Soups for the Soul
By Shabna Cader
I’ll be quite frank from the get-go, I am by no means a chef or savvy in the kitchen per se. I simply like to experiment with food and create meals that are hearty, tasty, and don’t necessarily take too long or much effort. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find this article to be of some use and perhaps give some of the (rough) recipes a go.
Soups, I find, are one of the easiest and nourishing bowls of food to serve, especially at dinner. You could pair the bowl with some homemade garlic bread, or cheesy breadsticks, or in my case, some grilled meat on the side. Keep in mind that the ingredients are not measured and are just an estimation. Therefore, you can customise the following to your preference, as well as to how many people you would be serving it to.
Potato, pumpkin, and carrot soup
What you’ll need for this are about two medium-sized potatoes, a quarter of a pumpkin (probably even a bit less than that), and two large carrots - the potatoes and carrots peeled, and then all three ingredients diced into chunks that will boil much faster. I boil them in a medium saucepan, with a bit of salt and some herbs of choice, so for me, this would be some dried thyme and rosemary, sometimes a dash of oregano as well. Boil well until all ingredients are nice and soft. Now, you may add half a can of coconut milk (or milk of your choice) at this point and continue to boil a bit more, but I like letting the vegetables sit in just water and cool for a bit. I add the coconut milk only to the blender. To this, I also sometimes add some chili powder or paprika. Blend until smooth and creamy and pour into a bowl. For presentation, I add a sprig of cilantro and a sprinkle of chili flakes.
Broccoli noodle soup
For this soup bowl, you’ll need a large broccoli floret, diced into small chunks. I would also recommend using the stems because you’ll be blending it all together towards the end. For the noodles, I prefer egg noodles but any kind of your choice would actually do. Bring a medium saucepan with water to a boil and then add the chunks of broccoli, with a pinch or two of salt. You won’t need to keep this in for too long. Add some herbs of your choice once again, or even some pepper. At this point, you can either choose to let the water and broccoli cool as is or add half a can of milk of your choice. I take it over to the blender, and then add the coconut milk, a sprinkle of chili flakes and give it a nice whirr until all blended smoothly with no chunks remaining. Simultaneously you could have your noodle of choice ready by now and simply add to a bowl, pour over the broccoli soup and garnish with a sprig of parsley for presentation.
Mushroom and herb soup
Two previous attempts at making mushroom soups resulted in disaster so I made it a point to give it yet another go and finally landed on this simple recipe. I use an entire box of button mushrooms, diced into half and then stir-fried with some herbs, butter, and paprika. For this, I would say it would taste much better with some fresh herbs of your choice. Mine are typically thyme, basil, oregano, or rosemary. If you’re feeling up to it, even a combination of all four would do! Chop a few garlic cloves and add that to the mushrooms too. Finally, add it all to a blender, add half a can of milk of your choice, and then blend until creamy and smooth. When serving, I do like adding a bit more pepper and some fresh herbs for presentation purposes.
For this little recipe, you’ll need chunks of fresh vegetables of your choice. Now, this is somewhat a stolen idea from my mum who used to make this soup for me and my family on a nearly weekly basis some years ago. It’s literally a variety of vegetables of your choice - potatoes, cauliflower, carrot, cabbage, beans, and I would also highly recommend adding some squash and broccoli for great measure and flavour. Add lots and lots of fresh cilantro and some wheat barley as well. As a stock, I know she’d use chicken stock but you could switch that with whatever you like and have at hand. Let all this sit and cook in a large pan on a low simmer for sometime, until the liquid is super aromatic and flavoursome. This one is quite the hearty meal in a bowl.
Roasted bell peppers soup
I’d say leave this recipe for a special occasion because bell peppers, red ones particularly, can cost a bit much. You’ll need about three large ones diced, cleaned out, and then coated with a thin layer of olive oil, some paprika, diced garlic, and a pinch of salt to taste all added to a grill pan or even oven pan. You could roast them atop the fire, or choose to do it in the oven, whichever you like. Remember to keep turning them over so that only one side does not get roasted. Once they are limp, add them to a blender, add half a can of milk of your choice, a little bit of water (if the milk seems too thick), and give it a whirr until smooth. Present the soup bowl a small dollop of curd of your choice.