Finishing my series on soup, I am switching from vegetable to lentil based soup this week by making Toor Dal Soup.

Toor Dal Soup

A special blend of Indian spices complement this vegetarian Toor Dal Soup recipe. Carrot and tomatoes are added for color and texture and make it delicious.

One of the most popular lentils in Indian cuisine is toor or red gram, even though it takes longer to cook than other lentils. It has a tan skin with a pale yellow pea inside. The meaty, nutty texture is perfect for spicy dishes. When its skin is removed and split in half it is called toor dal. In the U.S. it is sometimes called pigeon peas.

Toor dal cooks in about a half hour. I simply put it in a pan with some water and simmer until the dal is tender. If it isn’t fully cooked, it will yield a lumpy or gritty soup. To see if the dal is done, press a few lentils between your fingers. If they squish without resistance, it is done.

While the dal cooks, I season some olive oil in a pot with an assortment of Indian spices. In this oil, onion, garlic and tomato are cooked until they fall apart and become a thick paste. When the dal is ready, it is added to the pot and mixed well. I add a cup of water to loosen consistency so I can use my immersion blender to purée it. After it becomes smooth, add more water to reach your desired consistency.

I add a thinly sliced cooked carrot to the soup for color, variety and just for fun. I like finding vegetables that are hidden in my soup.

This vegetarian Toor Dal Soup can be served at lunch or dinner as the main dish with a piece of naan or as a starter with dinner. It is a warm treat on a cold day.

It appears that I have started a series of recipes for soups so I am sharing my Spinach Soup recipe this week. I am cooking soup recipes that are hearty but do not need heavy cream or a lot of oil to make them taste good. Now that the weather has dropped 25 degrees from highs in the high 90s, soup season is finally here!

Spinach Soup

A special blend of Indian spices complement this vegetarian Spinach Soup recipe. The main ingredients of spinach and a potato make it creamy and delicious.

I start making my Spinach Soup by seasoning just a little bit of olive oil with select Indian spices: mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon and, of course, red Madras chile powder.

I cook the onion, garlic and potato in this oil until they are tender then add vegetable broth. When the broth is hot, I add the spinach one handful at a time until all of it is tender. Using an immersion blender, I purée the soup.

The finished soup is topped with a pinch of dry roasted cumin seeds before it is served.

The potato, as well as the spinach itself, make this Spinach Soup recipe creamy. It is a healthy and easy recipe to make.

I serve this vegetarian soup at lunch with a piece of French bread or as a starter at dinner. My mother in law loves this soup; I hope you do too.

I started working on the concept for an Indian-styled Roasted Pumpkin Soup a year ago. By the time, I had enough of the recipe written, Thanksgiving was over and the fresh pumpkins had disappeared from the store. I was so disappointed all last winter that I couldn’t finish the recipe but I wasn’t inclined to try using canned pumpkin. I had to put it away for nearly a year until I discovered the new crop of fresh pumpkins a few weeks ago.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Incorporating Indian spices with roasted pumpkin is a perfect match. Roasted Pumpkin Soup features vegetables, roasted spices and coconut milk.

This recipe uses a whole 4- to 5-pound pie or sugar pumpkin and roasts it in the oven. I simply cut it in half, oil it and cook it in the oven until it is tender. I love the pumpkin aroma that fills the house while it cooks! When it is done, it is easily pierced with a fork and some parts of the pumpkin may seem to cave in.

While it cools, I prepare the base for the soup by frying chopped shallots, garlic, ginger and green chiles then adding roasted ground cumin and roasted red chile powder in addition to other spices, the roasted pumpkin, vegetable broth and coconut milk. Roasting the spices first helps to enrich their flavors. I use an immersion blender to blend everything together so it is smooth and creamy.

The final step is to create the special seasonings that are used as a garnish. In Indian cuisine, spices are fried in hot oil and stirred into a dish just before serving it. This step is called tempering. In my Roasted Pumpkin Soup, I temper the spices along with a few curry leaves and pour them on top of the soup as a garnish.

My Roasted Pumpkin Soup is delicious for lunch or dinner as it has a rich flavor but isn’t spicy hot. It is a great recipe for vegetarian or vegan meals.

