Four dinner soups to balance your festive eating | festivals are not the time to fall off your health wagon...

Diwali is grand affair for most people with loads of rich food, sugary treats, gifts and decorations. We wait for another festive season after diwali with the Christmas and new year approaching. The general sense of well being is enhanced many folds during festivals in most people and they start hoarding more and more food that is considered festive traditionally. Now the traditional festive food had also got multiplied many folds thanks to the world getting smaller and smaller and we know tempting foods from all over the world and want to try them for special days. People now make cheesecakes, cupcakes and cookies for Diwali in addition to the laddoo and Shakkarparey and end up eating most of the stuff. Most of the people who arrange and cook a lot of stuff on festivals eat more in order to justify their enthusiastic arrangements for the festival. Not at all the right reason to stuff sugary foods in your system.

Tell me if it rings a bell. And tell me if you are thinking of the sins that come with Christmas season in advance.

I believe we should just arrange or cook as much stuff as we can consume in a saner manner. And buy some more separately to distribute to the destitute and needy around us. A separate budget for distributing it for a good cause would fill the festivals with a nice sense of achievement.

Also along with a few festive desserts that are made at home using top quality healthy ingredients, include a few meals that help balance the heavy indulgences.

Just think why most festive foods are desserts. Aren't they easy quick fixes for a feeling of high that feeds the urge to have more and more of those sugar bombs and generally making us feel good during the festivals?

Wouldn't you like some seasonal vegetables to make appearance on the table as well? Cooked in a way that it helps balance out the festive act (or overact)? Here are two of my favorite soups that I cook for dinners on normal days but make a point to include in any one meal possible in festive days as well.

1. Barley, Red lentil and Broccoli soup laced with Ajwain...
a full bodied chunky soup with a crunchy freshness of vegetables. Coriander greens and ajwain makes it a great soup to help detox.

(2 servings)

broken barley grits (or whole pearl barley) 2 tbsp
red lentils 3 tbsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp
roughly chopped broccoli 1 cup
roughly chopped cauliflower 1 cup
chopped coriander greens 1 cup
minced ginger 1 tbsp
Ajwain seeds 1 tsp or use a mix or Oregano and thyme generously
salt to taste
butter 2 tsp or as you like


Pressure cook the barley grits and red lentils together with 2.5 cups of water, salt to taste and turmeric powder.

Add the chopped vegetables to the cooked mixture and give it a boil for 5 minutes. Finish with Ajwain seeds or the herbs if using and the chopped coriander greens.

Serve hot with a dollop of butter.

2. bottle gourd, potato and tomatoes in a chunky soup ..
A nice and light soup that has a tangy flavor due to tomatoes. A great detox recipe if taken on it's own.

a tender bottle gourd of around 500-600 gm weight
2 large tomatoes
one large potato unpeeled if the skin is unblemished
minced ginger and green chilies 2 tsp each or to taste
minced garlic 1 tsp
turmeric powder 1/ tsp
cumin and black pepper powder 1 tsp each
chopped coriander greens 2-3 tbsp or more
ghee 1 tbsp

Peel and chop the bottle gourd and large chunks. Tomatoes and potatoes to be cut in chunks too.

Heat the ghee in pressure cooker and tip in all the minced ginger,garlic green chilly and the powder spices together, followed by the cubed potatoes. Toss and let cook till they all sizzle.

Add the tomatoes, cubed bottle gourd and salt to taste. Add a cup of water and pressure cook till the whistle blows. Add the coriander greens when you open the lid and mash the cooked vegetables a bit.

Serve hot as it is or with a thin slice of toasted bread.

3. Fenugreek and dill greens in a kadhi soup...
A regular kadhi with aromatic Fenugreek and Dill, one of the most lovely combination of greens and herbs, very comforting in winters...


chickpea flour or besan 3 tbsp
sour curds 1/2 cup or buttermilk 1 cup
tejpatta 2 leaves
chopped fenugreek greens 1.5 cup packed
chopped dill greens 3/4 cup packed
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
dry red chilies 2
2-3 cloves
2-3 petals of star anise
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
one green cardamom and one black cardamom crushed
ghee 1 tbsp


Whip the sour curds with equal amount of water to make thin buttermilk if using.

Mix the besan (chickpea flour) with turmeric powder and 1/2 cup buttermilk  and whip it smooth. Add 3 cups of water and mix well, pour into a wide pan and let it boil. Add the salt and tejpatta and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. Keep stirring in between.

Meanwhile, heat the ghee in a pan, tip in the whole spices and dry red chilies broken. Let them all sizzle for a second then add the chopped fenugreek leaves and a little salt. Stri fry for a couple of minutes till the greens wilt and then add the dill greens too. Cook for another minute and take off flame.

Add the wilted/cooked greens to the simmering kadhi in the last couple of minutes before taking it off heat. Mix well and serve hot topped with a tsp of ghee if desired.

4. Turnip and spinach soup....
a creamy spicy soup with deep flavors for cold winter nights..


turnips (preferably blushing turnips, those with a purple skin) 500 gm
tomatoes 300 gm
spinach 300 gm
minced garlic and ginger 2 tsp each
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
cumin and black pepper powder 1 tsp each
red chilly powder 1/4 tsp (optional)
olive oil or mustard oil 2 tsp
butter as required


Heat the oil in a pressure cooker pan and tip in the minced ginger-garlic and powdered spics. Tip in the chopped Turnips as the spice mix sizzles. Toss and let them coat well and get lightly cooked for about 2-3 minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes and mix well, toss and cook till the tomatoes get mushy.
Add the chopped spinach, toss and mix well. Add a cup of water, close the lid and cook till the first whistle blows. It makes a nice stew this way and can be had as it is..

Blend to make a thick creamy soup with a stick blender or in a food processor and strain it. Heat again and serve hot with a dollop of butter. This soup tastes great on it's own or a garlic bread. I like it with our Makki ki roti (griddle baked flat breads made using Cornmeal) or Bajre ki roti (millet flat bread).

The sweetness of turnips gets balanced really well with spinach and tomatoes. This soup reheats well and keep well in the fridge too.


  1. yummilicious and lipsmacking healthy nutritious soups.

  2. SOUPS are always healthy and fills body requirement.


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