Aunty Shelma was a family friend and this story dates back to a rainy Mumbai evening when we went to bid her adieu before she emigrated to Canada.
The evening was a long, chatty one as the adults couldn’t get their fill of memories and continued their ‘ do you remember’ stories well past dinner time. We were getting a bit hungry and fidgety and couldn’t wait to go home. I think it must have been Aunty Shelma’s mum who noticed that we needed to be fed and soon large bowls of hot broth swimming with vegetables were presented to my sister and me. Ordinarily, vegetable soup would have been dismissed without hesitation, but hunger had sharpened our appetites and we tucked in heartily, slurping it all up and, to our parents’ embarrassment, asked for seconds.
Following that evening, for several weeks, mum was badgered with requests for ‘Aunty Shelma’s soup’ (though I’m not sure she had a part to play in its making) at least once a week. I think mum improvised over time, adding and taking away ingredients depending on what she had in the fridge. The staples, however, remained moong dal, spinach, onions and tomatoes with a medley of vegetable scraps. Occasionally, elbow macaroni or potatoes made an appearance. This version features both pasta and a few potatoes making it a hearty, one pot meal.
It’s a great make ahead meal and I find chopping the veggies therapeutic. So whether it’s the warmth and nutrition of the soup bowl that you are seeking, or some cooking meditation, this one provides both aplenty.
Aunty Shelma, if you are reading this.. thank you for the wonderful memories and this delicious soup.
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1 medium potato, cubed
a handful of spinach leaves, chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and diced
a handful of chopped baby corn
a handful of green beans, chopped fine
a handful of moong dal
2 tablespoons oil
a litre of water
salt and pepper, to taste
1 Knorr or similar bouillon cube or a tablespoon of mixed herbs
a handful (or more) of pasta (optional)
- Heat the oil in a deep pan. Saute the onions until translucent. Add the potato, carrot, corn, beans and moong dal. Saute for 5-7 minutes. Add the tomato and cook till soft.
- Add the spinach leaves or any other soft veggies, that you prefer, at this stage. Add salt and pepper and saute for another 5 minutes or so. If you are using the bouillon cube, add it now.
- Add the water and bring to a boil. Once it has boiled, turn down the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or so.
- Add the pasta at the very end and cook till al dente.
- Serve hot with toast
- I sometimes replace the bouillon cube or herbs with a heaped tablespoon of pesto sauce, added just before serving.
- Instead of the pasta, I sometimes add leftover, cooked rice.