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Wallet-friendly Potato Bacon Soup

When planning to participate in the Live Below The Line Challenge, I thought long and hard about what kinds of things I both wanted to make and eat. Planning a five day menu for seven people on $1.75 per person, per day is very difficult, which is why this helps raise awareness of how tough it is to eat properly on a tiny budget and why malnutrition below the poverty line is such a pressing issue.

Happily, though, I already knew I had a few recipes that I could create for Team Devour & Conquer Poverty that would be healthy, hearty and most importantly CHEAP! The following recipe comes in at a very affordable $2.84 total if you follow it exactly and makes 10 full soup bowls, meaning this eye-catching, filling dish is only .28 cents a portion (the exact price breakdown is listed in the ingredients). I hope you give it a try, your wallet and your taste buds should both be happy you did.

Notes on ingredients

This recipe calls for my Practically Free Vegetable Stock, made from left-over veggie bits and pieces. If you can't make your own stock, use store-bought chicken stock or chicken bouillon - giving you a per portion price of .38 cents. The recipe also calls for fresh thyme and chives - use dried if you don't have fresh on hand, or omit.

Note about Bacon Ends

This recipe calls for 'bacon ends' - a secret cheap grocery find that many people don't know about. These are small, misshapen chunks of bacon left over after all the long, perfect slices have been cut. Grocery stores sell them off very cheaply, they're usually located in the discounted meat area, or ask your butcher if he/she has any on hand.

The entire bowl of black forest bacon in the picture above was a measly $2.00 and weighed more than a package of bacon, a huge savings. Despite their somewhat unattractive appearance, bacon ends are still the delicious bacon you love, and they cube, brown and crisp beautifully to garnish and flavour your soup. You can substitute two slices of regular bacon in place of the bacon ends in the recipe.

To learn more about the Live Below The Line Challenge, visit their website here.

If you're feeling the love and would like to sponser our team during the challenge with a donation to Make Poverty History, visit our team page here.

Wallet-Friendly Potato Bacon Soup


1 yellow onion (.28 cents)

2 celery stalks (.20 cents)

2 carrots, peeled (.20 cents)

2 large Russet potatoes, unpeeled (more flavour, texture and nutrients in your soup) (.50 cents)

2 garlic cloves (.4 cents)

1 inch chunk of bacon end or 2 slices of bacon, chopped into pea-sized pieces (.40 cents)

1 litre of Practically Free Vegetable Stock or store-bought veg/chicken stock (free or $1)

1 litre of water

1 can of evaporated milk ($1.18)

2 sprigs fresh thyme or 2 tsp dried

2 tsp fresh or dried chives

salt and pepper (.4 cents for herbs & seasonings)


Begin by prepping your vegetables - chop the potatoes, celery and carrots into bite-sized piece and set aside, then fine chop the onion and garlic.

Start crisping the bacon on medium-low heat in a large soup pot, leaving the lid on for the first few minutes to help render down the fat, then cook with lid off until the bacon is brown and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and place aside on a paper towel. Drain some of the bacon drippings away if there's an excess, but leave at least 2 tablespoons-worth in the pot to cook your vegetables.

Saute the chopped onions, celery, carrot and garlic in the bacon drippings on medium until onions are translucent.

Add the potatoes, stock and water to the pot, along with a dash of salt and pepper and the thyme. Turn up to high heat and bring to a boil, then turn down to medium low and simmer until potatoes are tender.

If you'd like a thicker soup, this is the time to use a potato masher or hand blender to puree some the soup a little, still leaving lots of big, hearty chunks. The pureeing will help thicken the soup without flour or corn starch. It won't be 'stand your spoon up' thick, but will have more substance. If you like a thinner, broth-ier soup, leave as is.

Add the can of condensed milk and heat on low for 5 minutes (make sure it doesn't boil).

Garnish with the crispy bacon and chives and serve hot.

Devour happily at the bargain price of .28 cents a serving.

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As a fellow member of your group for this challenge I would just like to say how absolutely YUMMY this soup is to boot!! My 11 year old daughter LOVED it too!