Simple affordable healthy food in Belgium: vegetable soups

In all food financial discussion is mentioned that Belgium is an expensive country and we cannot find affordable food.

We adapted to local sources and started to cook a basic simple cheap dish: vegetable soup. Soup is great for Belgium weather (9 from 12 months are rainy and cold) so having a soup is a basic solution for me to warm my soul and body and not diminish the wallet and most important to not have the question: “mom, what do we eat today??”.

In soups I hide and bring a plenty of veggies for my family. Regularly my husband avoids almost all cooked vegetables, but he doesn’t know what is in the soup as I use it as an opportunity to cash in on nature’s offers and local unappreciated vegetables (pumpkins, root celery, parsnip root, nettles etc)
Soup is great to save time as I cook once, eat twice. Specially the last year with teleworking I started to spend too much time in the kitchen.
Soups are rich on vitamins and minerals and fibers, and low in fats and calories. Even the C vitamin is destroyed by cooking, some vegetables needs very little time for cooking and adding extra herbs will improve it, but there are a plenty of other vitamins that are thermal survivors (A, B, beta-carotene ,iron etc) but  help to stay hydrated too, and  reduce hunger and increase fullness.
Soups are easy to make, not need strict recipes and we can make it with what we find on the market. Adding 2 extra carrots and one red pepper can change the taste from one soup to another, and if we don’t have it we can make a soup.
Soups can be a lunch or a dinner, even can be take away.
Add condiments for health and flavors: garlic, onions, ginger, curcuma, parsley, dill, bay leaves, basil, chives etc all are famous for the healthy effect and we can play with these to give a nice flavor. More, these condiments I can grow in pots on my balcony so are for free.
Vegetables are cheap. 1-1.5 euro /kg – and I can make dishes with costs under 1 euro /dish.

When I don’t have any idea what to cook, I look on PINTEREST to inspire and choose what soup I can make with existing ingredients and this is how I have a soup for a half of the week.

So what ingredients are cheap in Brussels and I use often for soups? Leek, pumpkins, root celery, parsnip root, potatoes, carrots, onions, cauliflower, red beetroots, cabbages, beans (beans, lentils and chickpeas – I buy dried and boil in advance and freeze) , etc – these are weekly on my shopping list, 4-7 kg of all. 10euro for vegetables and to eat a a half of the week for all the family. Who said we have to be rich to eat healthy?

What I love is to add, on my dish, after cooking, 1-2 spoons of raw olive oil (nice to have a Greek friend) or a big spoon of fat yogurt or heavy cream, dried cheese or dried bread, any condiments freshly cut from a pot.

Basil – all the year

I handle often to kill my plants. I am not expert on gardening but perseverance is my quality. Finally I found how to propagate and harvest basil all the year.

Basil is growing great in pots and on balcony or in the kitchen, a plant very suitable for a town lifestyle. Just a small particularity: the life cycle is very short. That’s mean after going to blossom and seeds is dying. Well, I don” like this, I love to cook salads with basil so I need it daily and fresh and cheap, of course.

Most common is to buy seeds and plant again and again, as we can harvest in 2-3 months. A simpler and faster solution is to propagate basil from old plant. How? just cut the steam. Remove alllmost all the leaves (as for cooking) but keep 4 the smallest from top. Try to have a quality steam and put in water. In several weeks it will have roots and is a proper time to plant. I did this will plants bought/ received as a gift. Organic is better, of course.

Tomatoes season is now: freeze

I think almost of people loves tomatoes. But not all the people knows the season of tomatoes is quite short, around 6-8 weeks per year. Thanks to the evolution and industry we can find tomatoes all the year, produced in glasshouses in Holland or Spain or South Africa, but there is a lot of pollution and plastic used because of the production and transport.

As I propose myself to eat more what is specific in season and more local, I try to eat maximum tomatoes now and to preserve for several weeks of winter.

In fact, for Belgium, this summer was extraordinary hot and tomatoes were in blossom. Not happening often – even in my garden I produced a lot –and still a lot of small green one. So why not to use this chance?


Last weekend I bought tomatoes from a local producer ( ) – and I think it is their neighbour that is producing and 5 epines sells 🙂 . With 3 euro/kg I bought great tomatoes so next weekend I plan to buy again, a bigger quantity, to prepare for winter.

What I will do?


Tomatoes sauce – one cook and eat 10 times -isn’t that great for lazy people like me?

Well, I buy tomatoes, of course. Usually I negotiate the price for big quantities but not with the producers 🙂 . I will go Saturday at the Clemenceau market directly to Sebastien, the farmer from 5 epignes (the place is somewhere at the end, behind the meat covered place) and  I will choose the well red tomatoes, even there are a little broken – this is because of too much rain or too much gravity 🙂 – just to be well mature. Wash, put in boiling water for 2 min to easy peel  and then cut in several pieces and boil for 30-40 min. I add flavours, of course: onion and garlic, thyme and basil (from my balcony). Quantities: for 5 kg of tomatoes, half of kg of onions, several garlic cloves, 1 table spoon of thyme, a hand of basil. No salt – I want to freeze it. I let to stay for 2-3 hours then to split in plastic ice cream boxes (saved) and freeze it – 10 bags. In November-> January will be a perfect fast pasta sauce for 10 weeks.
Time consuming? Yep. Shopping time, 1 hour to peel and cut tomatoes in pieces and boil. In same time is boiling I clean the onions and garlic – and cut in several pieces and add with the tomatoes. After 15-20 min of boiling together with the vertical mixer I will mix well the tomatoes and all the other ingredients and let to boil more several minutes. Put in boxes and freeze. Yep, 1 hour in the kitchen, less than 20 euro spend but I will eat 10 times a quality sauce without anymore effort.

