Last night I attended a showing of an extremely touching documentary called A Place at the Table that highlighted hunger and poverty in America. The film focused a lot of attention on children and how the innutritious meals available in food desserts affected not only their stomach growls, but also their development, performance in school, and mood. How are you supposed to pay attention through an entire day of lessons after skipping breakfast and having Cup of Noodles for both lunch and dinner?
Many of the people highlighted in the film relied on food stamps and food pantries to obtain the food the fed to their families. Little corner groceries may have fruits and vegetables, but they are often old and unappetizing.
I wanted to try and make a recipe that could be constructed with food that could most likely be found in these areas that is also relatively cheap, and most important nutritional. So I just threw some stuff together and here is what I came out with.
Cheap and Easy Fall Pumpkin Soup
Makes around 4 servings
- 1 can of pumpkin puree
- 1 can succotash
- 1 white onion
- 2 gloves of garlic
- 2 white potatoes
- 1 1/2 cans of water
- sprinkle of ginger
- sprinkle of parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 stalks of kale
- around 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Skin and dice 2 medium sized white potatoes (any kind would work)
- Boil potatoes in water until soft
- Cut off stems and add in the 2 stalks of kale to the boiling water to soften (optional)
- Dice one onion and 2 gloves of garlic
- Pour a few drops of olive oil in a frying pan and sauté onions and garlic until browned
- Drain potatoes
- Empty can of pumpkin puree into large sauce pan
- Fill up the empty can of pumpkin puree with water and pour in with the pumpkin 1 and a half times (1 1/2 cans full) and stir
- Put cooked potatoes into the pumpkin and water mix
- Open can of succotash, drain, and add to the mixture
- Sprinkle in ginger, parsley, and salt to taste
- Add around a half a tablespoon of olive oil
- Place two bay leaves on top and let simmer
In total this recipe will make around 2,032 grams of soup. I used CRON-O-meter, an online tool to find the nutritional value of food, to figure out the micros and macros of the recipe. If you were to split the soup into 4 servings of around 508 grams, the nutritional content would be as follows.
Here is a more simplified nutritional label also from CRON-O-meter
I went to Weis’s website and shopped for the ingredients. They would cost around $17.26 in total. Note that the more expensive foods such as olive oil and spices would only have to be purchased once. They could also me emitted or substituted for a cheaper counterpart.
Evaluating this recipe has made me even more aware of the problem food insecurity is. Although the ingredients in the soup are quite filling, and you could very well up the serving size or have it with a few pieces of toast, $17.26 is still a pretty high grocery bill for someone relying on food stamps or a low wage to feed an entire family.
Onions, garlic, and potatoes are generally cheap vegetables that have a long shelf life. These would have a higher chance of appearing on the shelf in a food dessert and are affordable and nutritious.
The kale that I used was grown in my garden. If we became really proactive, gardening classes and community gardens could show those living with hunger how to easily and cheaply grow food to help sustain themselves.
I was being optimistic in thinking that food pantries would have many of the items on the ingredients list. I also tried to use items that could be easily substituted. For example, succotash could be replaced with virtually any canned or frozen vegetable. Olive oil could be emitted or substituted for butter, margarine, or vegetable oil. All of spices are just for taste and could be taken out sacrificing some flavor.
To educate yourself more on the affects of food insecurity in America, watch the documentary A Place at the Table: