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Wellness consultant Naini Setalvad serves healthy soups to beat the monsoon blues

 
Nothing brings more ease in damp, dismal weather than a bowl of piping hot soup. This comforting beverage bursting with nutrition and flavour is the perfect meal you can consume in muggy weather. A bowl of healthy soup is manna in the monsoon. It boosts immunity and is packed with fibre essential for good health.

To your health!

Soup is the perfect choice for silvers who find it hard to chew food and are otherwise forced to compromise on nutrition. A majority of elders suffer from health ailments—hypertension, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, constipation, acidity, bloating—and tend to be anaemic. The wealth of ingredients in soup provides a healthy balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals to the body.

It ups the energy levels of silvers, helps them stay fit and is a wonderful way to balance your meal. Further, soup helps cleanse the sinus and digestive tract system and shed those extra pounds. Losing weight usually becomes a challenge for silvers; they feel hungry or deprived and find it difficult to reduce their food intake. Soup fills you up without adding to the calorie count. Having the right type of soup aids in weight loss, and offers you the option to order in a restaurant while eating out with friends or family.

V positive

Vegetable soup is your best choice—the fibre content helps in the smooth working of your bowels. It regulates the digestive system and maintains a healthy digestive tract. A soup containing vegetables is rich in antioxidants and helps cleanse your body from within. Try to incorporate vegetable soup in every meal during the monsoon.

Vegetables not only lend bright colours to the soup but are packed with nutrients that help to battle the ill-effects of pollution, stress and an unhealthy diet. In fact, onion, garlic, carrot, pumpkin, carrot, spinach, beetroot and tomato can turn a humble soup into a cancer-fighting weapon. Vegetables contain lycopene, beta-carotene and Vitamin E; all powerful and natural tools to prevent cancer cells from multiplying.

A meal in a bowl

Nutrition experts term soup a ‘versatile’ beverage. Whether you have a light broth-based soup to beat the monsoon gloom or a meaty meal to satiate your hunger, it hits the right spot. Make it creamy, chunky, smooth or rustic; have it bland for an upset stomach; or make it tangy for an appetiser—soup truly ticks all the boxes. Although it is often seen as an accompaniment to meals, with the right ingredients it can be a complete and healthy meal for you.

A soup encompasses an entire meal with small additions of carbohydrates, fats and proteins along with spices and condiments to enhance the flavour. Throw in some boiled green peas, kidney beans, chickpeas, mung dal, toor dal, edamame beans or lentils, or add cheese, paneer, tofu, yoghurt or similar options for an additional dose of health. Carbohydrates in the form of rice, potato, sweet potato, wholegrain bread, corn or barley kernels can also be added in small quantities to complement the flavour and turn a simple soup into a complete meal.

Another option is to thicken your soup by blending in fats in the form of coconut, almonds, pistachios, cashew nuts, ghee, extra virgin olive oil or butter as per your taste and choice. With nuts, you can avoid the use of white flour and cream for thickening; fats lend the soup a creamy and nutty texture. A few examples I can think of are my yummy bottle gourd soup and Singaporean Laksa soup, both brimming with coconut; spinach soup with coconut sautéed in ghee makes it even more delicious.

A soup need not be a soup by definition; rasam or vegetable broth is also a soup. Just sauté some vegetables in ghee, blend and puree them, add a dash of boiled rice and mung dal, garnish with coriander and grated coconut, squeeze fresh lemon on top and your healthy, vegetable broth is ready. For a small cost, you can make a meal that feeds the entire family; or make your impromptu guests feel full and healthy.

So the next time it starts pouring, just curl up on the couch and enjoy your favourite beverage. For added flavour, throw in some crusty bread and salad. Soups, with their myriad colours, flavours and textures, are truly cuisine’s kindest course.

HEALTHY SOUPS

CLEAR SOUP

 
Ingredients

For the stock

  • Lemongrass: ¾ cup
  • Green chilli: one
  • Bottle gourd: 30 gm; cubed

For the soup

  • Cabbage: 30 gm; finely chopped
  • French beans: 30 gm; chopped
  • Paneer: 30 gm; cubed
  • Pepper: 1 tsp; coarsely ground
  • Coriander leaves: ¾ cup; chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil: 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Lemon juice to taste

Method

Take 3 cups of water. Add lemongrass, green chilli and bottle gourd cubes to it and cook on low flame for 15 minutes. Strain the water and the stock is ready. Heat oil in a pan and sauté the beans and cabbage for 5 minutes. Add the stock and cook for five minutes. Add salt and coarsely ground pepper and paneer; remove from flame after a few minutes. Add lemon juice and coriander leaves and serve hot.

ONE-POT MINESTRONE SOUP

 
Ingredients

  • Vegetable broth: 6¼ cups
  • White or pink onion: half; diced
  • Garlic powder: ¼ tsp
  • Carrots: 4; peeled and sliced into thin rounds
  • Salt: a pinch
  • Black pepper: as per taste
  • Cucumber: 1 large; sliced into thin rounds
  • Green peas: 1 cup; frozen or fresh
  • Tomatoes; 1 cup, halved
  • Roasted tomatoes; 4-5; diced
  • Basil: 2 tsp; dried
  • Oregano: 2 tsp; dried
  • Jaggery powder (optional): 1 tsp; unrefined
  • Nutritional yeast: 2 tsp
  • Kidney beans (rajma): 1 cup; rinsed and drained
  • Spinach (or any healthy green): 1 cup
  • Fresh basil for serving

Method

Heat a large pan over medium heat and add ¼ cup of vegetable broth, onion and garlic powder. Sauté for 3-5 minutes until the onion turns translucent. Add carrots and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are slightly tender and vibrant orange. Add zucchini, green peas, cherry tomatoes, fire-roasted tomatoes, the remaining vegetable broth, basil, oregano, coconut sugar, nutritional yeast and white kidney beans and stir to combine. Increase heat to medium-high and bring the soup to a low boil; then, reduce heat slightly to medium-low and allow to simmer.

Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste the soup and adjust seasonings if needed. Add spinach and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the leaves wilt. To serve, pour soup in bowls and garnish with fresh basil. Serve hot.

TOMATO AND RED CAPSICUM SOUP

 
Ingredients

  • Tomatoes: 200 gm
  • Red capsicum: 200 gm
  • Black pepper: ¼ tsp; powdered
  • Red chilli powder: 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste

Method

Boil the tomatoes; cool and remove the peel. Roast the red capsicum on direct flame. Take it off the flame and scrape off the dark skin. Blend the tomatoes and capsicum together. Add salt, pepper, red chilli powder and a little water to the mixture. Cook again for 2 minutes and serve hot.

POINTED GOURD SOUP

 
Ingredients

  • Pointed gourd (parval): 500 gm
  • Almonds: 10; whole
  • Pistachios: 10; whole
  • Pepper: ¼ tsp; powdered
  • Salt to taste
  • Lemon juice to taste

Method

Peel the pointed gourd, cut and boil it. Ensure it is not overcooked. Soak the almonds and pistachios for 30 minutes. Peel the almond skin. Blend the gourd, almond and pistachios in a blender. Add salt, pepper and lemon to taste. Cook for 5 minutes and serve hot.

Setalvad is an obesity and lifestyle disease consultant who offers diet counselling at Health for You, a wellness clinic in Mumbai, as well as online. Visit www.nainisetalvad.com for more details or write to contact.us@harmonyindia.org if you have any queries for her

Photos: iStock
Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine
July 2018