Now that the weather is getting cooler, soups are back on my menu. This week I am featuring my Cranberry Bean Soup. When I mentioned to my husband that I was making Cranberry Bean Soup, he was very confused. He thought I was using fresh cranberries and thought that would make a very odd soup. After I told him that cranberry beans are beans, not fruit, he was very happy to eat this soup for dinner.

Cranberry Bean Soup

Cranberry Bean Soup is an easy to make vegetarian recipe with light Indian spices for a healthy lunch or dinner on a cold day. Also called borlotti beans.

Cranberry beans are one of the most underutilized beans in the U. S. They are very popular in Italian cuisine for their mild, creamy and nutty flavor. There, they are called borlotti beans and are found in many soups, casseroles and salads.

Cranberry beans look like red kidney beans except they are white with dark red spots when dried and turn dark pink when boiled. Cranberry beans are highly nutritious, rich in fiber and packed with protein.

Cranberry beans should be soaked to reduce the cooking time. I simply put them in a bowl of water and let them soak overnight.

To make this vegetarian soup, the onions are cooked in oil that is seasoned with a bay leaf. Garlic, tomato, fresh green chile and dried spices are added next to build the flavor base. The beans and broth are added next and simmer until the beans are tender. This takes about an hour or more.

The next step is to purée the soup so it is creamy. The soup can be purée in a blender or using a handheld immersion blender. A traditional blender yields a creamier texture but the immersion blender is less work and requires less clean up.  Before blending the soup, I remove some of the beans to add back later for variety in texture. This is an optional step. Just before serving, I add some freshly chopped cilantro.

Cranberry Bean Soup makes a fantastic main dish for lunch or dinner on a cold day along with a few pappads or a hot, fresh paratha. It is also a great starter for any meal.

For another recipe that features cranberry beans, check out Cranberry Bean Masala.

After learning about how healthy barley is for your body, I had to find more ways to include it in my recipes. It is loaded with fiber, protein and essential nutrients so I find that I stay full for a long time when I eat it. I love its mild flavor and chewy texture. It was only natural that I include it in a soup recipe.

Curried Vegetable Barley Soup

Curried Vegetable Barley Soup is based on a traditional recipe but is enhanced with pearled barley and Indian spices to make a healthy and tasty soup.

My Curried Vegetable Barley Soup recipe is based on the traditional recipe but is enhanced with pearled barley and spices. The barley is boiled in the broth so it absorbs flavor as well as water. I use my favorite vegetables, cauliflower, green beans, tomatoes, carrots and potatoes, all chopped into bite sized pieces. The broth is flavored with a homemade curry powder mixture made with coriander, cumin, turmeric, chile powder, fenugreek and fennel. To save time I use spices that are already ground rather than grinding them fresh. The spice mixture adds a combination of rich, exotic flavor with a tiny bit of heat. To make the soup even healthier than it already is, I add a cup of chopped kale during the last steps to add color and texture.

This Curried Vegetable Barley Soup is so full of vegetables and flavor that I serve it simply with a toasted buttered naan on the side. My husband likes to dip the bread into the soup to soak up every last bit of flavor. This is one of his favorite soups. It is delicious.

As the weather begins to turn cold, I start thinking about serving my tasty and hearty Wintery Vegetable Soup that warm from the inside. Using fresh pumpkin from our local crop, I created a thick soup with carrots, parsnips and pumpkin.

As I usually try to sneak a few extra vegetables in my recipes to make my soups healthier, I included fresh carrots for their bold color and sweet flavor. I discovered carrots’ cousin, parsnips years ago when I first started working in the food industry. They add thickness to soups as well as a delicate sweet flavor. All of these vegetables come together to make a rich, delicious soup.

My spice mixture is a blend of aromatic Indian and Moroccan spices with cumin, coriander, bay leaf and turmeric, enhanced with a bit of chile powder for a tiny bit of heat. The spices are subtle so they do not overpower the soup.

The vegetables are cooked in the spices and, when tender, blended until smooth and creamy. The amount of blending is based on personal preference. Some people like a perfectly puréed soup but I like to leave a few small chunks of the vegetables so you know what you are eating.

