Naini Setalvad finds ways to spruce up her humble bowl of soup by loading it up with the goodness of vegetables. One bowl of this fortifying dish a day can build your immune system, boost vitality, and even fight cancer.
In the Harry Potter universe, witches and wizards hanker after a potion called “liquid luck”— a pick-me-up that promises to turn an ordinary day into an extraordinary one. While this much sought-after potion from the fantasy world comes with its own share of side-effects, we, non-magic people, have our own magic liquid which is bursting with flavours and nutrition. It’s called “soup”!
Soup is one dish that is as diverse as the population of this country. It has many variations. The South Indian rasam is also a soup, and see how well it cleanses your sinuses and digestive system! A bowl of rasam a day will surely keep the doctor away.
Winters are a great time to consume some delicious and healthy soups. But, we need to keep in mind the type of soup we are consuming. Only when soups are prepared from vegetables are they magical for us due to the sheer amount of nutrients present in them. A steaming bowl of vegetable soup is a rich source of fibre that helps regulate the digestive system and maintain the health of our digestive tract. Soups act as natural cleansers for clogged arteries, courtesy, all the vegetables and good quality fat that go into it. A quick and easy way to have plenty of vegetables without compromising on taste and flavour is to have vegetable soups.
Ensure that vegetable soups are a regular part of your meals as they are laden with antioxidants. These antioxidants not only lend bright colours to your soup but also help battle the ill-effects of pollution, stress, and unhealthy food. They deep cleanse your body from within: cells, arteries, lungs, and other organs alike.
The best thing about vegetable soup is that a bowl or two of it fills your stomach, making it a great option for shedding those extra kilos. What’s more, this miraculous bowl, when loaded with tons of vegetables like onion, garlic, carrot, pumpkin, and tomato, can be a great weapon for fighting cancer. These vegetables contain lycopene, beta-carotene, and Vitamin E, which are some of the most powerful and natural tools that prevent cancer from multiplying.
A nutritious meal can be made from a soup preparation by playing around with ingredients. Simply add small amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to the vegetables. Making soups is great fun as you can throw in as many condiments and spices as you want, to make it tasty. By adding peas, kidney beans, chickpeas, moong daal, tuvar daal or any other lentils; cheese, paneer, tofu, edamame beans, yogurt, or even rice, you can turn a simple soup into a full meal. A variety of carbohydrates like potato, sweet potato, whole grain bread, corn, or even freshly made pasta and noodles can be added to the soup to make it more filling.
Not only are soups a healthy and yummy option, they also help us digest our food. Soups can be thickened by blending in fats like coconuts, almonds, pistachios, cashew nuts, seeds, ghee, or extra virgin olive oil. Fats give soup a creamy and nutty texture. My mouth starts watering as I think about my yummy bottle gourd soup and the Singaporean Laksa soup which brims with the goodness of coconut. Sautéing in ghee and adding coconut makes a spinach soup even more delicious. By adding in nuts, we can get rid of white flour and cream which are traditionally used to thicken soups.
A soup can be sweet, spicy, tangy, and creamy. Let your tongue decide what condiments you want to add into your soup. Ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, chillies, or black pepper can spice up your soup. Fresh or dried herbs can change the flavour of the soup. Curry leaves, basil, oregano, celery, parsley, coriander, oriental lemongrass—these tiny leaves are powerhouses of nutrients. Spices and herbs warm you up when the temperature drops. When the soup is your canvas, the entire Indian masala box can be your palette for good health.
A humble bowl of soup can veritably pack a punch. Be innovative in your creations, and mix and match as you fancy; nothing can go wrong while making a soup. Just do not forget the vegetables. So, in the way a witch or wizard brews up a pick-me-up potion, try brewing up different vegetable soups daily to improve your health!
Bottle gourd soup
250 gm bottle gourd
A pinch of cinnamon
1 tsp cow’s ghee
2 tbsp grated coconut
Salt and lemon juice to taste
Chop the bottle gourd into small cubes.
Sauté them in ghee.
Add grated coconut to it and blend.
Add cinnamon and salt.
Squeeze some lemon juice on it and serve.
Ginger carrot soup
300 gm red carrots
4 cups water
1 tbsp cow’s ghee
1 ½ cup chopped onion
2 coarsely chopped walnuts
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
½ inch ginger piece
1 ½ tsp salt
¼ tsp each cumin, ground fennel, cinnamon, all spices
3 to 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Peel and trim carrots and cut them into one-inch chunks.
In a wok, add cow’s ghee and sauté carrots, onion, garlic, and ginger, until carrots are tender (about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the carrot pieces).
Add chopped walnuts, salt, and spices. Lower the heat, and continue to sauté for another eight to 10 minutes, or until everything is mixed well and the onions are soft.
Stir in lemon juice.
Use a food processor or blender to purée everything together.
Transfer the purée to a kettle and add water if needed. Heat it for a while.
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