There’s a nip in the air, red carrots are in season, and you can already smell the ghee and garlic tadka on your sarson ka saag … winter is here! And as we are in smack in the middle of the post-Diwali, pre-Christmas season, giving our systems a boost with a healthy bowlful is much needed – think of it as a little reset between festive indulgences.
Soups and stews are a great way to make use of the season’s produce, while packing in nutrition and fibre. And contrary to popular perception, you don’t need to add a thickener like corn starch (we’ve all encountered one too many a gloopy soup), or oodles of butter and cream to make a rich, silky soup. With more people eschewing dairy for a variety of reasons, from lactose intolerance/bloating to ethics, vegan soups are becoming more commonplace (a quick search on the ‘gram will throw up more than 200k posts).
Aromatics, root vegetables and grains, blended with plant mylks, offer up luscious vegan soups that are thick and creamy, without the dairy. And, they stand on their own as filling, nutrient-dense dishes for lunch or dinner, as our three contributors show us!
PUMPKIN COCONUT CHILI LIME SOUP
Who: Surabhi Sehgal, @supaintsonplates
A food stylist and recipe developer based in Gurgaon, Surabhi is originally from Dehradun and grew up in a home where food was loved and celebrated. An English graduate, she lived and worked in six countries before settling in the National Capital Region. Over the past four years, she has been blogging and curating content under the moniker Su Paints On Plates, working with brands and restaurants to craft recipes, and photographing and styling them. Oh, and she also happens to be Instagram’s resident hummus-queen.
Food philosophy: Surabhi entered the kitchen pretty early on, cooking under the guidance of her grandmother. The one rule she follows? To cook with complete love and honesty while respecting each ingredient. Even with a range of imported ingredients available at gourmet stores, Surabhi believes in eating local and seasonal. In a nutshell – “Eat simple, eat local and eat the rainbow.”
The inspiration behind the recipe: “The idea was to create an extremely healthy, vegan and gluten-free recipe, while making it
Pumpkin coconut chili lime soup by Surabhi Sehgal, a food stylist, and recipe developer based in Gurgaon.
fun and interesting. I find that many people think plant-based recipes are boring and monotonous – but this recipe should change that perception. Here, pumpkin soaks up all the flavours from the Thai aromatics and the coconut cream makes it luscious, silky and dreamy.”
· 1.5 cups pumpkin, cubed
· 1 onion, chopped
· 4-5 cloves of garlic
· 3-4 Kaffir lime leaves
· Small piece of galangal
· 1 stalk of lemongrass
· 3 cups of vegetable stock
· 1/4 tsp of fresh turmeric, grated
· Birds’ eye chillies, to taste
· Salt to taste
· Juice of 1/2 lime
· 2 tbsp coconut cream
· 1 tbsp vegetable oil
· Heat a heavy bottomed pot.
· Add oil, onions and garlic. Sautè until translucent.
· Add pumpkin cubes and grated turmeric.
· Cover and cook on a low flame for 20 minutes or until soft.
· Add vegetable stock and simmer.
· Remove from stove and let the soup cool.
· Once cool, blend the soup to a fine consistency.
· Transfer the soup back to the heavy bottomed pot.
· Add lightly pounded lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, birds’ eye chillies and salt.
· Cover and simmer the soup until it thickens.
· Remove all the aromatics from the soup with the help of a spatula or simply strain the soup.
· Bring to a gentle simmer and add the coconut cream and lime juice.
· Mix well and serve immediately.
Vegan carrot soup by Purvi Shah, a professional food photographer and stylist born and raised in Pune.
EASY VEGAN CARROT SOUP
Who: Purvi Shah, @iampurvishah
Purvi is a professional food photographer and stylist born and raised in Pune. She has been following a vegan lifestyle for the past six years and has spent her time in the kitchen creating vegan versions of popular desi favourites (especially mithai) and is constantly improvising with ingredients to put a vegan spin on hearty meals for her followers. She also specialises in Jain and Sattvic cuisine.
Food philosophy: An ethical vegan, Purvi believes in living a balanced and compassionate lifestyle. As her relationship with food has changed over the years, she cooks intuitively using easily available ingredients. The thought is simple – the food on one’s plate should be nourishing and make one’s body, mind and soul happy.
The inspiration behind the dish: “I wanted to create a vibrant dish using in-season produce. The added step of roasting the carrots and bell peppers brings out their sweetness and adds another depth of flavour. Combined with warming ginger, garlic and paprika, it makes for a cosy winter supper, with some added crunch from the roasted sesame seeds.”
· 3 medium carrots, chopped
· 1 red bell pepper, chopped
· 4 cloves garlic
· 3 spring onions, chopped
· 1 one-inch piece ginger, minced
· 1 tsp paprika powder
· 2 tbsp coconut cream
· Black pepper to taste
· Salt to taste
· 2 tbsp olive oil
· 3 cups water/vegetable broth
· Roasted black sesame seeds, for garnish
· Fresh oregano, for garnish
· Preheat the oven to 180 C. Place the chopped carrots, red pepper and 2 cloves garlic in a baking dish and drizzle over 1 tbsp olive oil along
with a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast until they are caramelised, about 40 mins. (The time may vary depending on your oven).
· In a large soup pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and add chopped onions, ginger and remaining 2 cloves garlic and sauté until golden brown.
· Add paprika powder and salt and sauté for a few seconds.
· Add the roasted carrots, red pepper and garlic to the pot and sauté for a minute more.
· Add water/vegetable broth and bring it to a boil. Then, let cool.
· Transfer everything to a blender and blend to a smooth puree.
· Add in coconut cream and stir well.
· Adjust for salt and black pepper.
· Garnish with roasted black sesame seeds and fresh oregano.
Who: Chef Marina Balakrishnan, @thatthalasserygirl
Marina is a certified plant-based chef, having trained at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York. Her gourmet sensibilities are rooted in her childhood in the Malabar and perfected by her technical expertise and chef’s training at restaurants. She staged at the Michelin-starred Indian-inspired Restaurant Gaa in Bangkok, and hosted pop-ups in Geneva and Italy before launching Oottupura, a Keralite vegetarian meal delivery service in Mumbai.
Food philosophy: For Marina, food is both healing and nourishing, and she places great importance on the energy of the food she prepares. Food, according to her, must be handled with mindfulness and awareness.
The inspiration behind the dish: “I’m always inspired by the Keralite traditional cuisine. This particular recipe is inspired from the Kerala ishtew.”
· 1/2 cup green moong
· 2.5 cups water
Hearty stew by Marina, a certified plant-based chef, trained at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York.
· 1/2 cup broken red rice
· 2 carrots, diced
· 2 cups sweet potato, diced
· 1 small bunch baby spinach
· 1/2 cup fresh coconut milk
· 1 tbsp ginger, slivered
· 3 dry red chillies
· Curry leaves
· 2 bay leaves
· 2 tsp peppercorns
· 3 cloves
· 1” cinnamon stick
· Wash the green moong beans and boil in 2.5 cups water adding salt. Cook for half hour until it’s soft.
· In a pot, place oil and when warm, season with spices and add in the diced vegetables and sauté for 7 to 8 minutes.
· Add the washed rice and bay leaves. Add in six cups water and cook it all on medium heat. Cover and cook for 45 minutes.
· Once soup is simmered and cooked well, add the cooked green mung beans.
· Add in chopped spinach and simmer it all for another 15 minutes.
· Once cooked, add in the coconut milk and switch off the flame.
· Add the seasoning of dry chillies and curry leaves.
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