Mumbai is experiencing the best of the winter season right now as temperatures are dipping every single day. It only gets better because this season calls for steaming food that can keep you warm and at the same time feels like a hug. While whipping up a scrumptious feast may not always be possible, a bowl of soup is certainly a one-bowl wonder. It is not only interesting because of the many flavours it can produce depending on how it is made but it is also light and doesn’t take too long to make.

The versatility of the dish means that it can be made and eaten any time during the day and what better time to make it than the winter season. Luckily for India, we have many different types of soups that are enjoyed by people. However, it gets even better now because the winter brings with it a wide variety of seasonal ingredients that can also be added to the soup. 

It is also the reason why Mumbai chefs suggest using butternut squash or pumpkin as it is more commonly known, and other produce that will make it rich in flavour. For non-vegetarians, adding a bit of chicken or any kind of protein can do the trick to enjoy a good bowl of soup on a cold winter day, especially in the evenings, when you are working from home or come back from work.

Roast chicken and winter vegetable broth by chef Rollin Lasrado, Smoke House Deli, across all outlets
Mumbai chef Rollin Lasrado suggests making a soup with roasted chicken and a variety of winter vegetables. He explains, “This soup is the perfect comfort soup for now, as it doesn’t take a lot of preparation. It uses whatever is available in the kitchen and seasonal vegetables like peas, saag, kohlrabi among others, which are rich in vitamin C and potassium which helps the body fight off cough and cold.” The city chef says if one doesn’t prefer chicken and sausages, then it can always be substituted with any other kind of protein to suit vegetarians or vegans.

Roasted Chicken, shredded 100 gm
Sausages of your choice, diced 100 gm
Onion, julienned 1/2 nos                               
Garlic cloves, sliced 4 nos
Seasonal vegetables (kohlrabi, peas, pumpkin, beetroot, carrots, turnips, cabbage, mustard leaves) 250 gm
Stock of vegetables or chicken 750 ml
Few torn sprigs of basil
Bay leaves 2 nos
Olive oil 50 ml
Salt and freshly crushed pepper as required
Cream 50 ml
Butter 30 gm 

1. Clean, trim and cut the vegetables as required. Dice or cut the root vegetables, the leafy ones may be shredded or left whole.
2. Heat oil in a heavy bottom casserole. Add the julienned onions and sauté them. Then add the garlic and bay leaves and sauté them too.
3. Add the root vegetables and sauté them. Char them in the pan to get a little colour and caramelisation on the vegetables. Add in a little stock and cook on slow flame till the vegetables are almost completely cooked for about 10 minutes, depending on how big the vegetables are cut. The stock will also evaporate by this time.
4. Add in the sausages and the roast chicken and sauté them. Add in the remaining stock and increase the flame.
5. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add any leafy vegetables, stir and cook till the chicken and sausages are ready and the vegetables are cooked. Adjust the seasoning.
6. Finish by stirring in the cream, butter and the torn basil.
7. Serve hot with grilled sourdough or bread of your choice.

Greek chicken and couscous broth with sour cream by chef Rohan D’Souza, Silver Beach Café
Making soup with chicken is common but very often one may be left scratching their head to figure out how they can innovate. Chef Rohan D’Souza at Silver Beach Café suggests making a simple yet delicious Greek chicken and couscous broth with sour cream. He explains, “The soup is made with easily available and nutritious ingredients. With seasonal vegetables and herbs this soup is well-suited for the winter months. It’s a comfort warm soup.”

Couscous 50gms
Chicken breast, small dice, 60gm
Garlic, chopped 1 tsp
Onion chopped, 1 tbsp
Butter 10 gm
Dice vegetables (zucchini, baby corn, beans, carrot) 60 gm
Lemon juice 15 ml
Parsley, chopped 1/2tsp
Thyme, chopped 1/2tsp
Vegetable stock 250 ml
Heavy cream 60 ml
Salt/pepper to taste
Vegetable seasoning 1/4th cube
Garlic bread, toasted               2 pcs
Lavash 2 pcs

1. In a hot pan, melt butter, sauté the garlic and onion.
2. Add chicken dice, dice vegetables and sauté. Add the vegetable stock and cook.
3. Add couscous, lemon juice, salt/pepper, veg seasoning cube and simmer until the chicken and vegetables have cooked. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
4. Finish the soup with cream, chopped thyme and parsley. Serve hot.
5. Accompany it with toasted garlic bread and lavash.

Pumpkin soup by chef Ilandhirai Vadivel, Radisson Blu Mumbai International Airport, Andheri East
While soups keep us warm, chef Chef Ilandhirai Vadivel of Radisson Blu Mumbai International Airport reminds us that it is also a healthy option to consume during this season. “Soup is an ideal way to help boost our health during the winter seasons. It is a great way to stay warm, reduce calories and maintain nutritional intake during the cold season. Protein and vegetable stock contains vitamins, minerals,” Vadivel shares.

