Soups are great mood-boosting food during winters, apart from being healthy. Sapna Sarfare speaks of broths that score on both points
Winter is a great season to go hopelessly mad over cosy sweaters, heavy food and just relax away to keep the chill away. While most of us are tempted to go for fried stuff, soups are an amazing treat to beat the chilly winters. Chefs know how to brew healthy yet tasty soups for winters.
Perfect for beating winter chill
Chef Saumendra Nath Mondal, Executive Chef, Hotel Howard Johnson Kolkata, calls piping hot soup during winters as refreshing, hearty, healthy and nourishing. “It gives requisite warmth & immunity for the season. That is why we call soups as perfect meal for beating the winter chill.”
Sanjay Mamgain, Corporate Executive Sous Chef, Lords Hotels & Resorts, speaks the obvious of soups & broths being traditionally taken as home remedies for varied illnesses. “Also, soups are known to stimulate the appetite. Most importantly soups are healthy & delicious.”
Chef Sanjay Dasari, Executive Chef, The Ashok, recalls, “Soup is a wonderful hydrator and gives the body much-needed liquid. Soup is also easy to digest, making it a great way to get valuable nutrients into your diet.”
Soups are a common food link in cultures all over the world. Chef Sanjay speaks of soups based on beetroot, carrot, mushroom, broccoli, corn and mixed vegetables. “Soups that are prepared using tuber vegetables as the primary ingredients enhanced with cinnamon and green cardamom keep the body warm. Other soups like Lemon Coriander Soup and Manchow Soup act as a medicine for cold and cough and fever. Soups with mushrooms provide vitamin B and vitamin D. Corn and baby corn based soups provide dietary fibre and are high in foliate. Wholesome soups made with vegetable stock provide proteins and minerals, and act in stimulating appetite.”
Chef Dasari speaks of slowing cooking soups with extract of veggies/meat. “They have high nutrients and are good for winters specially when they are with the addition of whole spices and ingredients which are hot in nature. In India soups are popular mainly in winters as most are hot in nature and very nutritive. In the North, Yakhni Shorba and Tamatar Ka Shorba are popular, while in South India, Rasam has been an everyday favourite. In north east region, people prefer to have thukpa as it’s a complete meal for them with both vegetables and meat chunks and very nutritious.”
Chef Saumendra recalls, “There are numerous soups perfect for winter like French onion soup, Thai Tom Yam Soup, Seafood Bouillabaisse, Mexican Torteilla soup, Pepper Rasam, Paya Shorba (Lamb Trotter’s Broth) and many others. Winter vegetables soups are also favourite whether fragrant clear or ever creamy chowder.”
Winter special ingredients
Each season brings in ingredients that make us quite able to beat the season’s bad things. Winter is no exception. Chef Dasari thinks of ginger, garlic, honey, nuts and cinnamon. “Other than these, whole grains, lean meats, chillies, oats, whole spices and sweet potatoes are also known to generate heat inside the body and help you feel warm within.”
Chef Saumendra reveals, “The ingredient which is freshly available and aromatic, may be winter vegetable greens like turnip, celery, carrot, broccoli, beetroot, etc and suits your appetite the most, must be the priority. It is always refreshing and healthy.”
Chef Sanjay speaks of ingredients like peppercorns, cinnamon, cumin, green cardamom, bay leaf, five spice, lemon leaves, and asafoetida as winter essentials.
Tip top tips
Chef Saumendra feels one should go for simple healthy ingredients. “Fresh & fragrant herbs which doesn’t dominate the main ingredients flavour always compliments the main body of the soup. Cook to perfection otherwise overcooking may produce different negative impact in a soup.”
Chef Sanjay suggests cooking soups on slow flame or via simmering. “The water content while preparing should be as per required yield of raw material used. In soups where tomatoes have to be added, always add them at the last minute or it may make other vegetables taste crunchy due to its acidic nature. Soup should be served piping hot and garnished only when is ready to be served.”
Chef Dasari starts by suggesting getting the right pot. “The long cooking time and low heat required to create a successful soup demand a heavy-bottomed soup pot. When a soup recipe calls for stock, make your own. With chunky vegetable soups, sometimes a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice into a pot of cooling soup is all it takes to brighten all the flavours.”
With soup suggestions by the bagful, let your winters be full of delicious and healthy soups.
