Steamed Pumpkin Soup with Shallots and AFBHLS Guest Post by Harini of Tongue Ticklers
I love my morning cup of steaming hot milk tea, grilled cheese sandwich and the crisp stuffed Paratha (Indian flat breads) with creamy yogurt Raita. Yes I heard it, so do you. But then hold on, if you are one with me you need to pause for a moment and read the following post from our AFBHLS guest Harini. Who knows this might change the way you look at your breakfast table as it did to mine. Now that my weekly grocery list has less of those extra cheese boxes and I have started loving my tea without milk.
You guessed it right our AFBHLS guest blogger is a ‘Vegan‘ close to four years and is a great inspiration in spreading the message of healthy vegan lifestyle through her recipes and articles. Tongue tickler is a culmination of her love for dreaming & writing and her blog is a journey from a lacto-ovo-vegetarian to becoming a vegetarian, and then a vegan. Apart from healthy vegan recipes which are delicious and satiating you can also find many gluten free recipes.
Her love for her camera speaks volume though all the mouth-watering pictures on her blog. Here are some of my favorites from her blog;
1. If you like your veggies, greens and legumes then this authentic Gujarati dish Oondhiyo is for you;
2. This healthy Mushroom with greens is a perfect appetizer for any party and makes a nutritious snack as well.
3. And here is something to rejoice for if you are a vegan, a Christmas cake with rum and fruits.
I love this beautiful picture of hers clicked by another lovely food blogger friend Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen. Over to you Harini..
Sanjeeta wrote to me sometime back inviting me to share my ideas on a healthy diet in a guest post. Of late, I know I have been cooking mostly healthy dishes. I am glad it is being noticed!
I do not subscribe to the notion that being fit is being healthy. I associate ‘fit’ with appearance and ‘health’ with a placid state of mind. I am not very much into yoga or any other form of physical exercise. I try to meditate and do some basic relaxation exercises which I learnt during my recent tryst with ‘THAC‘. While my food habits were close to that Dr. Vijaya Venkat suggests, my knowledge of physiology and the reasons why the body expects us to behave in a certain manner were not clear. I think it is necessary for all of us to re-educate ourselves about the functioning of the human body.
In the span of four years that I spent blogging, my view about food and health have progressively changed. I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian, later became a lacto-vegetarian and now am a vegan. I always knew eggs gave me none of the things advertisements promised, but I treated it much like a bag of chips. A little wouldn’t hurt. It made my cakes tasty, but it was easily replaceable with milk, so it wasn’t difficult to give it up. When I learnt that milk was not meant for me but for the calf, I was shaken. I did a lot of reading, debated the whole thing in my mind – the calcium dilemma, the protein punch – and I learnt the truth we all hate to acknowledge. That ‘yes, milk is good, but is specie specific’. Cow’s milk is meant for cows, goat’s milk for goats, and human milk for human babies. I looked around for something to negate my new found reasoning. I found none. I asked all those questions that readers often ask me and I learnt to accept the bitter truth. I did not want to give up something only because I was holding on to it psychologically.
When you are not convinced about what is right, you must view yourself as a third person and thrash out the issue – fair and square. The truth usually presents itself, bare and sometimes, hard to face.
By then, I had my priorities right. I gave up the addiction. I am yet to give up my addiction to food entirely but I have changed my habits for the better.
