This was the very first Budget Bytes recipe experiment. After scouring the internet for recipes, I came across the recipe for Spicy Red Lentil and Tomato Soup by Andrea Meyers, and it caught my curiosity. I altered the spices slightly in 2009, and then the spice levels were increased to give more heft this next time. I also decreased the amount of liquid in the 2015 version as I wanted the Mexican Red Lentil stew to become less soupy as well as more like a stew. The result is approximately 11 cups of delicious stew that is with a rich texture, color, and vibrant taste.


2 cups of dry red lentils ($3.46*)

1 Tbsp olive oil($0.16)

One medium onion ($0.37)

3-4 stalks of celery ($0.79)

Four cloves of garlic ($0.32)

2 14.5 cans of 14.5 oz diced tomatoes roasted on fire($2.38)

1/2 Tbsp chili powder ($0.15)

One teaspoon cumin ($0.10)

1/2 tsp of turmeric ($0.05)

4 cups vegetable broth ($0.52**)

10-15 dashes hot sauce ($0.15)

One medium lime ($0.39)

1/2 bunch cilantro ($0.50)


Add the dry lentils in a medium-sized pot. Cover the pot with water, then splash to rinse, and take as much of the water out as you can. Repeat the process until the water is clear. After removing the final rinse and adding 4 cups of water, put a lid on top, then bring it to the point of boiling over high temperatures. When it is at a point of boiling, please turn off the heat and allow it to sit with the lid closed for around 20 minutes.

While the lentils cook, you can begin the remainder portion of the stew. Slice the onion into pieces and chop the garlic. Cook the two in a big saucepan with olive oil on medium-low heat until the onion is soft and translucent.

While the garlic and onions cook, wash and cut the celery. Incorporate the chopped celery back into the pot and allow it to cook for a couple of minutes or until the celery starts to become soft.

Add chopped tomatoes (with juices), Chili powder, turmeric, and cumin, along with hot sauce, to the hot sauce. Stir until the ingredients are well combined.

The lentils should have finished cooking by now. Take as much cooking liquid as you can and then add the lentils back to the pot, along with the broth for vegetables. Stir until the lentils are well-integrated, then let the soup simmer on a medium-low heat for approximately 15 minutes. The lentils will soften and disintegrate further while simmering and help increase the thickness of the stew.

The cilantro leaves are removed from their stems give,e a rough chop, and then mixed in the broth. Squeeze the lime juice into the broth and stir to combine. Check the stew for taste and alter the hot sauce or salt as needed.

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