Quick and wholesome vegetable soup

Mumbai with its hot and sultry climate for the better part of the year is not a place you’d associate with soup and soupy meals but I am a sucker for soups and love slurping them down as an evening meal even in the hottest of hot summers.

These past few days have seen some stormy evenings with heavy showers suddenly descending down unsuspecting Mumbaikars who have packed their rain gear away for the next monsoon. So if like me, you’ve been getting soaking wet every evening, then soup is the perfect option to keep those sneezes at bay.

I have developed a really easy peasy quick and wholesome vegetable soup that beats the convenience and comfort of Maggi /Knorr and any other packaged soup by a mile and more.


Ingredients for a quick and wholesome vegetable soup

These simple ingredients that are readily available in most homes are all that you need to make this quick and wholesome vegetable soup.


  • 1-2 tbspns olive oil or a dollop of butter
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup finely grated cauliflower
  • 1/3 cup minced french beans
  • 1/3 cup grated carrot
  • 2 heaped tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • water
  • milk/cream
  • freshly chopped coriander
  • Optional a few dashes of light Soya Sauce

Method :

Here’s what you have to do

  1. In a pot heat the oil/butter and add the onion. Stir quickly before adding the rest of the vegetables. Stir briskly on high heat for about a minute.
  2. Lower the heat and add the flour and continue stirring taking care not to let the flour burn.
  3. Add about a cup of water stirring all the time to ensure that the flour doesn’t become clumpy. When the mixture is a smooth paste, dilute with more water so that it becomes a thickish soup. Add the coriander, salt and pepper at this stage
  4. Allow the soup to simmer till the vegetables are just done.
  5. When the vegetables are done, and the soup is of the consistency you like, you can add some milk orcream to make it richer in taste and body.
  6. Add a dash of light soya sauce for that added zing.

[tweetthis]Serve hot with buttered toast and watch it go down in a jiff! This makes two large bowls of soup and is perfect for a rainy evening or chilly winter night.[/tweetthis]

What is your favourite soup? 

Easy peasy and really cheesy conchiglie

With a title like this, you probably wonder what kind of a dish this is. Well, it’s a really easy pasta which looks great, tastes better and is a breeze to make and perfect to make when you are entertaining.

The skill in cooking while entertaining guests is to manage both the conversation and the cooking without conducting the party in your kitchen. The internet is a great cookery resource with recipes available for almost every ingredient you can ask for and in any culinary style . While searching for a decent pasta to go with my largely fishy meal, I found this recipe which I had to majorly tweak only because I found that I didn’t have the main ingredient which was Zucchini. But ever the girl guide, I am never one to despair so went ahead with my plan of making pasta using shell pasta or conchiglie.

Pasta is always a hot favourite and there are very few who dislike it. If you add cheese to this, there is no way it can fail to please.

So what you will need to replicate this is

  • 2 cups of uncooked shell pasta or conchiglie.
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon oregano (I used a packet of the oregano mix that comes with home delivered pizza)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 200 g fresh cream ( I used Amul)
  • 1 tub cheese spread ( I used Amul)

Here’s what I did:

1. I brought some water to boil in a large pot. When the water came to the boil, I added some salt and the pasta and stirred it from time to time t prevent it from sticking. I cooked it for more than 11 mintues because frankly, I don’t like the pasta al dente but prefer it to be slightly softer. I drained off the water and left the pasta covered till later.

2. In a large frying pan, I heated the olive oil and then added the garlic and browned it. I then added the onion and cooked it till the onions became soft. To this I then added the red bell pepper, some salt and dried oregano. I covered it , lowered the heat and allowed it to cook a bit.

3. At this point I stopped cooking and left the dish half cooked till it was dinner time.

4. Just before calling the guests to the table, I heated up the red peppers and garlic , added the cooked conchiglie and gave it a good stir before adding the chopped basil leaves.

5. I then poured in the cream and the cheese spread and stirred it thoroughly making sure that every pasta shell was coated with this creamy cheesy mixture.

6. I poured it onto a flattish dish and served it with hot garlic bread.


Try it – it’s yum a deliciously creamy cheese sauce, crunch red peppers that add a dash of colour, the sharpness of sweet basil and the flavour of oregano….. Shell pasta doesn’t taste any different from any other pasta but the shape makes it easy for the sauce to cling on to….


Mushroom and Prawn stir fry

         Most discoveries happen by chance rather than by design.

         Last night I was entertaining two Dutch people and was wondering

         what to give them as they were on their way home and quite fed up

         of our Indian food which can be too much for people not used to our

         strong spices and copious amounts of food.

         But cooking for them is always a problem because I never know what

          they really like. I remember one Dutch man actually hated the smell

         of coriander so much that he changed the hotel he was staying in because he was disturbed by the smell of fresh coriander which was sold by the vegetable vendor down the road!

