Soup for the soul: Stir your way to good health, this winter

There’s a nip in the air, and evenings are perfect to snuggle up in warm, cosy blankets with a good book to read or an engaging film or web show to watch. And what could complete this better than a bowl of hot soup.

In the winters, nothing spells comfort better than a hot beverage, a popular choice being a wholesome soup. Packed with nutrients, crunchy vegetables and even meat, this is one meal in a bowl. Prepared with ingredients such as lemon, tomato, ginger, garlic, etc. they also serve as immunity boosters and help keep illnesses at bay.

If you’re looking for a way to fight Covid-19, pollutants and various infections that are common this season in a flavourful way, chefs suggest some lip-smacking recipes to try out:

Desi Chinese all the way!
Recipe by chef Ranveer Brar

Ingredients: 2 tbsp oil, 1 inch ginger (finely chopped), 2 medium garlic cloves (finely chopped), 1 fresh green chilli (chopped), 1 medium-sized onion (finely chopped), 1 dry red chilli (charred), 1 small carrot (finely diced), ¼ medium cabbage (finely diced), 3-4 medium-sized mushrooms (diced), 2tbsp soya sauce, salt to taste, ½ tsp black pepper powder, 1tsp sugar, 1tsp vinegar, water, 4-6 French beans (finely chopped), 1 medium whole spring onion (chopped), 2tbsp chopped coriander leaves, corn starch

Method: In a wok or kadai, heat oil and add ginger, garlic, green chilli, onion and sauté for a minute. Now, add charred dry red chilli and then add carrot, cabbage, mushroom and sauté for 2-3 minutes on high flames. Next, add soya sauce, salt, black pepper powder, sugar and water, and boil it for 5-6 minutes.

Add vinegar, boil for a minute and add French beans, spring onion, coriander leaves and mix well. Then, add corn starch slurry, stir it until lightly thickened and serve hot.

Flavour, nutrition in a bowl
Recipe by chef Nishant Choubey

Ingredients: 2 cups of red split lentils, 1 onion, 2tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, 6 cups water, 3tsp ground cumin, 2tsp turmeric, ½ tsp ground black pepper, a pinch of finely chopped coriander, 4 lemon wedges, 1tsp salt

For mint pesto: 1/2 cup slivered almonds, 2 cups fresh basil packed, 1/2 cup fresh mint packed, 1 garlic clove, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup warm water, 1 lemon zest and juice of half a lemon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Method: Rinse the lentils and drain. In a large pot, heat the olive oil, add the finely chopped onion and cook until it starts to soften. Add the drained lentils to the pot and stir for one minute. Then, add the water, salt, cumin, pepper and turmeric. Bring the ingredients to a boil and let boil on medium heat for 20 minutes. Add more water if needed, to thin the soup. Sprinkle some finely chopped coriander and serve with a lemon wedge (squeeze lemon just before consuming).

To make the pesto, add the slivered almonds to a food processor and pulse on high until they are finely chopped. Then, add the basil, mint, garlic, warm water, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper. Set the processor on continuous speed, and puree until creamy while streaming the olive oil in. If you like a slightly chunky pesto, skip the water and stop the machine before it becomes smooth.

A bowl of lemony goodness
Recipe by Rubal Pupneja, jr sous chef, The Samrat – New Delhi

Ingredients: 2tsp oil, 1tsp chopped garlic, ½ tsp chopped ginger, 3tsp chopped coriander stem, 1sp roasted cumin powder, 2 bay leaves, 20g chopped onion, 30g chopped carrot, 30g chopped beans, 30g chopped cabbage, 30g corn kernels (coarsely chopped), 400ml water, 15g corn flour, 3tsp chopped coriander leaves, 2tbsp lemon juice, ½ tsp whiter pepper powder, salt to taste

Method: Heat oil in a pan, add bay leaves, ginger, garlic and sauté. Then, add onions, coriander stem and sauté (it should not turn brown). Add chopped carrot, beans, cabbage and sauté over low flame for 2-3 minutes. Next, add water, salt, roasted cumin powder and pepper powder and allow it to cook on high flame for 10 minutes. In the meantime, prepare corn flour slurry by mixing 1tbsp corn flour with 90-100 ml of water. Mix well to ensure there are no lumps.

Pour the prepared slurry into the soup and boil for 2-3 minutes. Adjust the seasoning, remove from the flame, add chopped coriander leaves, lemon juice and serve hot.

The immunity booster
Recipe by Rajesh Singh, executive sous chef, Taj Mahal, New Delhi

Ingredients: 1tbsp coconut oil, ½ cup chopped shallot, 2tbsp chopped fresh turmeric, 2tbsp chopped peeled ginger, 4 garlic cloves, 2 cups vegetable stock, 200g carrots, ½ tsp salt, 100ml coconut milk, 1tsp curry powder, ½ tsp lime juice, pinch or two of cayenne, mint, black sesame seeds

Method: Peel and chop shallots, turmeric, ginger and garlic. Cut peeled carrots into ½ inch rings. Heat oil in a large pot, and add shallots, turmeric root and ginger and sauté until golden. Add garlic and stir for about 2 minutes. Add vegetable stock, carrots, salt and bring to a boil. Cover, simmer until carrots are tender (15-20 minutes). Let it cool and then blend in batches to form a smooth texture. Place the soup back in a pot over low heat, add coconut milk, curry and vinegar. Simmer and stir until coconut milk is combined. Season with salt if needed, add some cayenne, garnish with mint and black sesame seeds.

Quintessential tomato with a twist
Recipe by Rubal Pupneja, jr sous chef, The Samrat – New Delhi

Ingredients: 200g chopped tomatoes, 20g chopped celery, 10g chopped garlic, 40g chopped onion, 2tbsp olive oil, 20g basil leaves, ½ tsp black peppercorn, a pinch of salt, croutons (for garnish)

Method: Take oil in a pan, add black peppercorn, celery, garlic, onion and sauté it over low flame for a minute. Then, add tomatoes, basil leaves and a pinch of salt and cook it over low flame for around half an hour or till it thickens. Blend this into a smooth puree-like consistency.

Take the blended paste in a pan, add a bit of hot water/vegetable stock and stir till you get soup-like consistency. Check the seasoning, pour it into a bowl, garnish with fresh cream, basil leaves, croutons and shavings of parmesan cheese (optional).

Author tweets @srinidhi_gk

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