Hawaiian-Style Lentil Soup with Seared Spam

This week we'll share a laughably cheap recipe with just a touch of Hawaii. And yep, you read the title of this post correctly: it's got Spam in it.

Interestingly, this recipe is laughably cheap to make everywhere BUT in Hawaii. But wherever you are, you'll find this recipe easy, hearty, filling, nutritious and delicious. Enjoy!

Hawaiian-Style Lentil Soup with Seared Spam

1 pound lentils
About 12-14 cups water
Olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 14.5 ounce can red beans or kidney beans, drained and rinsed, optional
1 can Spam, cut into smallish 1-2 inch pieces
A generous teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika
A generous teaspoon garlic powder (or 3 cloves garlic, minced)
Hot sauce, to taste
Salt/pepper to taste
3-4 small/medium carrots, peeled and sliced into nickels
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
Rice or brown rice

1) In a large soup pot combine lentils and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 60-90 minutes until lentils are done to your liking.

2) Meanwhile, in a separate large non-stick saucepan, heat a few Tablespoons of oil, then add the onions and cut-up Spam. Raise heat to high and saute until onions and Spam begin to brown and start to stick to the bottom of the pan (5-10 minutes, roughly). Reduce heat to medium, then add the garlic (or garlic powder), carrots, canned tomatoes, spices and hot sauce, and saute/simmer for another 7-10 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand until lentils are ready.

3) When lentils are done to your liking, add the veggies/Spam/spice mixture to the lentils, then deglaze the saucepan with an additional half cup of water. Add this deglazing liquid to the soup pot. Return lentils to a boil, remove from heat, and serve in bowls over rice or brown rice.

Serves 8-10.
Recipe Notes:
1) Creeped out by Spam? We were admittedly flummoxed at first by Hawaii's partly ironic love affair with Spam too (not to mention it's an obvious example of a second order food, a category of food we tend to avoid). If you can't bring yourself to include this very Hawaiian touch to this recipe, feel free to substitute 12-16 ounces of any other kind of meat (sausage, dark meat poultry, chopped ham or bacon, etc. would all work well in this recipe), or simply leave the meat out for an entirely vegan version.

2) Not as laughably cheap as I'd like: Here in Honolulu, where a pound of lentils costs more than double (and a can of black beans costs more than quadruple) what we'd pay back in our home state of New Jersey, this hearty soup isn't quite as laughably cheap as I'd like it to be. However, you can still make this entire pot of soup for about $12-13 (about $1.30-1.50 per serving) even here in Hawaii. It’s not quite the 60-70c per serving a pot of lentil soup might cost us back home but, still, it's miraculously less expensive and a whole lot more healthy than even the least expensive restaurants in Waikiki.

Read Next: The 25 Best Laughably Cheap Recipes at Casual Kitchen

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