), or cover it and place it in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes (longer if you refrigerated first)- just until it is hot all the way through. It is an impatient cook who serves a hot meal with a cold center.
When it is hot, sprinkle the swiss cheese all over the crepes and return to the oven for enough time for the cheese to melt.

It seems silly to speak of frugalities with such a profligate recipe, but there is no need to throw away our pennies unless we want to. You can cover the pans with foil, but the contents will be equally hot if you just place a cookie sheet over the top of the pans.

Serve with salad and olives on the side if you like.

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Cheeseburger Soup

I do not remember where we got this recipe, but it’s very frugal and very warming. It’s a big favorite with the Progeny. In fact, they requested it earlier this week, saying they had all been craving it.

Cheeseburger Soup


1/2 pound ground beef
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup shredded carrots
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
4 tablespoons butter
3 cups chicken broth
4 cups cubed potatoes (we don’t peel them)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (you can use arrowroot powder if you have a wheat allergy, but it doesn’t reheat as well if you do that).
2 cups cubed Cheddar cheese (or less)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup sour cream

1 In a large pot, melt 1 tablespoon butter or margarine over medium heat: cook and stir vegetables and beef , until beef is brown.
2 Stir in basil and parsley. Add broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10-12 minutes.
3 Melt the remainder of butter and stir in flour.Add the milk, stirring until smooth.
4 Gradually add milk mixture to the soup, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Stir in cheese. When cheese is melted, add sour cream and heat through. Do not boil.

Serve with toasted bread and fruit or salad

This serves about 5 people. We double it for our brood.

Posted in soup | 1 Response

Russian Tea

Russian Tea
The original recipe we use came from the cookbook Feed Me, I’m Yours

Over the last few years we have found more frugal versions, as well as more healthy versions- I’ll share those later.


* 3 cups sugar

* 2 cups orange flavored breakfast drink (powdered concentrate; we use Tang)

* 1 cup unsweetened tea mix

* 1 tsp ground cloves

* 1 tsp ground cinnamon

* 1 envelope unsweetened lemonade mix

– Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Store in an airtight container

– to serve, put 1 1/2 -2 rounded spoonfuls of mix into a cup filled with boiling water. Stir well.

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Cheese Moons

Cheese Moons

1 3/4 cups grated cheddar cheese (I prefer sharp)
1 cup flour (I prefer freshly ground whole wheat)
five tablespoons margerine or butter (butter is better)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Grease and lightly dust with flour a cookie sheet.
Grate cheese. Slice the butter in several small pieces.

Food Processor directions: Put grated cheese, diced butter, and flour in a food processor that has blades down in the bowl of the processor. Process with the metal blade for about 30 seconds, until a fairly smooth dough is formed.

No Food Processor directions: Grate the cheese and allow it to sit at room temperature, getting somewhat soft. Put the flour and butter in a bowl. Cut the butter into the flour as for biscuits or pie crust (i.e. use a pastry cutter, or take the butter and flour up between your clean hands and rub it between your hands, allowing the butter coated flour particles to fall down into the bowl, scoop up a good sized handful of flour and butter and repeat until the fat is thoroughly mixed in with the flour. Add the cheese and mix will with a fork, then squeeze it into dough using your hands.

Dust your hands lightly with flour. For each cookie take about two tablespoons of dough and form into a patty about 1/8th inch thick. Cut with a crescent moon shaped cookie cutter (or cut into crecents with a knife, or use a round cookie cutter and then cut the round moon into a crescent- or have full moons).

Place each moon on the cookie sheet. Create many moons this way, using up all the dough. Dust each moon with cinnamon (or sprinkle with a cinnamon and sugar mixture) and bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly brown at the tips of the crescent let cool on a sheet.

Serve these to your children with tea, pickled onions and poetry.

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Ginger Pear Crisp

* 6 pears, peeled and sliced (We don’t peel the pears; too much work, especially when the peel is actually quite good)
* 1 TBSP ground ginger
* 1/2 C. brown sugar
* 2 tsp ground cinnamon
* 2 TBSP butter, cut into bits

* 1/4 c. flour (we used freshly ground whole wheat)
* 3/4 c. oats
* 1/4 c. brown sugar
* 1/4 c. sugar
* 1 tsp ground cinnamon
* 6 TBSP butter

Toss first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Pour into a buttered baking dish.
Using a fork, combine the topping ingredients. Spread over pears. Bake at 350 degrees (fahrenheit) for 30 minutes, or until brown; bubbly.
The original recipe called for raisins to be mixed in with the pears; I think they’d prove an un-necessary distraction, but perhaps you feel differently.

