When the fog around refuses to lift up and the mood turns sulky, we find comfort only in a bowl of steaming soup.
Only, this one is not a run-of-the-mill soup served in restaurants imitating the first course of a Western meal.
This one is a healthy wholesome broth, a substantial meal in itself.
In Hungary, they have goulash; Russia rejoices in borscht; and in the US, chowders are soul food.
In Far East Japan and China, they have myriad soups to nourish the body and refresh the mind.
Gaduwa shurua (derived from shorba) is an invigorating trotters broth popular in Uttarakhand.
What else is thukpa encountered in the regions bordering Tibet, but a soupy one-dish meal?
Unfortunately, we have gotten so used to taking shortcuts that even at home we rely on soup premixes that require adding just a measured quantity of boiling water.
Let us assure you that preparing a hot cuppa from scratch is as much fun as sipping the stuff. Just ensure that you include a variety of vegetables of different colour, taste and texture.
The challenge is to blend them symphonically, without striking a discordant note. To add substance to the soup, you may use chunks of tofu/paneer or a small quantity of noodles.
There are a lot of ways in which you can thicken the broth — stirring in corn starch or arrowroot powder.
Our favourite, though, is pureed boiled potato, never more than a medium-sized one.
There are those who insist that good soup can only be made with stock prepared beforehand, but don’t let this stop you. Once the vegetables have been chopped, you can start enjoying the ‘one-bowl meal’ in little over half an hour.