I have always loved winters. And that also meant, delving in the warmth that the goodness of food offers during this amazing season. During the days that I was supposed to be in college, I’m saying I was “supposed to” because the inside of the college was pretty alien to me, but, the food stalls and hang out joints outside the college were places I was a pretty regular at. These joints were my haven for good, cheap, food. Again, not that I attended college, ever, but the thrill of having the sweet corn chicken soup from the so called ‘Chinese’ stall right outside it, made me want to get on my bike and travel those 22 kilometres.
The food joints offered all kinds of delicious, mouth-watering food options that were pocket friendly and did indeed go to satiate the youngsters’ appetite. But the one stall that clinched it during winters was the tiny Chinese ‘thela’ or cart. This one offered a variety of Chinese sounding noodles, rice and soups. Now, now, it was nothing special, but back then (before being introduced to World Cuisine), we thought, the only soups available and edible are Chinese (apart from tomato soup of course, which originated in each of our homes).
So, coming back to the point, we had this ‘Chinese’ stall outside our college. This stall served the most delectable and cheap sweet corn chicken soup; that too, with the 1 by 2 preference which was primarily to cope with the issue of limited pocket money and offer the much needed warmth during winters and of course keep the tummy happy. Wondering what 1 by 2 is? Well, it is a concept developed to help hungry college students or people with a cheap streak enjoy a bowl full of delight. Let me explain, when 1 potion of the cornflour laden soup, is divided into 2 (with 3 shreds of chicken each) bowls, to serve 2 starving, cold and penniless college students. Oh, and the delight of enjoying the steaming hot bowl of soup and discussing how the world needs to change, was a priceless delight that those days offered. All at the expense of our (not so) generous parents, who all this while thought we were putting the college fees to good use!
Anyway, this gluggy bowl of soup was almost like a reward we gave ourselves for travelling the distance in the cold weather. It was almost like we deserved it simply because we decided to spend money on fuel and get to the outside premises of college!
But over the years, working with and towards good, wholesome food, I realised, soups are more than what we got at our dear Chinese stall. They can and almost always be wholesome, packed with nutrition and flavour and all things good. Of course, the Chinese love their soups, but around the world too, they are adored and quite an essential and much loved. Soups are the essence and the palate trigger to the forthcoming courses. They are the perfect course to experiment with, enjoy and also, the real deal to pack a variety of nutrients into one bowl that isn’t much of an effort to eat or feed. Given my experimentational streak with food and the love for a good rustic bowl of soup I keep trying various versions of the delightful bowl of lusciousness that satisfy my soul, my taste buds and my gurgling stomach.
The one soup born out of these experiments is my broccoli and potato soup. Simply because there aren’t too many broccoli fans in the house, and to deliver the nutrition that it offers, coupled with every ones’ favourite, potatoes, simply results in a delightful bowl of flavoursome comfort and warmth, that capture the essence of winters. Hereby, I bring to you a peasant’s grub, that is easy, cost efficient and a fulfilling meal in itself!
Broccoli and Potato Soup
The ingredients and the recipe for this soup are very simple and, the ingredients are available all over the world. This recipe will make you about 4 to 6 bowls of soups, obviously depending on the portion size. I have omitted the bacon from the ingredient shot, just so I can stay kinda middle way, which is with or without bacon. So here goes…
Potato (medium sized) – 4nos
Broccoli (medium sized) – 1head
Butter – 2tbsp
Garlic – 2tbsp (finely chopped)
Bacon – 15 to 20 bits
Milk – 3 cups
Basil – some!
Salt – to taste
Pepper – to taste
- Skin and dice the potatoes into small pieces. The peeling bit, get your little ones to do, while you blanch the broccoli.
- Cut the heads off the stem of the broccoli and blanch it for just 2 mins. Drain and keep aside.
- Now, dice the potatoes into medium sized cubes and soak them in water to avoid them browning.
- In a thick bottomed, fairly large pan, add 1tbsp of butter, and fry the bacon. Once fried, take out of the pan and set aside for later.
- In the same pan, add the garlic, 1 more tbsp. of butter and brown the garlic.
- Now add the drained, diced potatoes and give it a good stir.
- Now add the basil and the milk, and stir once again, and bring to a boil.
- Then, on a low flame, cook until the potatoes are almost cooked. About 10 to 15 minutes.
- Now add the broccoli, and seasonings a cook for another 5 minutes.
- Then you need to blend it. So, if you have a hand blender awesome! If you don’t, put it into a stand blender and pulse blend it. Pulse blending is when you don’t set the blender on a continuous spin, but keep spinning it slowly, in spurts on the pulse mode. If using a pulse blender, please be careful, as the mixture is very hot. Use a kitchen towel folded into a thick cushion like form to cover the top of the cover (see picture).
- Done! Pour into bowls and serve.
- If you don’t want to use bacon, use halloumi cheese.
- If you are looking for a substitute of milk, use almond milk. It has a fairly neutral flavour.
- Get your kids involved in the process of peeling and chopping, that will help them connect better with the food.
So well, here is a simple, peasant like food with simple and cost efficient ingredients that simply transform into a bowl of warm decadence and can also be a whole meal if you please. It’s packed with flavour and nutrition and is perfect for a cold winter evening. As always, the footnote will consist of asking you to follow me on Facebook and Instagram. But, do give this a shot. It’s simple, it’s decadent, it’s filling and like all my other recipes, your taste buds will thank you for this one too. Until next time then…