Since most people these days are fussy about their calories, I decided to keep the meal largely fishetarian and concentrated on Prawn (which the foreigners simply love) and fish.

Prawns in white wine

Entertaining and cooking are difficult to manage at the same time, so I always look for recipes that can be made ahead of time. This particular recipe which I discovered on the net ( and tweaked majorly to suit my needs) can be made part in advance leaving the last minute addition of prawns to just 5 minutes before sitting down to eat as Prawns should never be overcooked.

If like me, you also have to cater to vegetarians, this dish is perfect in that you can cook most of it and take out some portion for the vegetarians before finishing it off.

You will need

  • 1 kg deveined and shelled prawns . Keep the tails on for better effect
  • 1 packet mushroom
  • 1 green onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1-2 tbspn olive oil
  • salt and pepper  to taste
  • a dash of dry white wine

What to do

1. wash and pat dry the deveined prawns

2. Wash and pat dry the mushroom and slice them in half and again into thin slices

3. wash chop the green onion, keeping the green part separate.

4. In a skillet heat up the olive oil and add the garlic. Lightly brown and add onion. Continue stirring till onion is soft

5. Add the mushroom , stir and cook till mushroom turn soft.

6. When the mushroom is done, remove some to keep the dish vegetarian and sprinkle some chopped green onion before serving.

7. To continue with the Prawn dish, add the prawn, stir in the white wine and allow to cook uncovered till the prawns shrivel up and turn pinkish orange. Sprinkle the rest of the chopped onion greens and give it a good stir before serving.


This dish goes well with garlic bread and Fratelli’s dry white wine

Easy-peasy Lobster Thermidor

With the winter chill lingering on longer than usual, I decided to serve my dinner guests a Lobster Thermidor as the Entree. Lobster Thermidor  is a dish which draws immediate oohs and aahs from a crowd and establishes your undisputed reputation as a master chef. The traditional recipe requires a lot of preparation but I have found a quick and painless way of making this classic dish. an easy way out.

With Valentine’s day looming up, it’s time to start thinking of doing something special and romantic. Nothing can be more romantic than a candle light dinner at home with a special dish to make your loved one feel even more special on this special day.

First off, get someone to deliver a fresh lobster – one that’s been cleaned and deveined. Live lobsters would be the best option but ever since my vegetarian cook thought she was being attacked by the lobster that jumped out of the hot water, I’ve decided to buy dead lobsters instead. I still prefer going to the local fish market and haggling with the fisher women but these days I find cleaning the fish a bit tedious and  with  an efficient home delivery fish service like Pesca that provides fresh fish, cut the way you want, my fishing in the market is restricted to the days when I want to actually interact with the fisher women .


Make sure you also have on hand some mushrooms, milk/cream, flour, olive oil and cheese. The rest of the ingredients should be easily available on your kitchen shelf. So for your romantic dinner for two, you will need

2 Rock Lobster cleaned and deveined with the carapace ( 200-350 g per piece)
1 tbspn butter
1 tbspn olive oil
1/4 cup finely sliced mushrooms
2 tbspns refined flour
1/4 tspn freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tspn ground mustard powder
3/4 cup milk
2-3 drops of fiery hot Tabasco ( Opitional)
1/4 cup grated cheese for the sauce ( I love Amul‘s regular cheese)
1/4 cup grated cheese for the topping
What to do:
1.Fill up a large pot with water and add a teaspoon of salt and bring to the boil.
2. In the meanwhile, wash the lobster tails and heads under running water to remove any grit or sand.
3. Put the lobster in the boiling water and allow to cook till they turn orange.
4. In the meanwhile, heat the butter and oil in a pan.
5. Add the sliced mushrooms and saute for 1 minute
5. Add the flour and spices and make into a roux.
6. Stir in the milk and cook on medium heat .
7. Add the grated cheese and turn off heat.
8. The lobsters should be done in 5-10 minutes so take out of the water keeping some just as reserve to dilute the sauce if required.
9. When the lobster tails cool down, remove the meat from the shell and chop into four large pieces. With a kitchen scissors carefully cut the tail into two pieces. Do the same with the head and place the shell in a baking tray/pan.
10. Add the lobster meat to the cheese sauce and cook for a bit. 
11. Assemble the lobster shell and fill with the meat.
12. Sprinkle grated cheese on top and grill for 5 minutes in a hot oven or till top is crusty and done.
Then turn down the lights, and bring your Lobster Thermidor with the flourish of a Domestic Goddess, to a well laid out table and watch the eye popping surprise of delight!
Serve with a crisp salad or with sauted green beans, red peppers……. accompanied with a chilled bottle of  Fratelli’s Chardonnay.

Image – I’ve taken the liberty of using the photo from Pesca’s website

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