The much awaited rains are finally here! The cool breeze, the sweet smell of the wet earth and the pleasant change in the atmosphere are the best parts of an Indian monsoon. Along with that comes the instinctive desire for hot, comforting foods that are easy to make yet deliver on taste. As the season progresses, it becomes easy to lose that precious joy in the traffic jams, mucky roads, water-logging and the inevitable sniffles that accompany rains. But the one dish that is sure to charm those blues away is a mug or bowl of piping hot, delicious, aromatic soup. They are a breeze to prepare, wholesome and uniquely soul warming. This season, let the varied range of soup classics from across the world inspire that perfect bowl of soup.
The Chinese have perfected the art of light, healthy and flavorful soups which are nothing like the corn-floury, thick stodgy soups often passed off as Chinese. Instead, try this Chinese noodle soup. Simmer veggies like shiitake mushrooms, boy choy and carrots in a basic chicken stock with sliced ginger, salt and pepper. Add cooked noodles and season with a garlic or chilli oil. It makes for a filling, one dish meal on a rainy night.
Looking for something more tangy and spicy, yet equally nourishing? Give the Italian minestrone a shot. Chockful of flavour from the fresh herbs and vegetables, this soup will easily uplift the weariest spirits. Serve it with toasted garlic bread on the side and store the leftovers for another lazy rainy afternoon.
On a dreary grey day, few dishes comfort better than Vietnamese phở (pronounced "fuh" not "foe"). Each bowl is restorative to a cold while providing the perfect pick-me-up. The aromatic broth, slippery rice noodles, and fresh, customizable garnishes create a wonderful interplay of textures and flavors. Gather the family together and sit down to lunch with this delicious soup.
The French have the last word on amazing food, even the often over-looked soup. Try this for a weekend afternoon project. Slice a large amount of onions and chuck them into a pot with butter and salt to caramelize while watching the latest flick on TV. Stir it occasionally and when deep mahogany in colour, add stock and heat till it boils. Simmer and season with salt and lots of fresh black pepper. In the meantime, heap grated cheese on thick slices of bread and grill till the cheese is melty. Serve it hot with a big bowl of soup and watch the treetops washed by the rain.
Each of these soups rely on good quality stock or broths. On a weekend, put chicken bones, onions, carrots, celery, bay leaf and peppercorns in a pot to simmer. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze for later use. Make sure to use fresh vegetables for optimum flavour and nutrition. Upgrade a simple bowl of soup with herb garnishes, flavoured oils, grilled sandwiches or buttered rolls. A large batch of soup can easily be stored in the fridge for later use on a busy work night.
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