The HG wrote this when she first posted it to the Common Room- Note: I happen to know that this is good because there was a whole pan left when I went to my grandparents’ this morning, and when I returned in the afternoon it was gone. Not a smidgen left. Very frustrating, and nothing left to do but bury myself in the solace of a big mug of chocolate milk.

Nourishing Traditions type:

* 6 pears, peeled and sliced (We don’t peel the pears; too much work, especially when the peel is actually quite good)
* 1 TBSP ground ginger
* 1/2 C. maple syrup or honey, drizzled over the fruit in the oiled pan
* 2 tsp ground cinnamon
* 2 TBSP butter, cut into bits, OR Coconut Oil

* 1/4 c. ground, unsweetened coconut (or coconut flour)
* 3/4 c. Almonds or other nuts
*1/4 cup maple syrup (or a pinch or two of stevia)
* 1 tsp ground cinnamon
* 6 TBSP butter OR Coconut oil

Run topping quickly through food processor, adding sesame or poppy seeds if desired.

Toss all ingredients in the first section except maple syrup.  Turn fruit into greased pan, drizzle with syrup.
Put topping ingredients in food processor and whirl briefly (you want crumbs, not nut butter).  Sprinkle over pear mixture.
Bake as above.

Variation: add cranberries to the pears.  The little red jewels tucked amongst the pears look lusciously lovely.

Linked at Food Renegades Fight Back Friday

Linked at Health Food Lover’s Wholesome Foods

Linked at Vegetarian Foodie Friday

Linked at Momtrends Healthy THanksgiving Recipes

Linked at Grocery Cart Challenge’s Recipe Swap

LInked at Food on Fridays

Linked at EKat’s Kitchen

Posted in dessert, fruit | 7 Responses

Candied Orange Peel

Candied orange peel is delicious. I have never made it, but the Headmaster’s great grandmother used to make it for us, and we certainly ate it. Incidentally, she was in her 80’s, on a fixed income, lived in subsidized housing, and she could afford to make candied orange peel.
Here’s one recipe I found here:
Candied Orange Peel

For baking or nibbling

3 cups orange or grapefruit peels ( I think lemon peel would be good too)
12 cups cold water, divided
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, (first amount)
1/2 cup honey
1 3/4 cups boiling water
1/3 cup granulated sugar (second amount)

Use 3 large oranges (3 1/4″ diameter) if you use medium size you may require 5 or 6 oranges. Wash oranges. With sharp pointed knife score skin into quarters. With your fingers remove peel. Do not scrape off white pith. On a board cut crosswise ( so strips are shorter) into 1/4″ wide strips. Measure 3 cups fairly firmly packed. Tip peel into a large pot. Add 6 cups of the cold water. Bring to a boil and boil uncovered 10 minutes. Drain through colander. Add another 6 cups of cold water, bring to a boil and boil again for 10 minutes. Drain through colander. ( This double boiling is to remove the bitter taste of the skins )
In a very large pot stir together the 2 1/2 cups sugar, honey and boiling water until sugar dissolves. Boil 1 minute. Add drained orange rind. Boil gently and steadily 65 minutes stirring frequently until peel is clear and syrup reduced to 1 cup.
Drain through colander over bowl about 10 minutes. In a dry large bowl sprinkle 1/3 cup sugar over peel and toss with fork until all pieces are coated. Spread out in single layer on wax paper to dry about 12 hours. Store in tightly covered containers.
NOTE: Leftover daily orange and grapefruit skins (or lemon) may be freezer-wrapped and frozen until you have accumulated enough for this batch.
Serve as a confection.
Chop into 1/4″ or smaller pieces for your baking needs. Note from DHM: In my most frugal of days I would have reused that drained water somehow. It probably would have gone to moisten the compost pile, to freshen up the bathroom (in a squirt bottle with a few drops of dish soap for cleaning, or to water plants, although I am not sure how healthy that would be for the plants.

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