Category Archives: Soups

Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

I made this soup yesterday, but since we stayed for dinner at Faraz and Novairah’s last night, we had it tonight instead. And I was quite glad this evening that I had it in the fridge because Noor had a fever and a cough by the time we got back from Nice so a bowl of this was all she had for dinner.

This soup has what I think of as a “clean” taste since it has no spices or seasoning that would camouflage the flavors of the vegetables.

After I made a spiced sweet potato soup some days ago, I asked Jenny how she makes her version of this soup because I remembered that when we had it at her home once, the soup had a lovely orange color and the taste of the sweet potato stood out distinctly.

This is my variation of her recipe. I’ve added a clove of garlic and skipped the potato that she said she includes with the other vegetables.

Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

2 sweet potatoes ( about 300 grams) – peeled, washed and diced small

3 large carrots- peeled, washed and diced small

2 small onions, chopped

1 clove of garlic, chopped fine

salt to taste

3 tablespoons of olive oil

Warm the oil in a soup pot and add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook them on low heat  for a few minutes, without letting them brown or burn, till the onion begins to look translucent and a little soft. Now add the sweet potatoes and carrots, cover the pot again and cook till the vegetables begin to soften. Half-way through, mix in the salt to speed up the process.

Add water – enough to cover the vegetables plus some more – and continue to cook the vegetables, still covered, till they are completely soft.

Take the pot of the heat and when the contents have cooled a little, blend everything together to a smooth consistency. Thin the soup, if needed (though this soup  is nicer if it’s texture is a little thick), with some boiled water.

Beautiful color, packed with good taste – this is one of the nicest soups I know.

Spiced Sweet Potato Soup

Ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg meld beautifully with sweet potato here to create a delicious, warming taste and flavor.

As I wondered what to make for us to eat on the side with pizza yesterday evening, it occurred to me that it was time perhaps for this soup which I have read about often and eaten an excellent version of at Jenny’s once, but never made before. I do use sweet potato in soup, but so far it had only been one of the 3 or 4 vegetables – tomatoes always being one of them – that I combine in a soup.

Most of the recipes that I found online for this soup include ginger, garlic (one or both), onions or leeks, cinnamon and nutmeg among the ingredients. Many use carrots, some suggest celery.

Here’s my version.

The result was yummy, hearty, satisfying. Noor and Shri both said they liked the soup. He had a second helping; always a good sign (Indira was away at a sleepover/birthday party).

Spiced Sweet Potato Soup

3 sweet potatoes (350-450 grams) – peeled, washed and diced small

2 large carrots- peeled, washed and diced small (optional – I just happened to have about this quantity of carrots in the fridge, already grated, left over from the day before. Could be replaced with another sweet potato)

1 large onion, chopped

2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger

1/2 a teaspoon each of cinnamon powder and freshly grated nutmeg (or less of each for a milder flavor)

salt to taste

1 tablespoon of brown sugar

3 tablespoons of olive oil

Warm the oil in a soup pot and add the ginger. Fry for a few seconds, without letting it brown or burn. Add the onion, cover the pot and fry on low heat for a couple of minutes till the pieces begin to look translucent. Now add the sweet potatoes and carrots, cover the pot again and cook till the sweet potatoes are quite soft. Half-way through, mix in the spices and the sugar.

Add the salt, cook for another couple of minutes, then add water – enough to cover the vegetables plus some more and continue to cook the vegetables, still covered, till they are completely soft.

Take the pot of the heat and when the contents have cooled a little, blend everything together to a smooth consistency. Thin the soup, if needed (though this is one of those soups which is so much nicer if it’s eaten quite thick) with some boiled water.

To serve, une touche de crème, as the French say, is really a great touch. This is a filling soup, so it could be served with just some dark bread on the side as well.

Courgette Carrot and Coriander Soup

This was a first for me – soup without tomatoes.

I wanted to make tomato chutney for this evening’s meal to go with aloo tikkis, since Indira asked last night, while eating dinner, if there was any of this chutney left over from the last time we had it.

