Indian Vegetable Soup

The local Indian restaurant serves an amazing tomato-based vegetable soup.  Oodles of string beans, chopped onions, and chunks of tomatoes and potatoes, with only a hint of heat,  I was never able to put my finger on what exactly the background flavor was.  Until now!  The secret ingredient is ...

... chick pea flour!  Not only adding flavor, the starchy yet gluten-free flour adds thickening as it adds healthy.  Not exactly a staple in many U.S. households. You can pick up the chick pea flour (also known as besan) at any Indian grocer, health food store, or supermarket with a large health food or international sections.

Another unusual ingredient is (are?) curry leaves.  Nothing anything like curry powder, curry leaves give a unique bitter flavor (in a good way) to Indian dishes.   If you don't have a curry leaf plant in your home, the local Indian grocer should have a packet.  

Indian Vegetable Soup
Based on Manjula's Kitchen
Yield:  4 Servings

2 Tbl. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds (optional)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 Tbl. grated fresh ginger (or 1 tsp. ground ginger)
1/2 cup chick pea flour
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
8-10 curry leaves, depending upon size
4 cups of water
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. red chili powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 small carrot, cut into 1/4-inch coins
1 small potato cubed
1/2 cup green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large ripe tomato, diced
2 Tbl. Major Grey's Chutney
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, for garnish

Heat oil in a 3 or 4-quart saucepan over medium high heat.

Add fenugreek (if using).  Heat until the seeds crack, then add chopped onion.  Saute for 4-6 minutes or until onion softens.  Stir in ginger and curry leaves, stirring constantly for 30 seconds.

Reduce the heat to medium.  Add chick pea flour. Stir continually till the flour turns golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.  Slowly pour in the water, stirring continuously to avoid forming lumps.

Add turmeric, coriander, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, carrot, potatoes, green beans and tomato.

Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low.  Allow to simmer for 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are fork tender.  Stir in chutney, then let return to a simmer;  allow to simmer for another 8 minutes or until vegetable are tender.

Ladle into soup bowls.  Garnish with cilantro leaves just before serving.  Refrigerate leftovers, covered, up to 3 days.  Soup will thicken slightly as it cools.  When reheating, add up to a cup of water if too thick.


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