Stretching our money as far as possible, while still eating well, can be difficult. Food just gets more and more expensive every day. But we don't have to cut corners to still be FI, eat some really great food and keep our health and finances in check. Soup is one of our favorite go-to options that meets all of our recipe requirements. Especially when it is cold outside!
In our house, we have five kids, so our food budget is a big part of our monthly expenses. However, we have been doing well over the past couple of years to keep the food and alcohol budget down to $800 a month. Of course, we would like to go lower than that and make an effort every month to go as low as possible.
Because of this, all of our favorite recipes are:
- Fairly quick
- Easy to make
- Nutrient Dense
- Budget Friendly
With that in mind, our creamy butternut squash soup with pomegranate and arugula is one of our favorite soups to make. And all but one of our kids will eat it, so it's a crowd pleaser!
What you’ll need for this recipe:
- 1 Whole Butternut Squash, peeled, de-seeded, large dice, rough chop
- 4 Shallots, large dice
- 4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
- 4 cups Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 3 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
- ½ tsp Salt
- ¼ tsp Smoked Paprika
- ¼ tsp Cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp Nutmeg
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 2 Tbsp Pomegranate Seeds to garnish, approximately
- ½ oz Arugula to garnish, approximately
1. Peel the butternut squash and chop into larger chunks.
2. Make sure to fully de-seed the squash, prior to use.
3. Dice the shallots and mince the garlic.
4. Put olive oil in a pan and heat to Medium heat.
5. Add shallots and ¼ tsp of salt to pan.
6. Sweat down for approximately 3 minutes. Don’t let the shallots to brown. Keep a good eye on their color.
7. Add roughly chopped butternut squash to pan with the shallots and garlic.
8. Cook for approximately 2-3 minutes.
9. Add the thyme, smoked paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, and remaining salt. Stir in thoroughly.
10. Add minced garlic and stir for 30 seconds on Medium heat, or until garlic is fragrant.
11. Add vegetable broth and bay leaves.
12. Turn heat up to High, in order to reach a boil.
13. Once boiling, reduce to Low heat and simmer for approximately 25 minutes, until squash is tender.
14. Remove thyme stems and bay leaves.
15. Pour soup into a blender or food processor. You may also use an immersion blender if you have one.
16. Blend until smooth.
17. Add extra salt and pepper to taste, if desired.
18. Pour into cups or bowls.
19. Garnish with Arugula and Pomegranate seeds.
20. Serve warm and enjoy!
Yield: 4 (bowl) – 8 (cup) Servings
Related: How To Find Cheap Produce
Soup Cost Breakdown
Overall, the soup only takes about 15 – 20 minutes of actual work between the prep time, cooking, blending and serving the dish. Of course, it seems longer than that because of the 25 minutes of simmer time. But that is the time we use to wash all of the dishes and get any other accompanied dishes made, so it is really not active cooking time. If you are only eating the soup, which can be pretty filling on its own, then you can use that time to read a book or work on your finances. The possibilities are endless!
But, while the soup doesn't really take that long to make, how does the cost per serving really shake out though?
Here is the breakdown per ingredient, so you can see for yourself just how cost effective this dish can be:
- 1 Whole Butternut Squash – $1.99 per squash
- 4 Shallots – $1.99 (per bag of 9)/9 = $.22 each x 4 = $.88
- 4 Cloves of Garlic – $.99 (3 bulbs per package)/3 = $.33 each/12 (cloves per bulb) = $.028 x 4 = $.11
- 4 cups Low Sodium Vegetable Broth – $1.99 per 4 cup container
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil – $6.99 (per 1 L bottle = 66 Tbsp)/66 = $.11 x 2 = $.22
- 3 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme – $1.69 (20 sprigs per package)/20 = $.085 each x 3 = $.25
- ½ tsp Salt – $1.49 (per 4.5 oz jar w/grinder)/ 135 (servings per jar, 1/8 tsp each) = $.01 x 4 = $.04
- ¼ tsp Smoked Paprika – $5.49 (per 1 oz jar)/40 (servings per jar, ¼ tsp each) = $.14
- ¼ tsp Cinnamon – 5.49 (per .8 oz jar)/36 (servings per jar, ¼ tsp each) = $.15
- 1/8 tsp Nutmeg – $4.29 (per 1 oz jar)/36 (servings per jar, ¼ tsp each) = $.12/2 = $.06
- 2 Bay Leaves – $2.95 (per ½ oz bag)/30 (per bag, approximately) = $.098 x 2 = $.20
- 2 Tbsp Pomegranate Seeds – $1.59 per whole pomegranate/16 = $.10 each x 2 = $.20
- ½ oz Arugula – $2.49 (7 oz package)/7 per oz = $.36/2 = $.18
Total Price: $6.41
Each Cup = $.80
Each Bowl = $1.60
Sourcing the ingredients can be the most difficult part of this whole recipe. They aren't ingredients that are difficult to find. But finding the best deals, to keep your grocery bill as low as possible, can be the hard part.
A good example of this is the butternut squash. We usually get it from Trader Joe's for $1.99 per squash, as noted. But, we have found it at Whole Foods for $4.99 a squash and Harris Teeter had it for $3.99 per squash. That is just plain old crazy talk! Obviously, we source it from Trader Joe's whenever we want butternut squash.
So figuring out the best places to source your ingredients can take some time. But once you know who has the best deals on what, then sourcing the ingredients gets easier and cheaper.
All of the ingredients we purchased for this recipe were bought at Trader Joe's, Lidl and Penzeys. When it comes to spices, Penzeys can be a little more expensive than what you can find at a store such as Trader Joe's.
But, they always have deals to get free spices if you spend $5 on anything. So we only go to replenish our spice stock when they are having a deal on something we use. Just an inside tip from us to you!
With this recipe you not only get to enjoy some great food, that doesn't take you very long to make, but you also get to stick within your FI lifestyle. I don't know about you, but I couldn't ask for anything better!
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