Category Archives: Soups
If there is one thing I didn’t know about San Francisco before the move, it is about its extremely fickle weather.
It’s not like Seattle where it can rain anytime. Here it is extreme.The mornings that usually start with a roll of fog or cloud cover, make way for splendid sunny afternoons. Warm enough to be in shorts and sandals. And sunny days can give way to foggy afternoons. Yesterday it was 70 F and today its 48F.So locals tend to dress in layers.
The fog and clouds brings chilly weather and it is perfect for soups.
Pumpkin and sage, chicken noodle or even simple tomato and bell pepper. We had a lovely mussels in sofrito based soup over the weekend for lunch and ended the day with a hearty cauliflower soup.
Creamy, cheesy and healthy. Not something you will see in same sentence. Usually. But its the milk that adds to the natural creaminess of roasted cauliflower here. Sum total being greater than parts.
I have seen pinterest pictures of this being made with colorful cauliflower heads. I made with plain old white one.
Mom was a little skeptical. She is used to standard normal tomato and clear broth soups. For her,vegetables are had stir fried with a little spices. Not with cheese and blended into a soup. This was too much of a paradigm shift for her. But we all loved it.
Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup Recipe
- 1 small head cauliflower, chopped into florets ( about 2- 2 1/2 cups)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- 2 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup red onion coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoon chopped mint
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Toss cauliflower with spices and olive oil. Lay it in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for about 30 – 40 minutes till golden spots begin to appear.
- In a saucepan, heat the teaspoon of olive oil. Saute onion in it till cooked for about couple of minutes over medium heat.
- Add cauliflower, mint, salt and 2 cups of water. Mix well. Cook for another couple of minutes.
- Using an immersion blender, blend the cauliflower soup. Else wait for it to cool a bit and blend in a regular blender. Hot liquids and blenders need to be handled carefully.
- Add milk and cheese. Mix well and cook for another minute.
Serve warm with garlic bread.
Its raining, in fact pouring all day here in Hyderabad. So much so that when I went to pick up Varun I was soaked to the skin. I somehow managed to keep him dry.
We came home, a bit cold and wet. And I wanted something light and piping hot for dinner.
Soup came to my mind. Or rather rasam did. I didn’t have any curry leaves on hand so wondered how rasam would taste without it. Without another moment’s hesitation I decided to make simple tomato carrot soup. Now that alone wouldn’t be sufficient for dinner. I always wonder when people say they had soup for dinner, how much of that tureen of soup they had? I decided to make some rice so Varun could eat plain rice if everything else failed.
When I opened the fridge to take out carrots and tomatoes, I saw the red and yellow bell peppers smiling at me. They wanted to join the party and thus the idea of a simple bell pepper rice along with the soup was born.
Rice was being cooked. Tomato and carrot were merrily boiling with a clove of garlic and a couple of peppercorns. I diced up green onions and bell pepper and then went to solve a couple of puzzles with Varun.
Once the rice cooled, I quickly stir fried the pepper with simple spices ( turmeric, bay leaf and cinnamon), puréed the soup’s vegetables and then added cooked rice to the pepper stir fry.
Within minutes we had a hearty and comforting dinner ready to eat.
Varun was hungry by now and we sat down with our respective meals.
Making the dinner was super easy, if only other things in life were as quick and easy!
Pepper Rice and Tomato-Carrot Soup Recipe
For Pepper Rice
- 1 cup long grained rice
- 2 cups water to cook rice
- 1/2 cup green onions sliced ( just the white and pale green parts)
- 3/4 cup yellow bell peppers cubed
- 3/4 cup red bell pepper cubed
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 inch cinnamon stick
- 2-3 medium-sized dried red chillies
- 1 1/2 tablespoon urad dal soaked in water for 10 minutes or so
- 1 tablespoon channa dal soaked in water for 10 minutes or so
- Pinch of turmeric
- Pinch of red chilli powder
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 cup green onions ( green parts) diced (for garnish)
For Tomato Carrot Soup
- 2 roma or 1 beefsteak tomato
- 1 carrot – peeled and chopped into 1 ” peices
- 1 garlic clove
- 3 pepper corns
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups water
- Salt and Pepper to taste
To Make the Pepper Rice
1. Set the soup ingredients (other than salt and pepper) to boil while the rice cooks. Once rice is done, fluff it and set aside.
2. Heat oil in a wok. Once it is hot, add mustard and cumin seeds.
After they sizzle, add bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Keep stirring for 20 – 30 secs. Now add the dried chillies. Crush them if you prefer a spicier rice. Keep stirring while the spices cook without burning them.