Pumpkin  1 no
Veg stock 1 litre
Cumin powder 2 tsp
Garam masala  1 tsp
Garlic, peeled 4 cloves
Onion, medium size, sliced 2 nos
Coriander powder 2 tsp
Chilli powder 1 tsp
Oil 3 tbsp
Fresh cream 100 ml 
Salt to taste

1. Heat the oven 160 degrees Celsius and cut the washed pumpkin into half and remove seeds and cut pumpkin into wedges with skin on.
2. Add the garam masala and 1 teaspoon each of the coriander and cumin into a small bowl and mix with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season.
3. Pour over the pumpkin and toss well to coat in the spiced oil. 
4. Transfer to a baking tray, spread out evenly and roast for 40-45 minutes, turning halfway through cooking, until the pumpkin is very soft when pierced with a fork.
5. Leave it to cool on the tray for a few minutes.
6. Heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion until soft. Add the garlic and remaining spices and fry for a few more minutes until fragrant. Pour in the stock and bring to a gentle simmer.
7. Scoop the soft flesh from the skins. Add the soft pumpkin to the stock pan, discarding the skins.
8. Remove from the heat and blend the soup with a hand blender until creamy and smooth.
9. Put back over a low heat and stir in the cream. Bring to a gentle simmer.
10. Serve in bowls with a drizzle of more cream and a pinch of chilli to serve.

Roasted butternut squash soup by chef Sougata Ghosh, JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar, Andheri East
While Vadivel iterates that soups are healthy, Sougata Ghosh, sous chef at JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar says they are also a great replacement for regular meals because not only are they light but also wholesome. At the five-star property, he makes soup out of butternut squash, which is commonly known as pumpkin. Ghosh explains, “The butternut squash soup is an extremely healthy dish as it predominantly consists of squash, which is packed with vitamins and minerals, making it the ideal dish this winter season.”

Butternut squash 120 gm
Garlic 5 gm
Onion 10 gm
Thyme 1 spring
Rosemary 1 sprig
Salt 10 gm
White pepper 5 gm
Olive oil 5 ml
Butter 10 gm
Full fat cream 10 ml
Pearl barley 10 gm

1. Marinate medium cut butternut squash with salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary and garlic and roast it at 180 degrees for 15 minutes.
2. Saute chopped garlic and onion with olive oil and add the roasted pumpkin to it.
3. Add double the quantity of vegetable stock and bring it to boil.
4. Blend the mixture and check for seasoning.
5. Cook the barley separately with some thyme in and add to the soup.
6. Add the block of butter and cream to the soup and serve hot.

Truffle scented porcini mushroom soup by Chef Yajush Malik, Gallops, Mahalaxmi
While non-vegetarians may boast of meat in their soups, there are plenty of options for vegetarians to explore. If you love mushrooms, then it is the perfect time to enjoy a bowl full of it in a soup. Chef Yajush Malik at Gallops says one can try experimenting with a truffle scented porcini mushroom soup instead of the regular mushroom soup. With the unique flavour of truffle and creamy soup, it is an ideal accompaniment for most people this winter.   

Olive oil 45 ml
Thyme 2 sprigs
Fresh button mushrooms 180 gm
Fresh portobello mushrooms 180 gm
Dried porcini mushrooms 30 gm
Truffle oil 15 ml
Garlic, minced 2 cloves
Celery stalk, chopped 1 no
Pesto oil 20 ml
Fresh cream 30 ml
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

1. Soak the porcini mushrooms in hot water.
2. Wash and slice the mushrooms.
3. In a hot pan, add the olive oil and grill the mushrooms in batches till well browned. Keep it aside.
4. In the same pan add the garlic and celery and sauté till fragrant.
5. Add the mushrooms and bring to a boil. Remove from the flame and cool. Purée the mixture in a blender until smooth.
6. Bring the soup back to the pan and adjust the consistency with water. Add salt and pepper to taste.
7. Add the cream and then the truffle oil and bring to a light simmer.
8. Garnish with pesto oil.

Broccoli kale soup by chef Amit Shetty at Cafe Noir, Lower Parel
If you are not a fan of one of one too many vegetables, then keep it simple with a broccoli kale soup. Being a part of the menu at Cafe Noir, chef Amit Shetty believes it is ideal for this weather like every other soup and one can simply celebrate its simplicity. He explains, “Kale is best procured in these winter months. It is also the best Vegan option too.” If you are a vegan and want to enjoy different kinds of soups, you should definitely add this one to your list.

Broccoli 50 gm
Kale 10 gm
Coconut milk powder 10 gm
Onion 5 gm
Garlic 3 gm
Thyme 2 gm
Oil 10 gm
Water/vegetable stock 500 ml

1. Boil water and add salt to it. Add your broccoli and blanch it for two minutes.
2. Sauté onion and garlic in a saucepan until translucent.
3. Add your balanced broccoli and raw kale to the same pan.
4. Add coconut milk powder and sauté until golden brown.
5. Add water or vegetable stock to it and cook it for 5 minutes on a slow flame.
6. Blend it into a fine consistency, you can add more water to it to adjust the consistency.
7. Add seasonings and serve.

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