Soups for the soul
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The best soups you can have in Delhi this winter

January 20, 2023 12:30 am | Updated 05:44 pm IST

A steaming bowl of Vietnamese chicken noodle soup

A steaming bowl of Vietnamese chicken noodle soup | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

With icy-cold winds blowing across the northern region, I am happy to have my fingers wrapped around a hot bowl of soup. I am not much of a soup person, though. I find a bowl of soup usually filling up my stomach, leaving no space for the entrée. When the temperature drops, however, my soul yearns for hot soups. So, over the last few weeks and nippy nights , I’ve been ordering soups from restaurants and online platforms — and trying to keep the chills at bay.

My all-time favourite, once upon a time, was the hot-and-sour soup available at most Chinese restaurants. I particularly enjoy the Ichiban version, which is full of little bits of chicken and pork, and flavoured with hot sauces that unblock the sinuses. Nowadays, restaurants and cloud kitchens offer so many varieties of soups.

Few days ago, I tried out a bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup from Asia Kitchen by Mainland China, and loved it. The broth was light and full of all kinds of greens, some noodles and lots of shredded chicken. It was vastly different from the thukpa I had a few days earlier. The thukpa, from Lhasa, a restaurant in East of Kailash, was hearty and a meal in itself — with noodles, broccoli, spinach and other greens. The light flavour of the Vietnamese soup, however won me over.

Another place that has been giving me warm comfort in this season is a cloud kitchen called Caterspoint. It delivers its soups in 350ml jars, with soup sticks and small pats of butter. We had the Asian smoked chicken — a heart-warming soup with chicken, rice noodles and grilled vegetables, and garnished with parsley. The basil sundried tomato soup was superb —and that was not surprising, for it had been flavoured with two versatile ingredients, basil and garlic. Its soup menu includes winter barbequed chicken soup and lamb and hand crushed spice soup.

A steaming bowl of  Vietnamese chicken noodles soup

A steaming bowl of Vietnamese chicken noodles soup | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGMENT

A soup brand making quite a bit of noise these days is Batchelors. Its asparagus soup is creamy, and the chicken-noodle soup has all the flavours of chicken simmered for long in a broth. Batchelors has a nice range of soups — including chicken and leek, potato and leek, mushrooms with croutons and minestrone. The golden vegetable soup consists of a turnip-like vegetable called swede, onions, carrots, leeks and peas.

In parts of Delhi, you will find shacks or carts with steaming cauldrons. These vessels contain a local soup, called kharodey or paya, that you can never have enough of. Prepared with trotters, onions, green chillies and ginger (and often with a chickpea paste to thicken the broth), it is both delicious and healthy. Al-Jawahar in the Jama Masjid area sells paya in the mornings; a big bowl of the soup, enough for two more people, is for ₹500 or so. You will find kharodey soups in many parts of west Delhi. A popular stall is on Pusa Road, just before the Ganga Ram Hospital traffic light.

Batchelor's Asparagus soup

Batchelor's Asparagus soup | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The prices of soups vary from ₹250 to ₹400. Two of the Caterspoint jars are enough for three people, and the Batchelors’ soups have multiple sachets.

I have been coping with Delhi’s cold wave with bowls of steaming soup. Let the temperature dip: I have my internal heater.

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