Treat this article as Soups 101 only. I’m not getting into the making of gourmet soups here – Not because I don’t enjoy them, rather because I want you to ease into this activity, to the level of making it, like you make a cup of tea, without much ado!!!
Particularly in winters, if we have ready soups available OR the skill available to ready the soup, it can help us eat healthy & nourish the body, at no extra menace of putting on weight.
Ordering a soup from outside, should be the last option.
Opening a packet of Soup should NOT be an option!
The list of advantages of home made soup is inexhaustible. Just to name a few key points
- You know what has gone into this soup
- It’s cheaper to prepare it at home. May be even more cost effective, if we also count the left-over veggies that may have perished otherwise
- It can be treated as a mini meal
- You can always custom make it, as per your specifications, particularly eliminating the ingredients not suitable to you & your family
- You can modify the same soup, with little additions, to cover all the age range in your family or social gatherings
- Certain food items like Amla(Indian gooseberry), Olives etc. can be served through soups, rather than pickles
- Also it’s much easier to add some cinnamon or cardamom – with huge health benefits
Anatomy of Soups
Technically speaking, if you boil just Spinach leaves in half a bowl of water & season it.It can be termed as soup
Soups maybe of various types
These can be our go-to soups, specially if we don’t want to prepare stock or we are blanching veggies for another dish.Simply put it can be the water in which the veggies have been boiled(or pressure cooked), with or without the veggies pieces in it
It could also be the water in which chicken has been boiled or fish cooked for a short while
The Rajmah or Channe boiled & taken out
The combo of 2 or all 3 of above options – meaning you take the Rajmah out of this water for some other dish(maybe a salad) & then lightly cook some veggies in it. Season it with anything like just salt & pepper OR some readymade masala e.g. Pavbhaji masala
Homogenized thick soup
Normally after boiling, the ingredients are blended in a blender.
Soup thickened using a thickening agent
Though frowned upon in nutrition circles, the thickening may some times be essential for health reasons. But the thickening agents chosen, then, can be of higher nutritive value compared to the packaged thickening agents..
Simple curries of our Indian cuisine can, by definition, be termed as soups, with slight modifications.
The basic ingredients after being cooked & blended(or not-blended), be tempered using Ghee or Olive oil, with certain spices like Tej patta, Cuury patta, Whole red chillies, cumin seeds, whole coriander seeds etc etc.
Complete Meal Soups
I refrain from saying that unless a grain is added to the meal, it’s not complete!But adding pre-cooked grains like Rice, Barley, Quinoa, Buckwheat, Burglar’s wheat, Millets etc. can give a ‘Complete-meal’ look to the soup.But then the quantity to be added can always be checked, to keep it light.
Going by which type of soup one wants to create, few or more of the following ingredients can go into it, in varying proportions: –
- Stock– Can be vegetarian or non-vegetarian.
- Veggies– Though some like Tomatoes, Onions seems more common, but most veggies, with varying results can be used to create soups
- Protein– Either vegetarian (Beans, Soya chunks, Sprouts, Cottage cheese, Legumes) or non-vegetarian (Chicken, Fish, Eggs etc.) protein can be added later on, after cooking it separately – or the protein chosen, can be part of the complete cooking process with all the ingredients to begin with
- Herbs-Without any doubt, the fresh herbs add a perkier dimension to the soup – added at the end, these lend more freshness to the soup
- Condiments & Spices– This is the easiest way to increase the appeal of the soup.
- Nuts & Seeds- Adding some coarsely ground nuts can up the value of soup, along with adding a chewy part to this soft & liquidly dish
- Thickening Agent- It’s always better to use a natural thickening agent e.g.: Rice starch, Potatoes, Cauliflower etc.
Steps in soup making
- Choose the ingredients: This is the step, where I encourage you to think most out-of-the-box. If you are buying veggies and/or chicken/fish AND you know exactly what kind of soup you want to prepare – then please go ahead & buy the ingredients in a sequence & all in the right quantity, right proportion, right shape, right size etc etc etc
BUT if you just want to keep it easy;
You are at home;
You open your fridge & check the available ingredients;
Choose one, two, three or more veggies– mixing texture & flavors can enhance the taste. E.g. Tomatoes with pumpkin.