Noor, who has to miss school this week due to the chicken pox infection, offered promptly to be my assistante for the chutney as I mulled aloud this morning about the plan for tonight’s dinner, so that decided it. Soup, tikkis and tomato chutney – to be shortly made by Noor after Indira leaves for her solfège lesson – it is.

Since I wanted to avoid repeating the taste of tomatoes, I’ve made soup today for the first time without that vegetable.

The soup was already very nice before I added some cream – which gives it a lovely rich taste- so the healthier version doesn’t miss much. The coriander, though I added only a little since that’s all I had in the fridge, gives the soup a delicious flavor too.

Courgette Carrot and Coriander Soup

2 large courgettes, scrubbed thoroughly under water and then diced

4 large carrots, peeled and diced small

1-2 tablespoons (or  more) of chopped, fresh coriander, soft part of the stems included

1 leek, tough part removed and then chopped fine

1 large clove of garlic, peeled and chopped

3 tablespoons of olive oil

2 teaspoons (or less) of salt

3-4 tablespoons of liquid cream

Warm the olive oil in a soup pot on low heat and add the garlic and the leek. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes till the leek starts to look a little soft, taking care not to let the leek or the garlic brown. Add the carrots, cover again, and cook till the carrots start to soften a little. Add the courgette, cover the soup pot again, and cook till the carrots and the courgette are quite soft. Add salt and the coriander half-way through. Now add about 3 cups of water, and simmer the vegetables till they are very soft. Take the pot off the heat, allow the mixture to cool a little, then blend everything together with a hand blender. Stir in 3-4 tablespoons of cream and warm the soup again before serving.

Noor’s just tasted a spoonful and she says, “I love it because it’s the same as in school, even though this has more courgette I think”.

Now that’s a pleasing compliment, since both of them usually like all the soups they have in school.

Chicken and Vegetable Soup

I made this soup for the first time in Mumbai one day this year in August, when Ruhin had a very bad cold. All the children liked it enough that I made it a second time that week and the second version went down well with everyone too, with none of them noticing that I substituted pumpkin for carrots.

So today,since I had two pieces of chicken in the fridge to finish, I used them to cook this soup for dinner tonight, to go with penne al pesto.

I remember this recipe – more or less – from when Ma and Papa made this during winter sometimes, all those years ago in Bokaro, when b. and I were in school.

It makes for a hearty, flavorful bowl of soup on a rainly day or in the winter, and can be very restorative if one is feeling down on account of a cold or just low on energy.


Chicken and Vegetable Soup

2 legs of chicken, skinned

4 small carrots, peeled and diced in to half moons or rounds (or an equivalent amount of diced pumpkin)

200-250 grams (approx) of green beans, cut in to 1 inch pieces

2 medium sized potatoes(optional), peeled and diced (not too small; cut in to quarters lengthwise then cut each part in to three pieces)

1 large tomato, finely chopped

2 small onions or 1 medium sized onion, chopped but not too finely

1/2 a teaspoon each of grated  ginger and finely chopped garlic (or ginger and garlic pastes)

2 tablespoons of sunflower oil

2- pods of green or black cardamom, 4-5 cloves, 5-6 black peppercorns(this last is optional)

salt to taste

Wash the chicken. In a pressure cooker, warm the oil and put in the cardamom, peppercorns and cloves. When the aroma of these begins to be released, put in the onions and fry them for about a minute or till they are transclucent. If you are making this soup with potatoes as well, add these next and fry for 4-5 minutes. Otherwise add the chicken next , fry it for a minute or till it starts to change color, then add the carrots, cover the cooker and fry everything together for 7-8 minutes. Now put in the ginger and garlic, fry for half a minute, then add the beans and cook everything together again for 5-6 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the salt now, cook till the tomatoes are quite soft, then pour in about 300 ml of water and pressure cook the mixture on high heat for about 5 minutes (this will probably mean approximately 3-5 whistles from the cooker) or just long enough for the chicken and the vegetables – especially the carrots and potatoes- to be soft but not too mushy.

When the cooker is ready to be opened, lift the chicken pieces out of the soup, take the flesh off the bone with a knife and a fork, shred and mix back in to the soup.

A meal in itself, especially if it’s been cooked with potatoes, this soup for me is comfort in a bowl, just like varan.

