“Let me be the first to tell you, drinking alcohol is the worst thing to do in cold weather. Hot soup is the best because the process of digesting food helps to warm you up.”

Morgan Freeman   A hot soup on a winter evening is simply comfort in a bowl. It warms every bit of you and makes you feel awfully good. Yummm! Be it a gooey creamy chilli soup or a clear vegetable soup or the classic tomato soup or the modern popcorn soup – each is at its best! As Marge Kennedy points out, soup is like family. Each batch has its own individual characteristics. Each ingredient of a soup enhances the other ingredients to a whole different level. A soup is not just a soup. It is many a thing more.   “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup”

Ludwig van Beethoven   These are four of my favourite winter soups. Simple and easy to make and marked with the magical ambrosial taste. These soups are simply splendid.

Vegetable Soup with Basil Sauce 

vegetable-soup-sweet-basil

 Time taken:25 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

For vegetable stock- 2 medium onions (chopped), 1 medium leek (chopped), 1 medium carrot (chopped), 1 bay leaf tied with 1 large sprig of parsley, 1 small piece of bottle gourd (chopped) For basil sauce- ½ cup fresh basil leaves, 2 large cloves of garlic, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, 3 grated Parmesan cheese, 1/3 cup olive oil For soup- 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 medium potato (cut into small cubes), 1 medium zucchini (cut into small cubes), ½ cup boiled peas, ½ cup soaked and boiled broad beans, 2 medium tomatoes (blanched and chopped), salt, pepper, ½ cup boiled pasta

Directions: For vegetable stock- Pour 6 cups water in a pressure cooker, add the stock ingredients, and pressure cook till the pressure is released 3 times (3 whistles). Cool and discard the parsley and bay leaf. Puree the ingredients, pass through a strainer and set aside. For basil sauce- Blend all the ingredients except oil in a small blender for 20 seconds. Gradually add oil and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until needed. For soup- heat olive oil in a pan. Add potato and zucchini and cook for 3- 4 minutes. Add peas, beans and tomatoes along with pureed stock, salt and pepper. Boil hot soup into individual bowls, spoon basil sauce on top and serve.

Mongolian Hot Pot

mongolian hot pot

Time taken: 30 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

For clear vegetable stock- 1 carrot (chopped), 1 onion (chopped), 1 stem spring onion (chopped), 1 stick celery (chopped), 1 inch ginger (chopped), a few black peppercorns For dips and garnishes- 2 cups coarsely chopped Chinese cabbage leaves, 200 gm cubed tofu (bean curd), 100 gm rice noodles (soaked in hot water), 2-3 tbsp sesame paste, ¼ cup soy sauce mixed with ¼ cup water, ¼ cup rice vinegar, ¼ cup chilli oil, ¼ cup finely chopped coriander, 4 tbsp chopped garlic (soaked in a little vinegar and salt

Directions:

Pour 6 cups water in a pan. Add the stock ingredients and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain and transfer the stock to a heatproof ceramic or metal dish. Place the dish on a small burner on the table. Bring the stock back to boil. Arrange all the dips and garnishes in individual bowls and place them on the table. Diners cook their own choice of vegetables and tofu and season them to individual taste with dips and sauces. Each one should place some noodles in a bowl and top it with some simmering stock flavoured with sauces to taste. This soup is eaten as a final course.

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin-Soup

Time taken: 25 minutes

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

1 tbsp salad oil or sunflower oil (for brushing), 1 tsp ginger paste, 1 tsp garlic paste, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 onion (chopped), 1 potato (chopped), 1 carrot (chopped), 2 celery stalks (chopped), 700-900 gm red pumpkin (peeled, seeded and chopped), 1 ½-2 cups clear vegetable stock, salt (to taste), pepper (to taste), lemon juice (to taste), chopped coriander, reserved pumpkin shell (cleaned and washed) Directions: Heat oil in a large pan. Add ginger, garlic and coriander powder and sauté for 2- 3 minutes. Add all the vegetables and pumpkin and cook until slightly softened. Add 3 cups water and transfer the soup to a pressure cooker; cook till the pressure is released 3 times (3 whistles). Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Puree the soup in a blender and pass it through a strainer. Return the soup to the pan and heat gently. Add stock to get the desired consistency. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Spring Vegetable Soup

spring-vegetable-soup

Time taken: 20 minutes

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

For vegetable stock- 2 medium onions (chopped), 1 medium leek (chopped), 1 medium carrot (chopped), 1 bay leaf tied with 1 large sprig of parsley, 1 small piece of bottle gourd (chopped) For soup- 2 onions (cut into cubes), 2 potatoes (cut into cubes), 2 leeks (cut into cubes), 2 tbsp butter, 1 spring onion with greens (finely chopped), 100gm carrots (chopped), 100gm cauliflower (chopped), 100gm asparagus (chopped), 100gm shelled green peas, 5-6 French beans (chopped), 1 cup vegetable stock, ½ cup fresh cream or milk, 3-4 tbsp grated cheese, salt, pepper, crusty garlic and herb bread (to serve)

Directions:

For vegetable stock- Pour 6 cups water in a pressure cooker, add the stock ingredients, and pressure cook till the pressure is released 3 times (3 whistles). Cool and discard the parsley and bay leaf. Puree the ingredients, pass through a strainer and set aside. For soup- Cook onions, potatoes and leeks along with 6 cups water in a pressure cooker till soft. Puree in a blender, strain and set aside. In a pan, melt butter and fry onions, carrots, cauliflower, asparagus, green peas and French beans. Cover and cook until soft. Add the onion-potato puree and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and simmer until vegetables are cooked. Add cream, 2 tbsp cheese, salt and pepper. Serve hot, sprinkled with remaining cheese, and garlic and herb bread on the side.   So, Happy Cooking!