- Cook: Wash, Cut & boil them (Preferably, pressure cook) – Once you cook it, let it stay in the covered pot or Pressure cooker, for the soup to absorb it all
- Prepare: Optionally, use a hand masher to mash the softened up veggies(only after it cools down)
- Spice it up: If you add some spices & condiments to it. Your soup is ready.
So often it’s familiar flavor that we find comforting – so how about using Maggi masala OR Pavbhaji masala OR even Sambar masala for your soup ( Make sure you cook the masala well – hence it’d be a good idea to add this in the beginning)
- Opitional :
- Add sautéed or steamed chicken or fish
- Add some Sprouts, towards the end to protect the sprouts from getting overcooked
- Temper the soup with green chilies, onions, garlic
- Add finely chopped fresh herbs or some dried ones
- Coarsely grind some nuts & sprinkle on it
- Add Boiled Rice or Quinoa or Pasta – in small quantities to the soup to make a more filling meal of it
- Whisk an egg into boiling soup
Some Soupy Scenarios
These are certain ideas in some scenarios, where you can turn a non-soup left over into a soup. To execute these ideas too, you don’t have to stick to the exact recommendation.
Make choices & create modifications – like I said, don’t look for the ‘RECIPE’ – experiment & relish! Improvise & indulge!
- Gobhi Matar – Some left over veggie lying in the fridge.
Don’t let the Turmeric(Haldi), in that dish stop you from turning it into soup
Pressure cook garlic, tomatoes, Coriander, Small onion & the left over Veggie, together
Lightly mash it, or run through the thick soup strainer
Your choices – Have it before you are leaving for an outing OR add a toasted slice of whole wheat bread to make a complete hot meal out of it
- Eggs – You feel like or you need to have eggs
But don’t want to make a separate dish of it
beat the egg or only the egg white & mixed into boiling soup
- Sautéed mushrooms – For the longevity of mushrooms, it’s always advisable to sauté the mushrooms & then store – this way they remain good for a long long time
It’d be convenient way to turn into a soup too
choose to add celery, red & green peppers, garlic, herbs, Salt, Black peppers etc. to make a quick soup
- There’s half a bowl of dal lying in the fridge –
Just chop some some Garlic, celery, green Chilies, Tomatoes – in fact, pick your own list of ingredients
Pressure cook the ingredients
Add the left over Dal(Legumes) to it
Cook some more
Your choice – Add some boiled rice in the end to make a more filling meal OR instead of rice, add a potato to the list of ingredients – That’ll make the soup very filling & it’ll taste different too
Chicken Masala Leftover : It’s just half a bowl – make sure that chicken is deboned
Again make a choice of readily available veggies – since masala curry would probably have tomatoes & Onions already in it, you can skip these two
Think about adding finely chopped celery, Bell Peppers, Carrots, Sweet peas – Pressure them all together
Sample Soup Ideas
- Soup with: Tomato, Cauliflower, Ginger, Garlic & Basil leaves
- Soup with Milk, Mushrooms, Garlic
- Soup with Chicken stock, Onions, Celery, Carrots
- Soup with Pumpkin, Moong Dal, Tomato, Garlic, Coriander Stems
- Soup with Chicken, Tomato, Onions, Garlic, Whole Coriander
- Soup with Fish, French Beans, Baby Carrots
- Soup with boiled barley added to it
Tips to make it quickly
- Keep aside Kidney beans or garbanzos when boiling for the curry
- Freeze soup in small batches for a quick thawing later on
- Collect gadgets to make ‘soup’ing a frequent activity – buy small pressure cooker, simple soup strainer(if clear soup is your preference), blender, Chopper etc.
- Sauté mushrooms to store them for long periods
- Stock can be kept aside for quick soup preparation. The stock can be of: –
- Starch from Rice strained
- Whey from home made cottage cheese(Calcium rich solution, it can fortify the soup)
Basically, put some ingredients together;
Pressure cook them;
Make optional additions;
Spice it up, as per your preferences;
Serve yourself the soup in a nice soup bowl;
Yes, buy yourself some appealing soup serving bowls or mugs
Appearance can bring a world of difference to the appeal quotient of your Soup
Enjoy healthy eating!!!