Carrot and Coconut Soup

Well, what this really is, is a tomato and carrot soup with packaged coconut milk added in towards the end of the cooking process.

The result is a delicious variation on an otherwise regular sort of vegetable soup in our home.

The girls loved it when I served it for dinner yesterday, so I was glad for the impulse that had made me reach for the pack of coconut milk and pour it in while the soup simmered.

The following quantities made enough soup for two meals for the 4 of us.

2 thin (which is what I had in the fridge yesterday) or 1 thick leek

6-7 large tomatoes

7-8 carrots

3 garlic cloves

4 tablespoons of olive oil

salt to taste

one 200 ml pack of coconut milk

Clear-out-the-vegetable-basket Soup

I had a small chunk of pumpkin, two carrots, half a red bell pepper, a leek and five and a half tomatoes left over in the fridge from last week’s shopping at Carrefour.

So I have made soup for tonight’s dinner with all of that (and there will be enough left over for tomorrow as well, with these quantities) ,with the addition of fresh basil leaves that I went out and got this morning from the “Primeur de Fruits” in Tournamy.

The method  is the same as for the tomato and basil soup.

Pizza and soup with basil, anyone? That’ll be two “Oh Yay !!!”s for sure.

My Favorite Daal – Chana Daal with Lauki(Bottle Gourd) or Courgette

I tend to eat this daal (yellow split peas) from a bowl like one would eat soup, with a touch of  lime juice though it very nice with phulkas or paranthas too. It has a really  hearty taste and is quite filling.  My Ma usually tempers it with paanchphoran, which somehow suits this daal, IMO.

She often cooks it with bottle gourd (lauki) added to it, which I substitute with courgette since that Indian vegetable is not easy to find here.

And though I made it yesterday with the skin of the courgette peeled off, since the girls eat it more easily that way, it is probably better to retain the skin since that likely has a lot of nutrients.

I also usually make more of this daal than we need for one meal because the leftover portion, mixed with whole wheat flour, makes the dough for really soft and full-of-taste phulkas/paranthas the next day.

Chana Daal with Lauki or Courgette

1 cup of chana daal (yellow split pea lentils)

1 large or two small onions, chopped fine

1 medium sized or two small tomatoes, chopped fine

1/2  a teaspoon of grated ginger or ginger paste

1/2 a teaspoon (and perhaps a pinch more) of turmeric powder

1 courgette (300-400 grams), washed, peeled or preferably with the skin and diced in to chunks (neither too large nor too small)

salt (2 teaspoons or to taste)

2-3 tablespoons of sunflower oil

Also, ideally, 1 tablespoon of finely chopped coriander leaves

Soak the lentils for a couple of hours, then drain the water in which they were soaked and pressure cook with another three cups of water and salt till quite soft. This will probably need 6 to 8 whistles (if the pressure cooker is the Indian variety).

Remove the cooker off the hob and when all the steam has been released from the cooker, open the lid, stir the daal with a large spoon or ladle to break up the grains, then add the courgette and cook the mixture again -another couple of whistles should do it.

When the cooker is ready to be opened again add the turmeric and stir everything together gently so as not to smash the courgette pieces.

In the meanwhile, in a smaller frying pan, prepare the tadka. Heat the oil, then add paanchphoron.

As all the five spices of  paanchphoron begin to crackle, add the onions and fry till they are golden brown. Add the ginger paste/grated ginger next and fry for another 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes and fry till the oil starts to appear on the sides. Now add the chopped coriander and mix everything well before adding this tadka to the daal in the cooker.

If the daal seems too thick then add a little boiled water (and salt, if needed). To finish, simmer the daal for a few minutes so that the tadka blends in well.

Sweet Potato and Broccoli Soup

I am making this again for dinner tonight, as I find that sweet potato works well with broccoli.

The recipe is the same as for the pumpkin and broccoli soup. Just replace the pumpkin with 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped fine.

This is very nice too. I am going to make some simple scrambled eggs with this , the way I saw Nanda’s Ma make them once when Indira and I visited them in Amsterdam many years ago.