When the soup is ready, I stir in some chopped cilantro and brighten the flavor with a bit of lemon juice.

Wintery Vegetable Soup, made with pumpkin, carrots and parsnips, is prepared with an aromatic Indian and Moroccan spice mix and puréed until rich and creamy.

Wintery Vegetable Soup, made with pumpkin, carrots and parsnips, is prepared with an aromatic Indian and Moroccan spice mix and puréed until rich and creamy.

Try this soup tonight. It is very nutritious and low in calories. Enjoy!

Now that fall is here, hot and spicy soups are back on the menu. I have started the season with my Mulligatawny Soup with Chicken and Ramen Noodles. The soup is spicy hot due to its origin. Mine is as well. The word mulligatawny came from the Tamil word milagu-tannir which means pepper water. (Milagu means pepper, and tanni means water.)

Mulligatawny Soup

Mulligatawny Soup with Chicken and Ramen Noodles

Mulligatawny Soup was originally an Anglo-Indian recipe made with a thin broth, spices and onion. It traveled to England during the British rule of India and was modified to add chicken or lamb to accommodate the European dietary preferences. Specific ingredients differ based on the cook’s preferences.

Some recipes incorporate leftover rice. I have added Japanese ramen noodles because I have loved eating these long wiggly noodles since I was in college and starting out on my own. Ramen noodles are normally eaten in broth or soup with a few vegetables. They are made with wheat, like other noodles, but have a special alkaline mineral in the water that makes them stand up better than other wheat noodles.

My recipe starts by tempering the oil with garlic, ginger and many different spices. I add julienned carrots, chopped onion, sliced leeks and fresh peas as well as chicken breast pieces that have been cut into tiny pieces. The broth is thickened with a small amount of roasted chickpea flower, besan, which gives the soup a creamy look. It also adds high quality protein to the soup. After the soup has had time to simmer, I add the ramen noodles and lime juice.

Mulligatawny Soup is a great option for a week night dinner. It is full of flavor and very satisfying. Serve freshly fried pappads on the side. My husband likes to crunch his into bits then put them into his soup!

The other day my husband came home from work and informed me that it was mandatory that his team members prepare some chili for a chili cook-off fundraiser. The previous week I had declined to participate since I was in the middle of major renovations at my mother’s house and wouldn’t be home during the day and had my work to do in the evenings.

 

Someone who was trying to be helpful found a peculiar recipe on the Internet with shredded chicken and cooked rice that is added to tomato sauce and seasoned with a spoonful of curry powder. That sounded absolutely dreadful! I was asked for my opinion of this recipe from one of his team members and I panicked! How do I say, in a tactful manner, that there was no way I would put something like that in my mouth? Instead I offered to create a new recipe for them.

 

I immediately went to work and, a few hours later, had a draft of an Indian Chili recipe in hand. Of course, a recipe on paper may not work; without a few trials the seasonings and ratios will not be correct. I couldn’t give it to an unsuspecting and, potentially, non-cooking team member to prepare. What could I do? I volunteered to make the chili recipe.

 

I started soaking all of my small red beans over night. These beans look like red kidney beans but are a fraction of the size and have a firm texture and buttery flavor. They are among my favorite beans to use in cooking. I planned to make two batches so I would have a backup in case the seasonings didn’t turn out the way I wanted. The next morning, after I started boiling them, I learned that I needed three gallons of chili! Panic time started – I needed more red beans! My darling husband told me he would run to the store and buy more and then start soaking them during his lunch break. (If he had failed to start the beans soaking at noon, I could have used my pressure cooker or increased the boiling time.) Fortunately for me, he delivered on his promise and bought two large bags of beans (enough to last a year) and started the soaking process.

 

After eight hours of late night cooking up six batches of Indian Vegetarian Chili with Small Red Beans recipe, the chili was finally finished. My feet were tired and my house had taken on a strong aroma of eau de chili. Everything was prepared, packaged and refrigerated.