Freeze Basil for Make Pesto Starters

I know, fresh basil is available for purchase year-round, but when you’re growing your own you want to preserve that unique, home-grown flavour perfectly. And why not, is for free! is there, just to know what and when to do it, 5 min effort.
We love pasta. We love pasta with Pesto. So I did it.

Basil cubes


– The most efficient way to freeze basil is by making basil cubes. I can add a green “bomb” in a soup, an last-minute aromatic punch. Simply chop basil in a food processor or with a knife and add enough oil or water to coat the leaves. You’re looking for the consistency of a thick paste. I am arriving for a three-to-one ratio of basil to oil. Spoon the herbal mixture into ice cube trays, freeze for one night, and then I transfer to a fabric freezer bag.
Pesto starters: to make pesto starters, the process is quite similar to making basil cubes. I combine equal parts chopped basil and parsley with enough olive oil to form a paste. No garlic because my husband hates but pine nuts are great. Freeze on cube sizes. Mix with cheese (parmigiana) after little defrost. I hope to find a parmigiana not too salty and to freeze within…

Harvesting cucumbers.

This should be simple – no mystery what is the cucumber and need to harvest.
But when I lost the seed package where is mention the dimension, I am admiring and meditating daily what is the story of my cucumbers?

If I wait too long, the skins get thicker and the seed cavities enlarge at the expense of the flesh of the cucumber. what is too mature?before they turn yellow/lighter!!. The green cucumber “yellow” -ed is more bitter, and have thicker peels.

So, when? : while the skins are tender. When is green. 8-10 days the fruit is visible. And big but not too big- to define.

Cucumber stems are tough so I harvest by cutting (scissor), not pulling from the vines, to avoid damaging the vines.


Pictures will come this evening 🙂

Reuse the dried bread

This summer is hot in Brussels, so hot that I started to eat less.
Because of my allergies, I reduced (almost completely cut) the consumption of of bread, but my husband still continues buying 1-2 breads weekly. So we have a lot of dried bread and I don’t want to throw it away.
usually I buy a bread and split in 3 fabric bags and freeze, but now the freezer is full of icecream, meat from the farm, and cheap cherry => no more room for the dried bread.

I asked my best friend google what to do with.
He answered with same friendship as usual and gave me plenty of ideas, and I saved here, to inspire me:

1. Freeze. Done. 2-3 hours before lunchtime to take it out.
2. in small pieces the dried bread is great in tomatoes soup. But how much tomatoes soup I could eat ??
3. Dry Bread Crumbs (add in a blender). To use for snitzel or meatballs. But I don’t cook any of these, no more frying for me for years.
4. croûtons à l’ail et au persil. Cut in small pieces. Add some garlic (very well cut) of for delicate princesses as I have in my family I mixed with dried rosemary/basilicum harvested from my balcony, 1-2 spoons of oliv oil (is great to have a Greek guy in the office), mix all for 1-2 min. and add in the hot oven for several minutes. I use these for soups, or in salads. Done. And redone. For the future I will try with paprika instead of flavours.
5. with milk and egg and fried. I mention here maybe will inspire even I am not cooking this: is it fried and not healthy (I am going old …).
6. Gâteau au chocolat. I have no quantities but I mixed with milk, a little sugar, cocoa and eggs. Add in the oven for 35-40 min in around 170grades.
7. Add some water (4-5 spoons and add in the oven for several minutes. I tried in a pan with a lid, and 2 min. on the fire it is enough.
8. poudding du pain (pain au chien). French recipe, check the quantities Or this -are si filmuletz. Not tested yet but perfect for a brunch or a lazy weekend.
9. feed the animals.  but do it in small quantities, is as bad for animals/birds as a macdonalt for humans.
10. do a fromage fondue and use the dried bread.
11. gateau alsacien:
12. porridge (mix half of dry bread with a half of the quantity of dried oat ) – nice and easy… 😀 – to do.
13. pizza dough. It is summer, I want a faster pizza with less energy conspution /less heat . I need to keep in the oven only for 10 min to have a nice crust of cheese. Perfect for Friday evening, to clean the fridge 🙂
14. pudding chocolat – mix dried breads with eggs, milk, cocoa an cu oua, lapte, cacao to have a soft almost liquid dough. Cook 40min.
15. pudding salé : 500 ml hot milk, (bones/vegetable stock is great, but remember from the begining of the article I have no more room in the freezer…), add the bread for 15min in the hot water (200gr bread). Add in a hot pan some vegetables ( leek, carrots, for 2-3 min) to soft. Mix the weat bread with under cooked vegetables, eggs, cheese, put in the oven for 30min medium-small fire, in a shape as pizza.
16. Pain de jambon: jambon, kaizer , several slices of dried bread put in milk, 2 eggs, garlic and noix de muscade. In the oven.
17. La Panzanella toscana. It is a kind of salad with dried bread.

More french recipes are here, I am too lazy to read all but let’s keep for the future

P.S. the bread shop close to my house is selling dried bread with a half of the price, occasionally. Just think about..