Advertisement

Make your soups more scrumptious and soulful with these simple tips and tricks

Be it a chilly winter morning or a lazy afternoon in the rainy days, a hot bowl of soup is the go-to comfort food that satiates hunger and makes you feel full. Here are some secrets that can help you make delicious soups in monsoon

Simona Terron | Updated on: Sunday, June 20, 2021, 02:12 PM IST

Advertisement

The rainy season brings an anticipated relief after the scorching summer has seared our skin and sanity. Once the initial obsession with revelling in the petrichor (aroma of wet mud) and being a pluviophile (someone who loves the rains) has faded though, we are often beset with an increasing number of cases of coughs, colds, sore throats and sniffles.

Hugs in a bowl

Soups can be a fantastic way to keep these ailments at bay, provide warm comfort and fortify our immune systems. They’re also an excellent delivery vehicle to help intake plenty of nourishment with minimal effort.

Since we’re focused on only hot soups, you can say there are roughly two kinds of soups, clear and thick. Under those two categories you have further sub-divisions:

Clear soups can be divided into either broths or consommés. Thick soups can be creamy soups like pureed vegetable soups such as tomato, pumpkin and spinach, which are finished with cream. They can also be chunky soups like chowders, or noodle and wonton soups. Either way, a simple way to ensure your soups are always a hit, no matter which kind you make, is to start with a foundation of good quality stock.

Soup secrets

It’s all about the base: To create a delicious stock that will make any soup you fashion with it, a knockout, simply throw in the vegetable scraps you have, leftovers from your salads, sabzis and pulaos, along with a large, roughly chopped onion (you can even add the skin), large potato quartered, and a couple of bay leaves, garlic cloves, ginger pieces and whole peppercorns.

You can customise this to your preference as you boil the lot in 2 litres of water. If you are a non-vegetarian, you can buy bones (beef or chicken work well) and chicken skin to add a depth of flavour and loads of goodness that come from the fat and marrow locked in them.

Strain this, compost the debris and use the broth as your base. This can be frozen for up to six months.

Advertisement

Pantry staples make great add-ons: Having a can of beans, coconut milk, fresh cream, pickled onions, packets of dried mushrooms, or even different kinds of noodles and pasta, especially tiny alphabet past a, all can be used to bulk up a soup and add more flavour. You might want to consider having frozen wontons, smoked or plain sausages, small meatballs, stuffed pasta like ravioli or even some tofu to transform a bowl of soup into a fulfilling meal.

Fresh and other toppings: Soups can be a bit blah to look at so why not make them more attractive with garnishes? While sprigs of fresh herbs are a standard go-to, try and experiment with the different textures and flavours that get added by using fried onions, toasted garlic chips or roasted garlic granules, or skinny matchsticks of fresh ginger.

Advertisement

You can add a soft-boiled egg, crunchy fried noodles, toasted seeds such as black or white sesame, pumpkin, watermelon or sunflower. Infusions such as chilly oil, garlic oil, prawn head oil, and different vinegars can be swirled in before serving.

Accompaniments: More often than not, all that slurping of soup gets tedious so why not serve it with some crunchy home fries o r a green leafy salad? Gooey grilled cheese sandwiches, a sesame-flecked prawn or chicken-mince topped open toast or even a stuffed quesadilla provide some much-needed solids to contrast with the liquid soup. Breadsticks are a classic, so are grissini and pretzels, much loved for their crunch factor. Croutons can brighten up even the simplest of soups and are easy to make.

Monsoon Soup Recipe (Serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 1 small bunch of coriander leaves, stems minced and leaves chopped, separately

  • 3 green chillies, slit and deseeded

  • 1 inch ginger, cut into strips

  • 1 litre soup stock

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed

  • 1 heaped tsp black pepper, cracked

  • 1 tsp turmeric powder

  • Sea salt to taste

Method:

Boil the stock, with the salt, pepper, turmeric, coriander stems and ginger till it reduces by 20% to 30%.

Add the chillies and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, wait a couple of minutes before you add the coriander leaves and lemon juice. Any sooner and the leaves will wilt, while the lemon will turn the soup bitter.

You can add any protein or vegetables to this soup to customize it to your preferences. What works well: Diced cabbage, green peppers, diced or shredded carrots, thinly diagonally sliced green beans, tiny cauliflower or broccoli florets, spinach, sweet corn, bean sprouts and even cooked rice/noodles/pasta, or boiled chickpeas or lentils.

Go strong on the ginger and pepper for max effectiveness. It literally warms you up from the inside and both are wonderful for improving immunity.

And please use the freshest coriander/cilantro because the stems are 90% of the flavour. Bash the stems very lightly before boiling. You can even add lemon grass, which also behaves better after a light bashing. Kafir lime leaves, leeks and turnips work great for smoky depth. And minced spring onion greens for garnish.

Advertisement

(Simona Terron is a Freelance writer and podcaster with over two decades of media experience, she runs a home kitchen in Mumbai on the weekends and is on IG (instagram.com/TheHeartChef/) and FB (https://www.facebook.com/theheartchef/)

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Published on: Sunday, June 20, 2021, 02:12 PM IST