3. Now add urad and channa dal after draining the water. Let this cook for about 1/2 a minute. Keep stirring to prevent them from sticking to the pan.
4. Add the green onions, flash cook for 30 seconds. Add the bell peppers.
Cook for another couple of minutes.
5. Once peppers are partially cooked, add turmeric powder, chilli powder and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning’s.
6. Add the cooked rice, stir well. Taste and adjust seasoning’s. Cover with a lid and let cook for a minute or so on low flame.
7. To make the soup, blend the cooked soup ingredients together till there are no lumps. You can strain the soup to remove any lumps or skin.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve soup with rice while its still piping hot.
Traditionally when my aunt used to make pudachi vadi, she used to serve it with Srikhand – a very sweet rich creamy Indian dessert. I didn’t want to make or buy anything that rich but knew that we would need a little something a couple of hours later after eating the vadi’s.
Anand brought home made rasam recently when we met for dinner and I thought rice and rasam would be a perfect complement to the hearty pudachi vadi. A twist to the traditional rasam, a pineapple rasam is a sweet and sour soup that can be served as is or with rice and a dollop of ghee. Its one of those simple dishes that make weeknight cooking a breeze and yet with its variations (tomato, garlic, ginger, lemon, sprouts, beets or even leafy greens like spinach) keep the family enthused.
I used the ingredients on hand, left out the tamarind pulp and while the rice cooked had a piping hot soup, ready to be served. This is a no fuss recipe with ample of deviations from traditional cooking. Yet its full of flavor and perfect for cool spring evenings!
Pineapple Rasam Recipe
- 1/4 cup toor dal + 1 cup water
- Pinch turmeric powder
- 1 medium tomato finely chopped
- 3- 4 slices of pineapple finely chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoon rasam powder
- Pinch of hing or asafoetida
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- Salt to taste
- 3 cups water
For the tadka or tempering
- 2 teaspoon ghee or oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 2 – 3 whole red chilies
- 1 spring curry leaves
1. Cook the dal with water in a pressure cooker with turmeric ( or in a saucepan with lid on for about 30 minutes till the lentils are mushy and disintegrate in the water.)
2. Add the tomato, pineapple, hing, rasam powder, chili powder and salt with remaining water and let this come to a boil. Lower to a simmer.
3. In a separate saucepan, heat some ghee. Add mustard seeds, red chilies and curry leaves and let them sizzle. Add this to the rasam saucepan. It will crackle as you add the seasonings and ghee to the soupy rasam. Let the mix boil for a few minutes.
Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or as is as soup.
Continuing with the ‘Eat more veggies’ theme, over the weekend I cooked up a storm. Actually my cook was OOF so I was forced to cook. First up was red pepper carrot soup. The first time I have ever had red pepper was a packaged version from Whole Foods. And it was so good that we used to stock it up. Now in India, I don’t buy any pre-packaged food.
This version of red pepper carrot soup is very easy to make. Dice, sauté and blend. Sweet, creamy and colorful. Sautéing it brings out the natural sugar in carrots and bell pepper. The reddish – orange hue is particularly appetizing. If you have a stock of those lovely deep red Indian carrots ( or purple and deep orange ones from farmers market) then give this recipe a try. It freezes well so double up and freeze a portion for mid-week.
Red Pepper Carrot Soup Recipe
- Canola or Olive Oil – 1 tbsp.
- Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
- 2-3 garlic cloves – diced
- 1 medium onion – diced
- 1 Bell pepper – deseeded and diced
- 2 carrots – peeled and diced
- Water or Chicken Stock – 1 cup
- Mint chopped – a generous bunch, chopped
- Veggie Bouillon – 1 packet (optional)
- Ginger grated – 1/4 inch root
- Pepper – 1/ 4 tsp
- Salt to taste
1. Heat oil in a pan, and when warm add cumin seeds. Once they sizzle, add garlic. Once garlic is slightly browned, add diced onions.
2. Once the onions are translucent, add carrots. Let it cook for a couple of minutes. Once softened, add bell pepper. Cover and let cook for another couple of minutes.
3. Add pepper, bouillon, ginger and salt. Add water and let cook for another couple of minutes.
4. Once carrots and peppers are cooked through, add mint and let it simmer for about a minute.
5. Blend this using a magic bullet or a regular blender. Adjust water and seasonings to taste after it is blended.
Garnish with sharp cheddar or mint leaves. Serve warm with crackers and cheese or with a Fritata for a light brunch.