Around the Bowl

Soups of the world – Recipes from around the globe & some creations of my own


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Dal Shorba (Indian Lentil Soup) with Summer Veggies

Every now and then I find myself craving for a specific type of food and I always think it is my body speaking to me, telling me I’m in need of some kind of nutrient. Apparently, there’s no scientific support for this theory, since our cravings are totally tied to our eating patterns that are in turn more related to psychological mechanisms and cultural baggage than to actual physiological needs. In spite of it all, although I’m a science believer, I usually follow my impulses when it comes to food cravings. Particularly a couple of weeks ago, when I was strongly fancying lentils, and couldn’t think of a single bad thing about lentils nutritionally speaking.

I had had a dal dish pending in my “to try” list for ever so I went for a refreshing vegetarian one and totally loved it. *In case you’re wondering, dal means lentils, but for Indians the term is generic to lentils, dried beans, chickpeas, split peas both skinned and unskinned and split peas flours. Dal is an everyday source of protein for most Indians and it can be as soupy or as thick as desired. (*Source: Madhur Jaffrey. 2010. “Curry Easy” Ebury Press. pp. 178-179.)

Would you like to give it a try? It’s a great one pot complete meal!

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Curry Vegetable Soup with Tofu. Mediterranean-Chinese fusion

The other day I was in the mood for a very light meal and in much need of a little detox and I thought: why not a simple a vegetable soup?  just some in-season veggies and some stock, period. And I realised I have not posted a basic vegetable soup yet and it would be a good recipe to share. So I went to a little grocery store around the corner and came back home with what I found there; a mix of winter and spring vegetables plus something I already had at home.

However… I couldn’t help myself and I end up turning my Mediterranean vegetable soup into a Chinese-inspired dish by adding some curry powder, ginger and tofu, among other Chinese flavours, to the mix and the result was wonderful! Shall we take a look at it?

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Vietnamese Pho Chay – A Vegan Noodle Soup

Me a little obsessed with Asian food? nah… And yet another Asian dish…I’ve been wanting to cook Pho for a while and today was the day! It was my first time and surprisingly it doesn’t taste like any other Asian soup I’ve cooked before at its flavour it’s quite unique; the spices on the broth really make a difference.

The traditional Pho is made with beef stock and usually contains beef as well, but Chay is the veggie version of this soup, usually with tofu as the protein ingredient. The choice of vegetables was based on what I have at hand this time, but you could use broccoli and bok choy for instance. Would you like to try it? It’s a safe bet!


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Mercimek Çorba – Turkish Lentil Soup

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One year ago, my sweetheart and I have been to Istanbul and we immediately fell in love with the city! It was a place I had desired to visit for a long time, since I read “The Museum of Innocence” from the Turkish Nobel Prize winner Orham Pamuk, and I was not a bit disappointed when the dream came true, on the contrary, it was even better than I expected! I was totally overwhelmed by the beauty of its buildings, particularly by the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque), the hectic activity in its streets and in the Grand Bazar and the funky and grunge districts like Beyoglu and Kadiköy respectively.  By the way, The Museum of Innocence, does exists and is worth the visit if you have read the book, besides is located at the very charming bohemian district of Çukurcuma, full of antique shops.

Well, let’s get to the point now, the food was amazing too! Once you’ve tried a REAL kebab there, you’ll never feel the same about your local ones. Or baklava! I thought I didn’t like it until I had one piece in Istanbul. And it turned out that soup was a typical dish served everywhere, locals have it for breakfast or at any other time during the day. The most common ones were chicken and lentil soup, served with lemon wedges to season and lots of bread.

We ate very well almost everywhere, but a bit outside the most touristy areas, we found this pearl: Ciğerci Salih Usta restaurant (no website available, so I give you the address: İskender Paşa Mah. Şekerci Sok. No:6 ; Aksaray, Istanbul) that specialises in şiş (meat brochette) cooked in an in sight barbecue. They don’t serve any alcohol, but the ayran (a kind of buttermilk) was a great beverage option. The lentil soup was also delicious, in fact I enjoyed it that much, that a picture of it is the image I chose for my blog header.

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Ayran

When we came back, I immediately did my research for the Turkish lentil soup recipe, which resulted very simple but utterly delicious. This time I added some cabbage to the usual recipe, and really liked the result. My granny’s best friend was from Syria and taught her a lentil stew with cabbage that she kept on cooking for the rest of her life, so to me, lentils and cabbage are matching and dear flavours. Here we go with it!

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Chinese-style Shrimp and Tofu Soup

I love Chinese food, I simply do. I never been to China (yet, hopefully one day I will) but the best Chinese food I have tried was indeed while travelling. I experienced great Chinese food in Australia, they have amazing restaurants there covering quite a range of different regional gastronomy. I particularly and fondly remember this charming Chinese restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: the Old China Cafe http://www.oldchina.com.my/, where I tasted some excellent spicy soups in a very nice environment.

Old China Cafe-KL

Old China Cafe-Kuala Lumpur

I also have a very good memory of some Chinese restaurants in New York, specially a great dim sum buffet in Queens. Unfortunately there are not really good Chinese restaurants where I live but this fact encouraged me to do some research and start cooking my own Chinese food. I began many years ago and nowadays we usually have home-made Chinese at least once a week. There are a few Asian food stores in the area where I stock my pantry with the basics. Today I am sharing with you a Chinese-inspired soup that I have prepared for a light tasty supper, it is very easy to prepare and quick, here we go!

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