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Soups are super!

If one wishes to maintain a healthy diet, soups packed with the goodness of fresh ingredients and very low in fat are a definite inclusion in the everyday meals. As a light lunch with crusty bread, or, as a starter, modern soups are extremely quick and easy to make. An added bonus is the variety of fresh, seasonal vegetables available all year round. With soups becoming convenient foods these days, one can just open a readymade packet, dissolve properly in some water, bring to a boil and voila! A yummy soup is ready to be served.

Soups in their slow boiled, original form with astounding range of textures, flavours, ingredients and character can be consumed as appetizers or one-course meals or snacks.

We get different kinds of soups for different occasions at various times. There can be a clear or light soup that can be served as a starter to a meal; a filling, creamy soup that can almost be a complete meal; a hot and spicy soup that tastes great on a on a cold or a rainy day and a chilled soup that serves as a perfect start to a summer meal. Nothing can beat the goodness which a soup brings along. A good stock is the foundation of a great soup. Thin soups in general are lower in nutritive content as compared to thick soups. Chicken sweet corn and green pea soups are especially valuable for their protein content. A bowl of spinach soup provides one third of an adult’s daily iron requirements. 


------> Delicious Soups

Go veggie with soups!

If you plan to go veggie, there’s plenty to inspire one – cold, light soups to refresh your palate on a hot summer’s day, rice and creamy soups to slide like velvet over your taste buds, spicy soups to warm and comfort you on cold winter days and hearty soups, full of goodness, to provide a satisfying lunch when hunger strikes! Soups are definitely for all occasions.

The world of soups is definitely something to explore with, as this healthy food forms a part of every cuisine in the world – whether they are called gumbos, potages, broths, chowders or consommes. And for a very few dishes that we know, which give all-round pleasure – nothing can beat down a good homemade soup.

Soups sure do have an interesting background, where the recipes have been as old as cooking itself and centuries have passed in adapting and reinventing the various authentic and traditional soup recipes around the world. Soups in their slow boiled, original form, are the ultimate in creativity encompassing an astounding range of textures, flavours, ingredients and character. Soups are appetizers, one-course meals or snacks, from thin and clear to thick and creamy!

Good veggie soups are easy to make, especially if you use the freshest ingredients, when they are in season. Soups are tempting - be it the filling pistou from France, the cooling gazpacho from Spain, a warming one from Germany, the traditional one from the British Isles, a fruity one from Romania or a classic borscht from Russia. To make that ultimate soup, the foundation should be set right – a good stock serves this purpose as the basis of all soups, be it a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian one. While talking about that complete soup, one also needs to prepare the right garnish which not only enhances the simplest soup but also gives that professional touch adding to the contrasting texture and complementary flavour. Various veggies like tomato swirls, leek sticks, celery, coriander and mint leaves can be used for making these innovative and fancy garnishes.

When talking about the health concerns, nothing can beat a bowl of spinach soup which can fulfill one third on an adult's daily iron requirements. Try substituting chicken, fish, egg and meat with beans, sprouts and lentils as main ingredients for a protein rich soup. Make vitamin and mineral rich soups using veggies like spinach, celery, carrot, peas, cabbage and lettuce. Adding a carrot also reduces the sourness while increasing the nutrient value. Our very own Indian versions of light and clear vegetarian soups like the South Indian rasam and saaru, the Maharashtrian saar and the Gujarati osaman are also good sources of vitamins and minerals besides being low in calories - serving perfect for people watching and working on that extra flab!

Here we give you a selection of vegetarian soups! Keep the pots bubbling! 

Cook & serve the delicious soups - the right way

Although the recipe of a soup seem very easy but it has a very interesting background. We really should not take this hot nourishing liquid for granted. It all began with the procedure called ‘boiling’ about 5000 years ago! Boiling foods created great new tastes, permitted the fuller use of animal and plant products and expanded the range of foods that our ancestors consumed. Many animal parts, such as bones, could not be eaten even if roasted. Thus, boiling extracted whatever nutritional value these unused parts possessed. Likewise, some plant parts were inedible in their natural state, but became consumable after boiling.

Here are a few pointers that one can keep in mind to get a good soup onto the table:

A proper roux made with plain helps to thicken soup in a tasty way. One can also use tomato paste, or plenty of grated or finely chopped vegetables for thickening the soup.

•Stirring smoothly - mashed potato till it is well combined also acts as a wonderful thickening agent.

• If the soup becomes over salted, one can use a raw potato. Peel a large potato and cut it into quarters. Put it in the soup and cook it for about fifteen to twenty minutes. Take out the potato and the salt level will be reduced. The now-cooked potato is often delicious too!

• One can also experiment with the creative streak by using appropriate garnishes and accompaniments to make an unassuming soup look attractive. We have often seen croutons and dollops of cream adorn the surface of many a soup. How about a sprinkling of red chilli powder on a creamy white vegetable soup? Or a few carrot curls adding texture to spicy curry based soups? Shreds of lime on a red pepper soup? Fresh coriander leaves make a sweet corn soup shine.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of soup is that it can be made from almost anything and that too in minutes. Toss any kind of meat or vegetable into a pot of boiling water with some onions, sliced potatoes, add some salt and pepper. In 30 minutes or less you will have a lovely pot of soup. With soups one can get the time, money and health and value advantage in no time at all. So serve it up a notch with soup!

