A steaming bowl of soup bursting with flavours, made with varied ingredients, is the ultimate comfort food during monsoons, be it a desi paya shorba, a flavourful Mulligatawny soup or even a Pepper rasam
The options are varied, based on individual preferences and palates. What’s more, soups can be from various cuisines, ranging from Western classics to Pan Asian favourites or even our very own desi shorbas and yes, healthy versions too.A Mexican red lentil soup with lime and pepper or a Spicy Miso soup can be the answer for those seeking a spicy soup. Of course if soups are to be a substitute for a meal, these must be wholesome and filling as well. For those wanting to tantalize their taste buds, a piquant tamatar ka shorba, can be a great option.
Taste apart, warmth and immunity are key in this season to boost one’s immunity and thus, the right use of ingredients plays an important role. A careful selection of ingredients can up the health quotient of these comforting soups.
Greens, roots, herbs, spices and meat when added, can make a world of difference to the soup in terms of imparting it a healthy twist, which can safeguard one against winter ailments. Dark green leafy vegetables and seasonal vegetables, are a must addition and should be included wherever possible. Ginger and peppercorns as spices, with medicinal properties, too can do wonders. Adding a spoonful of ginger powder or some grated fresh ginger root, to the soup is an ideal way to boost your immunity and reduce inflammation, along with improving circulation and digestion.
Root vegetables, mushrooms and barley with an addition of meat stock makes for a robust and filling soup infused with health benefits. A lemon chickpea and greens soup, too is a good choice for non-vegetarians as it is rich in protein.
Soups help one soothe and relax in an inexplicable way when one is down with cold, cough and fever. The spice quotient should be perfect to give heat, as well as soothe to the throat. It’s about using the right spices like cinnamon sticks, cinnamon (dalchini) powder, nutmeg (jaiphal) powder, ginger, fresh turmeric, white pepper powder and pepper.
Pan Asian soups offer a myriad flavours which are universally appealing. Some soups can be clear, others with noodles, meats and vegetables. Clear chicken soup with light, fluffy dumplings and a deeply savoury, salubrious broth could be the answer, if one is seeking a light but comforting Oriental soup. A Japanese miso soup with udon noodles again is delicious and proves to be a one bowl meal. An egg drop noodle soup immediately gives a burst of flavours and is replete with the requisite proteins too.
Whoever said soups that satisfy you must be western classics or global concoctions only? Pepper Rasam owing to its spice content, is soothing and therefore is a perfect soup for winter. Various mildly-flavoured shorbas from traditional Indian cuisine, made with vegetables, lentils and beans, are apt for winter. Chef Sinha recommends, Murgh Makkai Shorba, Carrot and Beetroot Shorba, Tamatar ka Shorba, Dal shorba.
Soups may be a meal in themselves, yet, many enjoy eating it with some accompaniments. Garlic bread, soup sticks, crostini are typical choices.
So, seasonal vegetables, meaty mushrooms, tender chicken or lentils. Add what you like to your fragrant soups this season, but make sure it is satisfying and provides you with the requisite nutrients.