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Monday 10 March 2008

Cooking and Eating for Postgrads: Winter Soup

You're poor. You're stressed for time. You need to be mentally alert and able to produce quality output. You need to be as healthy as possible. You food fuels all of that and actually makes up your physical matter. So to be at the top of your game, you need to eat right. This is the first of series gives you pointers for what to eat and how to cook it.

Because I never measure anything and I'm too lazy to start now, I'm going to give very approximate directions. But you've gotten this far in your education, so you're used to dealing with incomplete cues.

Winter Soup


  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Pan
  • Spoon

Food Items

  • Uncooked Rice
  • Dried, split lentils
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Herbs (Italian, Herbes de Provence, whatever)
  • Onion, or leek or other member of this family
  • Some root vegetable: like half a Swede, a couple of parsnips, half a celery root or some combination thereof.
  • 5 brussels sprouts or some broccoli
  • Vinegar (optional (I prefer apple cider vinegar because it's tasty and versatile))
  • Garlic clove (optional)
  • Half a dried pepper (optional)


Put 0.1 or 0.2 liters (0.5 - .075 cups) each of rice and lentils in the bottom of a pan. Or use more. Fill up the pan with cold water. Add a pinch of salt and a splash of olive oil (around a tablespoon (2 mL)). Put the pan on the stove on the lowest possible heat setting. Go away and do some work. You can do this for just 20 minutes, or much, much longer. It doesn't matter. When you think of it, come back to the kitchen.

Add a couple of teaspoons of your herbs. If you're going to add some dried pepper, cut it in half and shake the seeds out and throw away the seed. Drop it in. Cut up an onion or leek into small pieces that you would want to get in a bowl of soup. Add them to the pot. If you're adding garlic, do that now too.

Wash and peel your root vegetables. Cut them into little pieces and throw them in.

Wash your sprouts and and cut them into quarters. throw them into the pot.

If you want to add a splash of vinegar, do it.

When the brussel sprouts sort of start to look like they're blooming: the leaves are starting to separate a bit, your soup is probably done. Test a swede (or whatever root) to be certain. Also, add salt if you need it.

Hopefully, you've made more than you need to eat in a single night. After you eat as much as you want, stick the rest in the fridge and reheat it tomorrow. You can add more brussels sprouts the next day to keep the vegetable count high.

You've just gotten

You've got fibre and protein from the beans and rice. Omega 3 and 6 from the olive oil. A large portion of your 5-a-day from the veggies. The brussels sprouts, in particular, have a bunch of vitamins and prevent some cancers. I'm too lazy to calculate the cost for this meal, but it's really economical: you get what you need for a good price. All of the vegetables are in season right now.

Basic Staples

What are non-perishable items that you'll be using a lot of? Olive oil, salt (sea salt if you can afford it), herbs as used above, curry powder, dried rice, dried lentils.

You can almost live off nothing but those staples mixed with vegetables. Beans and rice together form a complete protein, which means that it's just as good as the protein you get from meat or dairy, but much, much cheaper. I'm fond of lentils because they cook very quickly. Other beans also have protein.

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