Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Indian Spinach Soup

 A few days ago my mother had her wisdom teeth taken out. You know she's my mother because she got to hold on to her wisdom this long. I had mine out ages ago. Now, at least we're both dunces. Anyway, I digress. My mother was now less wise but also more squirrel cheeked. I decided it was time to be uncharacteristically nice and offered to make her soup.

My mother accepted the offer and immediately wanted to know what kind of soup. I decided on this spinach shorba, a fragrant and light Indian soup.

Now my mother grew up in India and is a fabulous Indian cook but when she heard of this soup, made with a spiced vegetable stock, she insisted it couldn't be really Indian. That's when wikipedia came in and a quick search of "shorba" proved this dish's origins. I'm kind of a food history/anthropology nut so I found it fascinating as well.

When most people (well, most non-Indian people) think of Indian food, they think spicy and fiery curries that leave one gulping water. Well, did you know that chilis didn't enter the Indian palate until well after the 1500s? Neither did tomatoes, potatoes or a whole host of other ingredients. European conquests did some terrible things for humanity, but it did spread a ton of different food stuffs around the globe.

The origins of this dish, and many other chili-less Indian foods, predates Columbus. Mughal emperors of Northern India brought chorba with them from Persian trade routes and would sip bowls of this delicate aromatic broth in their palatial surroundings.

So from the courts to the common kitchen, this soup continues to delight. It takes about 10 minutes to prep, another 20 to cook and can be served warm (which is how I like it) or chilled. Naturally vegan, it can be made glutenous or gluten-free. Enjoy!


One medium onion- roughly chopped
5 cloves of garlic- roughly chopped
3 inches of ginger- grated
5 cardamom pods (opened and crushed)
4 cloves
5 black peppercorns
1 inch stick of cinnamon
3 bay leaves
2 bunches of fresh spinach, washed and drained in a collander
5 cups water
1 tbsp ground cumin
Salt to taste
1 tbsp flour or almond flour
Olive Oil


Prepare ice-bath in sink.

In large pot boil water. When water has a rolling boil, blanch spinach leaves by placing in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Then, immediately lift out of water and place in ice bath. When leaves have cooled, drain from ice bath, pureé in blender and set aside.

Empty large pot of water. Dry. Drizzle pot with olive oil. Over medium heat, toast cardamom, cloves, peppercorns, and cinnamon for 2 minutes. When spices begin to sputter (careful, the oil may "jump"), add flour/almond flour and stir until spices are evenly coated. To avoid burning the flour, immediately add chopped onions, garlic, ginger and bay leaves. Sauteé over medium heat until mixture is fragrant and translucent. This should take about 8 minutes. Add 5 cup waters and lower heat to simmer. Cover pot and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. The longer it simmers, the more flavorful it will be.

When done simmering, pour contents of pot through sieve into large soup bowl. Add salt to taste. This will be your stock.

For a lighter soup, stir spinach pureé into stock and serve.

For a more hearty soup, which I prefer, sift through the contents of your sieve. Pick out the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cloves and cardamom pots. Add onion mixture to the blender and pureé. Stir spinach and onion pureé into stock and serve.

I like to garnish my soup with a dollop of greek yogurt and some freshly ground pepper.

Use your favorite bowl and soup spoon and dig in!


Post a Comment