 

Vegetarian Indian Chili with Small Red Beans

Vegetarian Indian Chili with Small Red Beans

My husband and his team shared this chili at the cook-off the next day. Through a lot of hard work by his team to prepare the booth including purchasing a tent, finding matching aprons, printing signs that extoll the chili’s health benefits and locating several slow cookers to heat the chili, the cook-off was a success. All of my chili disappeared.

 

Booth with mad scientists serving up Vegetarian Chili with Red Beans at Chili Cook-off

Booth with mad scientists serving up Vegetarian Chili with Red Beans at Chili Cook-off

 

The team of mad scientists serving up Indian Chili with Small Red Beans.

The team of mad scientists serving up Indian Chili with Small Red Beans.

 

Since my recipe did not have meat but did have beans, it was judged in the curry category. I don’t know why, but it doesn’t really matter since it is spiced like a curry and could vaguely be considered to be a really thick, chunky curry. From what I hear the competition was very rigorous but we won 3rd place. Not bad for a novice chili chef.

 

Trophy awarded to the Vegetarian Chili with Red Beans recipe

Trophy awarded to the Vegetarian Chili with Red Beans recipe

 

As the temperature reaches 100 degrees I am making as many light, healthy and easy meals as possible. Today I made a delicious cold tomato soup recipe that is based on my traditional gazpacho recipe but it has been enhanced with Indian spices that I roasted before adding to the soup to bring out the unique flavors that the spices acquire when heated. The spices are a custom blend of mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. The flavors develop on your palate as you taste the soup. At first you taste the cumin followed by the cinnamon and ending with the cloves. The flavors blossom just like the flavors in a fine wine or whisky.

Making this recipe is very simple. Just chop the vegetables, roast the spices and mix. All of the work is done in a food processor so it is ready in no time at all. The hardest part of making my Spiced Gazpacho recipe is to let it chill in the refrigerator long enough to let the spices develop. I tend to sneak a bowl for myself as soon as everything is mixed together.

I have created this recipe so it is not hot from the chiles. I used just half of a Serrano pepper with the seeds removed and 1/4 teaspoon of red chile powder. You might enjoy doubling these ingredients to have a bit of heat to your soup. Adding more heat is a great way to bring out more flavors.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. I serve it with fresh baguettes or focaccia that can be dunked into the soup. It is great as the main course for lunch or as a starter for dinner.

 

Summer Spiced Gazpacho


Spiced Gazpacho Soup recipe Indian style

Spiced Gazpacho Soup recipe Indian style


 6 large Roma tomatoes, cored
1 hothouse cucumber
1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded
1/2 Serrano pepper, seeded
1 small red onion
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 cup tomato juice
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp red chile powder
chopped cilantro, for garnish
Seasonings:
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves


1. Roast the Seasoning spices in a small dry skillet over low heat. When the aroma starts to rise after a minute or two, remove from the heat and let cool.

2. Coarsely chop the tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, Serrano pepper, garlic and red onion.

3. Put the tomatoes, cucumber, and bell peppers separately into the food processor and pulse until evenly chopped. Chop the tomatoes finer than the other vegetables. Transfer each vegetable to a large bowl after processing.

4. Put the Serrano pepper, garlic and onion together in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add them to the bowl. Stir to blend.

5. Add the olive oil, vinegar, tomato juice, salt, pepper, paprika, chile powder and the roasted Seasoning spices. Add more tomato juice if a smoother texture is desired. Mix well then refrigerate for a few hours. Garnish with a bit of freshly chopped cilantro before serving.

 

Enjoy!


I picked my favorite Creamy Carrot Soup recipe for the Indian Recipe of the Month. Since the U.S. is experiencing a massive heat wave this summer, I wanted to pick a recipe that is not only healthy and easy to make but can be served cold. Based on a traditional western recipe, this South Indian recipe is mildly spiced with ginger, turmeric, chile powder and the secret ingredient, saffron. It is a great pick for a light vegetarian lunch or a healthy start to any meal.

 

Creamy Carrot Soup is a vegetarian delight that blends Indian spices with healthy vegetables.

Creamy Carrot Soup is a vegetarian delight that blends Indian spices with healthy vegetables.

 

Find my recipe: Creamy Carrot Soup. Enjoy!
 

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