The Soup Story – How Soups Became a Part of the Indian Culture

What could be more comforting for the soul on an overcast monsoon evening than a steaming bowl of spiced lentil soup? Imagine a tureen of culinary goodness topped with tiny bites of carrot and sprigs of coriander, the brilliance of contrasting hues that warm your heart warm and soothe your soul!

One of the earliest authentic culinary creations of humanity, soup has made a long journey from the primitive caverns to the modish Michelin-starred restaurant tables clad in white linen. A truly universal dish, soup is now part of every region’s cuisine and keeps undergoing myriad reinventions.

The history of soup is as old as the history of culinary arts. Want to learn more about the roots of this wholesome dish, which is not just an occidental favourite, but also a prominent delight in the desi kitchen?

The Soup Trail

Until the invention of mud vessels and pottery, boiling wasn’t used as an everyday cooking technique. Animal hides and tree barks were used as water-proof vessels for cooking plants and acorns. Ancient pottery excavated near Jiangxi Province, China, reveals that the first soup was prepared around 20,000 BC.

The word soup comes from the French expression “soupe”, which means broth. Soupe was derived from its Latin equivalent “suppa” meaning bread soaked in broth. Suppa, in turn, is an offshoot of the Germanic term “sop”, referring to a loaf of bread used to soak up a thick stew.

Ancient Romans, followed by the Byzantine Empire and Turkish Ottomans have highly influenced the soup culture in Central Asia and Europe for many centuries. Soup makers in the Medieval and Renaissance eras changed its course by contributing new recipes and introducing new styles to serve and devour soup, including the launch of soup spoons.

The invention of canning in the 19th century commercialised soups. The market for canned soups burgeoned with several manufacturers launching condensed as well as ready-to-eat packaged soup varieties. Dry soup mixtures, which can be reconstituted with hot water and fresh ingredients, became a convenient choice of food, especially in workplaces.

The Tale of Indian Soups

Centuries of European colonisation and foreign regimes in the pre-colonial era have influenced India’s foodscape. New ingredients, recipes and cooking techniques were adapted, amended and assimilated into our regional cuisines, based on local needs and availability of raw materials. The “Mulligatawny Soup”, concocted by Indian cooks to please their British superiors, is a variant of “rasam”, the popular tangy South Indian soup, usually consumed with rice or as is. The name Mulligatawny came from two Tamil words – “milagu” and “tanny”, which literally translates to “pepper water” or “spicy stew”. Apparently, Brits liked the broth and took it wherever they went. They even customised the recipe by adding new ingredients and introduced it to every home in England.

Travelling all the way from the Middle East to India, Shorba, a well-liked soup variety, found its own place in our overwhelming potpourri of recipes. The story of Indo-Chinese soups is no different. Classic Indian soup vegetarian variants like Manchow soup, hot and sour soup, cream style sweet corn soup and veg clear soup are exceptional examples of the deep culinary collaboration we have established with our neighbouring nation.

From the peppery South Indian rasam to the light and creamy Dal Shorba, soups, which were never a part of the Indian cuisine have become an irreplaceable item on our food menu.

Healthy Pick-me-ups

Soup has evolved from a last-minute throw-together dish to a wholesome treat. Healthy Indian soups, specifically vegetarian or vegan, bolster your fitness and weight-loss goals and help control the lifestyle disorders that are prevalent these days. Hectic work schedules and busy routines inhibit many people from starting their day off with a balanced breakfast, rich in protein and healthy fat. If you are looking for a morning meal that can be prepared in minutes, vegetarian or vegan Indian soup recipes are a must-try. Spinach and mint soup, for example, is a quick green broth that’s rich in insoluble fibre, iron and Vitamin A and C. It’s a diabetic-friendly soup that lowers the insulin level in your body and controls blood pressure. Rice gruel (kanji), the staple South Indian soup recipe, is an instant energy booster, packed with vitamins, proteins and starch.

Soup makes a great meal at any time of the day. It’s light, yet filling and customisable. You can experiment with different combinations of vegetables, spices, herbs and other ingredients to make your meal interesting. Warm up your winter days with hot soups like spiced coconut milk stew, tomato-lentil rasam with crushed and roasted black pepper, cumin seeds and garlic cloves or a flavourful chipotle cheddar cauliflower soup. For the scorching summer months, chilled soups like cold cucumber gazpacho soup, chilled fennel and grapefruit soup, or a revitalising watermelon soup with lemon, ginger and mint can top your recipe list.

Switching to Mindful Eating

Soups prepared with indigenous, vegan and plant-based ingredients keep your calories within the normal range and add healthy fats to your diet. There is no better way to increase your vegetable intake than a healthy Indian soup. Nutrisupa believes in balancing taste and nutrition. Our innate love for the Indian flavours and ethnic cuisines associates us with local ingredient growers and suppliers who enrich our platter with spectacular diversity. Our goal is to promote ethical eating habits through our home-grown brand of natural products that are safe for everyone.

If you want to buy Indian soups online, check out our web store for tasty and healthy variants.

Need some inspiration? Cast a quick eye on our Instagram page.

We’d be happy to power your well-being with the nourishing benefits of plant-based and vegan soups.

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