The reasons why I adopted a vegan lifestyle are ethical but the gains on health front have been numerous. I do not believe in forcing my ideas here. But, I do suggest that you give it a chance. Within a month of being a ‘wise vegan’ you will find improvements in your health. Simple things like acidity, migraines, joint pains, even menstrual pains reduce or disappear. I am convinced that the diet best suited to human beings is a diet bereft of meat, dairy and animal products. I used the words ‘wise vegan’ because just being vegan does not exclude all of the unhealthy stuff. My health mantra is to use organic provisions, local produce as far as possible and to avoid preservatives or shop brought ‘off the shelf’ items. I keep my food simple and rely on light spices to boost flavours. I do not use hydrogenated fat as a rule at home. I use steaming or baking as opposed to boiling or frying. I minimize the use of oil and gluten rich foods. My daughter is lactose, nut and gluten intolerant and it is by accident that I realized that gluten-free foods are naturally healthier. I believe in serving foods that look beautiful and smell delicious. I have my weaknesses. I still haven’t been able to completely give up white sugar, white flour, wheat and white rice! But I am getting there. Having said that, I know that the quest to health is a personal journey, and if you have a different line of thought, I completely respect it.
I admit I was surprised when Sanjeeta asked me to share my thoughts in this matter. She has a very open mind and I am happy that she gave me this opportunity. I love that she is so creative with her recipes. It is not easy to revamp a dish while keeping true to its original version. Sanjeeta does a fantastic job! It is a pleasure for me to share this simple soup recipe with you, dear readers. Bon appetit!
If only shallots were easy to peel, I would actually replace onions in all recipes with them! They have divine flavour! But they can be a bit of a pain, and they are irreplaceable. One might think – “Ok! I can use one medium sized onion instead of a shallot.” But no! Shallots are unique. They have this mild sweetness that is pretty seductive. So important that I used them right up there with pumpkins in the title!
Recipe: Steamed Pumpkin soup with shallots
Serves: Four soup bowls full
- Yellow pumpkin (I used 1 small whole pumpkin) – 444g
- (After removing seeds, being steamed and being pureed, this weighed approximately 400g or about 3 cups)
- Vegetable stock– 3 cups, approx. 520g
- Shallots, peeled and sliced thin – 6
- Garlic clove – 1
- Bay leaves – 3
- Olive oil – 1 tbsp.
- Pink salt (powdered kala namak) and pepper to taste
Set the stock to thaw.
Cut pumpkin into six thick segments or big chunks. Steam cook for about 20minutes or till a knife slides smoothly into the cooked pumpkin. You can boil or bake pumpkins but this is the healthiest method and easiest too!
[If you do not have a steamer, heat enough water in a large vessel and when it comes to a rapid boil place a steel strainer over it to create a steaming contraption. The strainer while fitting snugly into the vessel should remain at least an inch or two above the water surface. Place the pumpkin segments inside the strainer, skin side down and cover with a fitting lid. Lower the heat to medium and let cook in the steam till a knife easily slides into the pumpkin flesh. I used a steamer and my pumpkins were done in about 20 minutes.]
When done, remove and let the pumpkins cool till they are easy to handle.
Meanwhile, cook the shallots. Heat oil in a sauce pan to medium hot. Add bay leaf followed by garlic and sliced shallots. Reduce heat and fry till the shallots turn light brown and slightly caramalized. Remove a few aside for garnish along with a bay leaf if you would like to, at this stage.
By this time, the pumpkins should have turned warm. Using a knife, gently pare the skin and puree the pumpkin along with the above mixture containing shallots, garlic and bay leaves to a grainy consistency with a cup of vegetable stock. You can make it super smooth too, but I like it a little coarse. If you do not like the slight texture from bay leaves you might want to remove them before you puree.
Return the pureed soup along with two more cups of stock to the sauce pan. Warm through, adjusting salt. Serve with a dash of lemon pepper on the top, and some of the caramalized shallots.
Steamed pumpkin, just pureed makes delicious baby food, even without the addition of salt.
Thank Harini for sharing this wonderful Steamed pumpkin soup with us, shallots in the recipe is a star ingredient. I like the creamy texture and the wonderful color of this soup.
I look at Veganism as one of the toughest and the epitome of all forms of diet. Wherein health, environmental and moral aspects all are being taken care of during the transition of becoming a Vegan. And I applaud you for being one!
Thanks again for the inspiration and being a wonderful AFBHLS guest, this post will remain close to my heart. We all wish a healthy and prosperous life to you.