the great pumpkin soup

Some frugality tips from the old man

“I make bread in a sleeping bag. It is one of the many things that I do to save money whilst eating well.

I have been unemployed for a long time, and my income is very small. There have been weeks  when I have had to survive on just ten dollars for food.

To make ends meet I have worked out how to cook and eat on a very small budget and I am sharing my tips with you. I am not a vegetarian by philosophical principle but by economic  necessity.

Firstly, if possible you should grow as much food as you can. You will always find space somewhere to grow food; even on a balcony.

If you can find a few square feet you should grow pumpkins. I prefer the “Grey”variety because it is tasty, easy to peel and generous. One of my “Grey”s this year weighed 5kg.

During winter, if you don’t particularly like silver beet for greens then try growing “brassica rapa” which is a member of the broccoli family. The leaves are light textured and the plant is prolific and easy to grow.

Now to the cooking:

I make my own bread by the traditional hand kneading technique. I buy flour at the supermarket so I am paying a commercial price, but a 500g loaf still only costs about $1.40. The further saving is that because the bread is so hearty it is very filling and will last 3 or 4 days with a degree of freshness.

In winter I prepare the dough and place it under a sleeping bag to rise. I have no heating in my house (another saving) and so the sleeping bag provides the desired temperature for the bread.

Rice is a staple in my diet. I can buy 5kg of rice in the supermarket for $6 and this will give me 100 meals at 6 cents a meal. (50g or ½ cup of rice is sufficient for a single serve).

For breakfast I either have toasted home-made bread with home-made marmalade, or I will have breakfast a la russkii.

On one of my trips to Russia and Ukraine years ago I fell in love with their pirozhki, and blini. It is the blini that I have mastered and enjoy for a really cheap brekky.

Blini is a pancake made of 2 ½ spoons flour, 1 egg substitute, half a cup of soy milk and some seasoning. You fry it in a small frying pan and this mix will give you two 7 inch diameter blinii.

I then make a mix of fried onion, garlic, capsicum, and any greens from the garden such as brassica rapa, and mix into it a spoon of soy mayonnaise. This goes into the blini which is then folded over and voila.

There are lots of great recipes for pumpkin soup, and the great thing about pumpkin is that it is so cheap. In my local store a kg of pumpkin is about $2 and I get at least 3 soups out of it. Or I will bake the pumpkin and some capsicum, mix it with some spices and add it to the rice for another cheap dish.

Finally, there is a superb soup to be made from the weeds in your garden. Stinging nettle soup is the tastiest soup in my diet. You collect a bowl of the tops of stinging nettles, a chopped up carrot, half a swede or turnip, an onion and you boil them in 500 ml of water or vegetable stock. (I have kohl rabi growing in my garden so I substitute that for the swedes and turnips. Kohl rabi is a much under appreciated vegetable).

Put the soup through a food processor if you can afford the electricity, thicken it with flour and add coconut cream to enhance the texture and taste.

Not one of these meals costs more than $2/per serve and most of them cost less than a dollar. Who says that vegetarianism is expensive.”