A steaming bowl of that healthy broth

LIVING IN THE KITCHEN

Soup lover Sangeeta Sen, turns nostalgic with a few recipes of this watery dish that provides more than just flavour.


It is believed that a soup kettle on the fire sings of a prelude to the goodness  to come. Interestingly, a look at old   records reveal that a piping-hot bowl of  soup has been the perfect choice for promoting good health in different cultures  since time immemorial.

In fact, it was a case of fond memories  about this age-old soup culture coming  alive, when I saw my Grandma preparing  the famous mulligatawny soup. “For almost everybody living and working during  the time of the British Raj, this soup made  the perfect healthy meal,” she told me.

Recent research experiments back her  observations. High levels of carbohydrates  and amino acids in potatoes and lentils (masur dal) of this soup provide us with  energy. The tamarind, carrots and apples are powerful anti-oxidants; while the garlic, ginger and the onions are anti-inflammatory ingredients. The Vitamins C and A in  black pepper and lemon juice alleviate  common cold. The spices, garam masala, cumin and coriander powder help in digestion. Then, the spice turmeric prevents  cancerous growths.

As a result of sharing essential tips with  my grandmother, I learnt that this healthy soup requires 100 grams of masur dal, rinsed and drained; a potato, carrot and  apple, diced, a chopped onion, 3 chopped  garlic cloves, a tablespoon of grated ginger, a teaspoon of black pepper; a tablespoon of tamarind paste and lemon juice, a teaspoon of turmeric, cumin, coriander powder,  garam masala and 2 cups of vegetable broth.

All you need to do is fry the onions, ginger and garlic in vegetable oil. Add the  spices, carrot, apple, potato cubes, masur  dal, vegetable broth, black pepper and  salt. Stir and cook till the dal and vegetables turn soft. Blend this mixture to a  paste  and place it  in  a pan over a low heat. Add  tamarind paste and lemon juice. Mix well  and serve.

Other ancient healthy soups too have  become popular. Take for example, the  ancient Provençal aigo boulido, or the  garlic soup. In fact, high levels of Vitamin  B6 and allicin in this soup boost the immune system. Also, the soup cures high blood pressure problems.

Preparation requires 4 garlic cloves, sliced, 1½ cups of water and a beaten egg  yolk. In a pan, boil the garlic cloves in water  until they are soft and set them aside. Strain the garlic, mash them to a paste  and add to the pan again. Add the beaten  egg yolk and simmer until thin strands  form. Add some black pepper and salt. Ladle this garlic soup over some toasted  bread slices in bowls.

There’s the  ancient Mediterranean pea  soup — rich in proteins, Vitamins B and K as well as minerals, iron and manganese.

Preparation needs 1 ½ cups of peas, 2 cups of chicken stock, 1 chopped spring  onion and 2 garlic cloves, minced.  

In a pan, stir-fry the spring onion and  the garlic in olive oil. Add the peas and  chicken stock. Simmer. Blend the prepared soup finely (in small batches) and serve.

Another soup is the carbohydrate-rich minestrone soup that was consumed by  the Roman  army during the 16th century. In fact, this soup helps body muscles and  nerves to work properly.

Traditionally, preparation requires a potato, cut into cubes, 2 chopped carrots  and  celery  stalks, 200 grams of spinach, sliced, ¼ portion of cabbage, shredded, 1 ridge gourd, quartered and diced, a cup of peas, 1½ cups of vegetable broth, a cup of diced tomatoes, 1 chopped onion, 1 minced garlic, 100 grams of boiled rajma and 50 grams of boiled small macaroni pasta.

In a pan, stir-fry in olive oil, the garlic  cloves, the onions, carrots, spinach, ridge  gourd, the celery and peas. Add the diced tomatoes, potato cubes, the shredded cabbage, rajma, pasta, some salt and vegetable stock. Cook till the vegetables turn  soft and then serve.

According to ancient ayurvedic texts, the spinach soup creates a proper balance  between the kapha, pitta and the vata  doshas in the body. This eventually allows  the immune system to work for the wellbeing of our body.

It requires 2 cups of chopped spinach leaves; half an inch of ginger, minced, 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds, cumin seeds and hing, 3½ cups of water and some coriander leaves.
Blend the spinach, ginger  and the coriander leaves to a paste. In a  pan, fry the cumin seeds, mustard seeds  and hing in vegetable oil till they splutter. Add the spinach paste, salt and water. Cook for a while and serve, seasoned with  black pepper.

The ayurvedic tomato soup cures digestive problems. Preparation requires 2  tomatoes, cubed and boiled, 1½ of cups water. Blend the tomatoes to a paste. Put  this paste, salt and water in a pan and simmer for a few minutes. Add black pepper   and serve.

Whatever the case may be, a steaming  pot of soup, truly delivers the promise of good health.

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