CURRIED LENTIL SOUP WITH SHREDDED LAMB
Vegetable Oil – 1 tsp
Boneless Lamb Sirloin, shredded – 100 gms
Chopped Onion – 1 ½ Cups
Garlic Cloves, minced – 2
Ginger, minced & peeled – 1 tsp
Curry Powder – 1 tbsp
Water – 2 Cups
Tomatoes, diced – ½ Cup
Mix Boiled Lentils (Moong, Chana, & Green Moong Dal) – 1 Cup
Chickpea, boiled – ½ Cup
Green Chillies – 2-3 Pieces
Coriander Root – 20 gms
Cumin, roasted – 5 gms
Lemon Juice – 10 ml
Heat the oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper. Add to pot; sauté until brown, about 5 minutes. Add onion, garlic and ginger; sauté 5 minutes and then add diced tomatoes to it. Add curry powder; stir 30 seconds. Add water and bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until lamb and lentils are tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and roasted cumin and finish with a dash of lemon juice. Present it piping hot in a bowl with a sprig of fresh coriander leaf.
- Recipe by Chef Saumendra Nath Mondal, Executive Chef, Hotel Howard Johnson Kolkata
VEGETABLE CONSOMMÉ WITH VEGETABLE SAUSAGES
Leeks – 4 Nos.
Green Olive – 10 gms
Black Olive – 10 gms
Broccoli – 25 gms
Red & Yellow Pepper – 25 gms
Cottage Cheese – 25 gms
Carrot – 50 gms
Onion – 50 gms
Cauliflower – 50 gms
Celery – 50 gms
Lemongrass – 50 gms
Olive Oil – 20 ml
Black Pepper – 10 gms
Thyme – 5 gms
Parsley Stalks – 10 gms
Bay Leaves – 2
Salt & Pepper, as per taste
For vegetable sausage preparation, core the bottom part of the leeks with a knife to make shells for the sausage appearance. Finely chop the broccoli, green olive, black olive, cottage cheese and half of the carrots. Fill the chopped vegetables inside the leek shells and tie both ends using celery strings. Cut out excess sides. Steam the vegetables sausages inside a hot steamer for 2 minutes.
Now to prepare consommé, mince the carrots, celery, onion, cauliflower and the leftover leeks in a mincer. Put the minced vegetables mixture in a heavy bottom vessel and pour 1 litre water in it. Put bay leaf, black pepper, thyme, parsley stalks in muslin cloth and make pouch of it. Immerse this pouch in the minced vegetable mixture. Allow it simmer for 30 minutes. Pound lemongrass and add it to the vegetable mixture so as to form a raft. Gently remove the froth to get a clear liquid. Season it with salt and pepper.
For presentation, place the vegetable sausages in a bowl and pour the consommé over it, just enough to half immerse the sausages. Garnish with the blanched chopped vegetables and drizzle 1tsp. olive oil on top. Serve it hot.
- Recipe by Sanjay Mamgain, Corp. Exec. Sous Chef, Lords Hotels & Resorts
Ripe Tomatoes (Medium Sized) – 3
Crushed Garlic Cloves – 4 or 5
Dry Red Chillies – 2 to 4
Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
Chilly Powder – 1 tsp
Rasam Powder – 2 tbsp
Black Pepper Powder – ½ tsp
Asafoetida – 1/4 tsp
Curry Leaves, a few
Coriander Leaves, a few
Tamarind Extract / Paste – 1 tbsp
Oil – 2 tbsp
Mustard Seeds – ¼ tsp
Salt, as required
Water – 2 to 3 Cups
Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a deep pan and splutter mustard seeds. Reduce heat and add the dry red chillies and curry leaves. Sauté quickly for a few seconds. Add the chopped garlic and tomatoes and stir fry until the tomatoes are mashed and cooked. Reduce heat and add turmeric, chilly and rasam powders and stir fry for a minute. Throw in the cilantro to the pan. Mix the tamarind paste along with 2-3 cups of water and pour it to the pan. Add salt to taste. Simmer the rasam on medium-low heat for 8-10 mins and bring it to a slow boil. Finally remove from heat and sprinkle some pepper powder and asafoetida. Rasam powder is a mixture of coriander seeds, whole red chilly, cumin; fenugreek and asafoetida which are dry roasted and ground to a powder. It is readily available. Instead of using rasam powder, you can use a blend of the above.
- Recipe by Chef Sanjay Dasari, Executive Chef, The Ashok