Soup is traditionally served in a soup cup or a soup plate (a soup plate is a wide, shallow bowl) that has an under-plate. Soup cup is accompanied by a dessert spoon and soup plate by a soup spoon. Generally, thick soup is served in a soup plate and clear soup is served in a cup. A tureen is normally used to serve thick soups. It is often shaped as a broad, oval vessel with fixed handles and a low domed cover with a handle. Traditionally for serving the thick soup garnish is first placed in the soup plate and then the soup is poured directly from the tureen into the soup plate. This is the classical traditional way in which soup used to be served but not anymore. To cut to the chase serve is as you like it may be a glass bowl or a katori or in a coffee mug as long as you enjoy it.

Serving Indian Soups - Most Indian soups are served hot with an accompaniment such as steamed rice or toasted bread. Condiments like lemon juice, sliced pickled onions, salt and pepper may be served alongside to each diner according to his/her personal taste. The ethnic and cultural diversity of India translates to awide variety of yummy soups.

Few of the more popular ones are as follows:

Popular shorbas that are still prepared in North India are zirabaj (cumin) soup. Chicken & lentil shorba, yakhni which is a kashmiri mutton soup. The dal palak shorba made from lentils & spinach. Last but not the least the paya shorba or goat/sheep trotter soup.

Mulligatawny is one of the most well-known soups in South India. It is prepared by simmering meat or chicken, with vegetables and a minimum amount of spices. Till date, every Indian restaurant will have some form of the soup on their menu.

Turn the ordinary soup into something extraordinary…go the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” way!! 

Know your soups

How well you know the humble soup? The etymological idea underlying the word soup comes from French word soupe, which mean soup or broth. Germany claims that Vulgar Latin termsuppa from which they adopted word "sop" described, a piece of bread used to soak up soup and thereby they coined in the term soup.

None the less, soup is a liquid nutritive food. It has appetizing and salubrious properties (i.e. low calorie diet) that make it, a widely popular choice amongst the masses and classes. Cost effective and packed with nutrition it brings in a tasteful variety to the meals.

Soups were easily digested and were prescribed for invalids since the olden times. The modern restaurant industry is believed to be based on soup. “Restoratifs” translated to "restaurant” were the first items served in public restaurants in late 17th century Paris. Thereby, bouillon and consomme arrived. Classic French cuisine produced many of the soups we know today. It is said that the soup was the first & last dish served in the first restaurant started in France.


Now that we have got to the soup basics, try to imagine a bowl of soup and common image that conjures up is that of a hot tomato soups or piping hot chicken soup for a majority of people in India. But largely-popular cold soups also do exist. Cold soups are a specific variation of the traditional soup, where the temperature when served is kept at or below room temperature. An example of a very popular, savory chilled soup is gazpacho, a chilled vegetable-based soup originating from Spain. Imagine that for a change. Cool innovation of soups, isn’t it? Yet the idea is so simple. Anyone can do it. For the soup novices, here is an idea, expand your soup menu by thinking of chilled soups, that can be served chilled,like cucumber butter milk soup, almond soup for the approaching, sweltering, hot summer season!

Speaking of menus here is something interesting, Indian Soup’s History -a soup preparation of course was not customarily a part of the Indian food culture. The Mogul rulers of India propagated the use of thin broths or gravies that were served as appetizers before meals in Northern India. These were very similar to soups referred to as shorbas. Shorbas were prepared by simmering meat and vegetables in water with an array ofaromatic herbs. The thin broth was then separated from the vegetables and served separately. These soups were very well known in North India. However, in a typical South Indian meal, the rice and gravies were served together and this was usually followed by a sweet dish. There was no separate soup course.The advent of the British into India changed that and in their insistence on milder dishes a new innovation was born. Perplexed, South-Indianchefs adapted local gravy dishes like rasam to form, thinner and milder versions called as Mulligatawny or melligu-thani or pepper water. These were served as soups and were quite a hit amongst the British.

Since, the British rule soup has come a long way, but obvious for their apparent health and appetizing reasons.Vegetable soups are good because of their stimulating and health qualities and they help to restore the necessary water balance, which in turn helps to regulate the blood pressure and salt content. They are the most nutritive method of consuming vegetables because the vitamins and nutrients in the soup are retained better unlike the overcooked vegetables. If you think about chicken soup and it’s much-talked about benefits on cold and flu attacks, you would be pleased to know that the old tales are true. Chicken soup especially if homemade has anti-inflammatory effects and can help to alleviate the symptoms of a cold. Adding a quick bowl of soup to your meals during the cold season can help you warm up and avoid unnecessary calories built up at the same time. Soups also form a big part of the dinner menus for a good reason i.e. it is the last meal of the day and should be light. 

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.