Tomato, Pumpkin & Broccoli Soup

When we arrived at our friend Jenny’s home for lunch one Sunday not long ago, I saw that she had made broccoli and Stilton cheese soup to serve as a first course to the parents.

It struck me then that all this time as I have tried to introduce broccoli to my family’s diet – unsuccessfully, as none of us have managed to develop a taste for it -I have never considered adding broccoli to soup. I usually just steam it to add to either salads or pasta and once in desperation even cooked it as a  subzi ( the way one makes cauliflower in India) after I ate it in this form at my sister-in-law’s home.  All those attempts having failed to endear this vegetable to us, I had resigned myself to the fact that this is one healthy vegetable our family would have to do without.

But soup with broccoli seemed like an intriguing new idea so I requested that Jenny serve some to the children too, as I wanted to see if my girls would take to this vegetable better in this form.

As it turned out, the girls didn’t exactly love it. They finished it mainly because I told them it would be impolite not to do so. But, significantly, they did not turn up their noses at it completely either, which encouraged me to think that I could probably get away with blending broccoli in to soup too, camouflaged among other vegetables.

So that is what I have done more than once since that Sunday, and the soup I made for dinner yesterday was the nicest of those recent attempts. The girls actually said that they liked it, until I spoilt it somewhat by telling them, feeling rather smug, that one of the vegetables in the soup was broccoli. Indira immediately started to look like she wasn’t pleased at being duped, and said,  “So that’s what those tiny green bits are !” in a somewhat vexed voice.

But I do believe they’ll eat it readily enough again;  they did like it sufficiently until the moment of truth.

The recipe is much the same as for Indira’s favorite vegetable soup, except that here I replace the red pepper with broccoli.

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Tomato,Pumpkin & Broccoli Soup

1/2 a small head of broccoli

about 200 gms of pumpkin

1 leek

2 pods of garlic

3 medium-sized tomatoes

3 tablespoons of olive oil

salt to taste (I add about 1 and 1/2 tsps)

Separate the broccoli’s florets, then cut these  in to smaller pieces.

Peel and dice the pumpkin.

Wash and chop the tomatoes.

Discard the hard part of the leek, and finely chop the rest, after washing it carefully. Chop the garlic too.

In a pressure-cooker, warm the oil on a low heat and then add the leek and garlic. Sweat these down gently for 4-5 minutes, making sure not to let them  brown or burn.

Next, add the pumpkin and the broccoli, cover the cooker, and cook everything together for some time, turning frequently, till the vegetables start to glisten and look soft. Then add the tomatoes  and cook till the tomatoes start to break down.

Add the salt, about 500ml of water, and pressure-cook the vegetables till they are quite soft.

Blend the mixture, adding some boiled water if the soup seems too thick.

Stir in a  little unrefined brown sugar ( I added about 1 1/2-2 tsps) if the soup tastes too tart on account of the tomatoes.

A little touch of cream in each bowl is nice, too.

A simple,mild Rasam

This home made answer to what restaurants call mulligatawny soup went down very well with our guests on Saturday.

Rasam

6 medium sized tomatoes( or 1 or 2 more, if you would like a more sour soup)

5 tbsp of arhar daal

½ tsp of grated ginger

½ tsp of mustard seeds

2 tbsp of ghee

½ tsp of turmeric

a pinch of asafetida

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tbsp of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

Soak the daal for 1-2 hours, then pressure cook it till it is very soft.

In a large casserole, warm the ghee, and add the mustard seeds. When these begin to crackle, add the curry leaves and the asafoetida. Fry these for just a few seconds, add the ginger, and fry till for a few seconds till it starts to turn a golden color. Now add the tomatoes and the turmeric, and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the salt and 2 cups of water next, and let the mixture come to a boil. Continue cooking for 7-8 minutes, mix in the daal, and simmer everything together for a further 10-12 minutes or until the soup has acquired the thickness/consistency you’d like. Stir in ½ the coriander and turn the heat off, keeping the rest to add a little to each bowl before you eat.

For a spicier flavour, grind pepper on to each portion. It definitely lifts the taste; gives it a great kick that goes well with the tanginess of the tomatoes.