Hero the Veg: Basic Single Vegetable Soups (Broccoli and Mushroom soups)

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At a very recent dinner at a friends house on a cold winter day, I was served soup as appetiser and it was simple and delicious. Off late most of my soups are the broths I make for dunking noodles into to make some sort of Ramen out of them. But just the joy of a plain mushroom soup reminded me how delicious and easy it is to make soup out of literally every vegetable and how it is also very easy to pack a punch of flavour into it.

So the next whole week I ate at least one vegetable soup every meal and may be for two meals to finally understand and write about how to make soups out of single vegetables. Just one vegetable as hero. And what little things can be added to each of them to really up the flavour and deliciousness of the soups.

We are talking 2 basic soups here: Broccoli and Mushroom (button)
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Broccoli Soup –
Ingredients: Makes 2 bowls

2 medium broccoli
1 tbsp ghee
1 sprig dill
750 ml water (and more if needed)
2-3 pinches pink salt
pepper to taste

1. Clean and chop the broccoli, stalks and stems and florets. if the broccoli is tender then chop them in the same size. Else chop the florets into larger pieces than the stalks. the stalks need to be pealed as the outer skin is tough and fibrous.
2. Add the ghee to the pan and add the broccoli. Stir and cook till tender.
3. Add the water and cook. Do not cover as that way you will loose the beautiful green colour.
4. Cook till the broccoli is almost mushy.
5. Use a hand blender to blend in the broccoli. Add a sprig of dil tied to a string and simmer till you achieve desired consistency. Once cooked remove the dill and add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Ladle the soup into bowls. When serving garnish with some fresh chopped dill. Serve with warm crusty bread with garlic and dill on top
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Tips and tricks
1. Broccoli cooks very quickly, so a little patience, cook on low flame and the colour is retained
2. Use a densely flavoured oil to first stir fry the broccoli before you add the water. Try a cold pressed sesame, coconut, extra virgin olive or mustard oil. Ghee it was for me.
3. Use smaller and more delicate broccoli’s, they are sweeter
4. Use the stem It adds body and depth of flavour. Just peal them.
5. Use a green herb to garnish. I used dill. They go well together.
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Mushroom Soup
Ingredients: Makes 2 bowls
400 gms button mushrooms
2-3 bay leaves
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 inch cube. butter
1 pinch. nutmeg
1/2 cup milk/ almond milk/ coconut milk
1-2 cloves garlic
500 ml mushroom stock/ vegetable stock/ water
salt and pepper to taste

1. Chop the mushrooms into 1 inch pieces. clean them thoroughly after chopping just to ensure absolutely no grit is left on them.
2. Add the oil in a pan. Choose a big pan because mushrooms don’t cook too well if crowded in a pan. They tend to sweat too much too soon.
3. Once the oil is heated, add the butter and diced/chopped/ minced garlic and bay leaves. Stir on low flame and do not let the garlic brown. After a minute or so add the chopped mushrooms and stir.
4. Slowly the mushrooms will sweat a bit and cook through. Once cooked let it cool for some time.
5. Remove the bay leaves and add the nutmeg. Blend it in a liquidiser jar with water till smooth.
6. To get the most creamy texture, run the blended mushroom puree through a fine sieve.
7. Bring the mixture back to a boil after adding the milk and water. Season to taste. serve with a wedge of lime.

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Tips and tricks
1. Cook the mushrooms till they are perfectly tender.
2. Use a liquidiser for this soup. A hand held blender will not be the best
3. Garlic, bay leaf and nutmeg/ cinnamon and you are sorted. No need to scamper about for some thyme for this.
4. Just a dash of milk, no cream at all.
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Carrot Top-ped, nothing funny about this one

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A white rabbit with an orange carrot and we all think of Alice in Wonderland and childhood attempts at finding the rabbit hole.

Come winters and carrots flood the market. All 3 colours, orange, red and black. Sometimes the yellow ones as well. In india one of the most sought after winter desserts is carrot halwa. Carrots slow cooked in milk for upto 3-4 hours and finished off with some dry fruits, ghee and cardamom and a dash of sugar. Most households don’t make it anymore. The corner sweet shop caters to this childhood nostalgia.

Not to forget the love for carrot cake though. Slathered with a generous cream cheese topping and warm cups of tea. I use a small carrot always in my fresh tomato soup, or tomato pasata. It adds some sweetness which masks sour tomatoes if any.

While we all know that carrots are a rich source of beta carotene and vitamin A, carrots can be a boring vegetable, especially if you plan to feed the children or the carnivores who don’t find vegetables interesting at all. I am not a carnivore, neither a child but this vegetable I only enjoy, combined with my orange juice in the morning, carrot cake loaves or sometimes like this Roasted Baby Carrots with Herbed Yogurt Dressing with the flavours of dil all the way

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Roasted Baby Carrots with Herbed Yogurt Dressing

1/2kg          baby carrots
4-5             cloves garlic
1bunch      fresh dil (I love dil, especially with roasted potatoes)
2tbsp         olive/ sunflower/sesame oil
2tbsp         lemon juice
1pinch       salt
1cup           greek yoghurt

  1. Wash and clean the carrots. I hate grit in the mouth and therefore I keep the heads with the leaves on only if the baby carrots are from my own vegetable patch, freshly uprooted and cleaned. If brought from the market I remove all the greens. Here too the baby carrots are whole (sans any greens), they have not been beheaded and they have been very thoroughly washed.
  2. Prep the carrots. Spread the carrots on a large tray (line the tray with parchment if not using a non-stick tray). Drizzle oil, lemon juice and mix it all on the tray, ensuring that the carrots are coated with the oil and the lemon juice. Sprinkle a few sprigs of dil and garlic on the tray
  3. Roast the carrots. Put the tray on the top shelf of the oven at 190 degree centigrade and roast for upto 40 minutes. The outer skin on the carrots will shrivel and will make them sweeter.
  4. Prepare the dressing. Mince the roasted garlic from the carrot tray into the yoghurt. Chop finely a handful of dil and add to the yoghurt. Season with a pinch of salt.
  5. Serve. Tumble the roasted carrots on a platter, I used a wooden slab. Pour the dressing on top of the carrots and enjoy.

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