The concept of soup in South India is unusual but not unknown. Even Meenakshi Ammal and Priya Ramkumar covered them in the classic books Cook and See. I have not been able to trace the origins of South Indian Soups – perhaps the British occupation – and many people that I ask deny their existence. But no, they are part of the cuisine, albeit a limited part, and I have been served them in India on several occasions.
Indian soups are basically un-spiced thin but flavoursome broths, with perhaps the addition of some cubed vegetables. This one is from Priya Ramkumar herself, in Vol 4 of Cook and See, and is a beetroot soup that extracts the flavour and colour of beetroot for the soup without including the vegetable. It is surprisingly delicious! I was quite amazed by the flavour of this soup and it has become a favourite. And why would you make soups any differently in a country that produces so many thick, nourishing, soupy, spicy dishes that are eaten as an accompaniment to rice?
Are you looking for more? Check out our Beetroot Soups, and then for more Indian Soups, browse here. You might like to have a look at our range of Soups here. Or explore all of our Indian dishes. Or cook seasonally with our easy, Mid Spring dishes. Enjoy!
Indian Beetroot Soup
2 beetroot, peeled and grated
1 white or red onion, chopped
1.5 tspn ground black pepper, or more to taste (Meenakshi Ammal asks for 1 Tblspn, but I feel this is too much)
1 carrot, chopped
1 sprig parsley
1 tspn sugar
salt to taste
cream or yoghurt for garnish
Heat 1.5 litre water in a medium saucepan. Add the chopped onion, carrot and parsley. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 30 mins until the vegetables are soft.
Strain this mixture and reserve the broth.
Add the grated beetroot to the broth and mix well. Bring it to the boil on the stove, add the salt, black pepper and sugar, and simmer for 10 minutes on low.
Strain, reserve the soup and discard the beetroot pulp.
Serve warm, room temperature or chilled, in small portions, with cream or thick yoghurt. It is good at any temperature, but we absolutely love it chilled.
recipe notes and alternatives
You can add some celery and bayleaf when making the stock.
If you have an Indian Stock in the fridge, that can be used as the basis.