Spicy or mild, thick and creamy or liquid thin and flavourful, with pasta or full of veggies; the world of soups is amazing in its diversity. All they really need is fresh, good quality produce and time on a stove where it can happily simmer away.
Everyone knows that any good soup starts with a well made stock bursting with flavour. Here is a simple guide to an easy, tasty stock. If soup conjures up images of corn-floury, MSG laden, unhealthy concoctions, lay your fears to rest with this post from last year full of easy ways to make healthful, delicious broths.
When sheets of rain pours down all day leaving you shivering and wet, it’s time for soup. But not just any soup; on such days you need the piping hot and extra spicy kind of soup. The kind of soup that fortifies you, leaving you with a glow of warmth from the inside.
The place to begin such a soup journey has to be in Thailand where the clean, aromatic flavours of galangal, lemongrass and bird’s eye chilli is effectively enhanced by coconut milk. While these ingredients are chock full of nutrients that boost immunity, together they combine to season some of the world’s best food, starting with Tom Kha Gai. Light, fresh and fragrant, this classic Thai soup features shredded chicken and mushrooms in a sweet, sour and spicy broth. Cook a large pot of the soup and drink bowl after bowl as dinner.
Next stop is Mexico with its hearty, spicy fare that can be easily adapted into a soup. For instance, everything that goes into chilli con carne can be used in a Mexican inspired bean soup. Cook off the mince in spices as usual and add to a broth of the cooked kidney beans, tomato seasoned with garlic, paprika, ground cumin and coriander. Simmer the lot till the beans and meat is cooked in a thick stew like consistency. Curl up on the couch with a big bowlful of this soup topped with a spicy salsa and nachos.
Soondubu jjigae or soft tofu kimchi stew is a fiery broth from Korea that infuses custardy tofu with the deep flavor of kochujang. Traditionally served at the table boiling hot in its cooking vessel with an egg cracked in the middle, this healthy dish, full of vegetables and protein warms the belly and satiates the palate on cold, rainy nights.
While the Americans typically reserve pumpkin for use in pies and sweet dishes, its creamy mild flavour lends itself beautifully to being spiced with cumin, curry powder and chilli. When roasted and pureed, this spicy pumpkin makes for a truly delicious soup with a smoky, haunting flavour from the seasonings. Brighten it up with a generous dollop of coriander-chilli pesto and a squeeze of lemon juice and serve with toasted bread.
But when everything is said and done, there’s no place like home. A whiff of the peppery-puckerish rasam from South India is enough to drive away the blues. A thin broth made from a base of tomatoes and tamarind, rasam is infused with curry leaves, coriander and spices. A big bowl of garlic-pepper rasam served with rice and a generous dollop of ghee is delicious, comfort food. A perfect hug from the inside out on days spent rained in the house.