Some warm dishes for wintry nights

Geet's Kitchen- MastheadWith the change in the weather, most of us change our cooking style.

Soups are packed with nutrition, easy to prepare and with the colder months ahead, it would be wise to squeeze in a few easy warm soup dinners on a busy weeknight.

This edition features a recipe for a tasty soup with an Asian twist which you can have with crusty bread or naan. Serve it with some pan seared bacon to keep the meat lovers satisfied.

Special features

In South East Asia, soups usually come with noodles and hence are essentially one-dish meals. These are simple clear broths with meat or prawns, vegetables and noodles. A popular soupy noodle dish is ‘Laksa,’ with rice noodles served in a spicy curry like broth full of prawns or chicken, fish balls and vegetables and fresh herbs.

Also featured is a zingy Thai Tom Yum soup; it is a must in our home during autumn and winter especially when one is down with the common cold.

These recipes describe how to make the spice pastes from scratch. But please note that there are many readymade Laksa and Tom Yum pastes available in many supermarkets. They are usually tasty.

Pumpkin & Kumara Soup

Geeta's Kitchen-Pumpkin & Kumara Soup

500g pumpkin – peeled and diced
500 g kumara – peeled and diced
1 red onion – peeled and chopped fine
2 cloves garlic – peeled and chopped fine
1 small piece of ginger – peeled and chopped fine
1 red chilli – chopped fine
1 whole star anise
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 cup of coconut milk
2-3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Enough hot water
For garnishing
Pan seared bacon slices (optional)
Chopped coriander leaves
Sliced red chillies
Pappadam bits (instead of croutons)

In a deep pan, heat oil and fry onions. When brown, add garlic, ginger and chilli and stir. Add the diced pumpkin and kumara and the cumin, turmeric and star anise and mix well.

Add salt and pepper to taste and enough hot water to cover well above the mixture.

Cover the pan and cook for about half an hour on medium heat. Add more water if necessary.

Once cooked, add coconut milk. The pumpkin and kumara should have become all mushed up. If not, mash with ladle. Adjust the seasoning.

When the soup boils again, turn off the flame. Remove the star anise and use a hand held processor to give the soup a smooth texture.

Garnish with coriander leaves, chillies, bacon and Pappadam bits for some crunch.

Serve warm with bread or naan.


Geet's Kitchen- Laksa

400g vermicelli rice noodles – blanched in hot water and drained
1 cup of bean sprouts
1 cup of cucumber – shredded
1 cup of spring onions – shredded
1 cup of coriander leaves – shredded
4 limes – halved
Sambal – a spicy condiment available in small jars at Asian supermarkets


500g prawns – shelled and deveined
1 cup of fish cake – thawed and sliced (available frozen at Asian Supermarkets)
1 cup of fish balls – thawed (also available frozen at Asian Supermarkets)
1 cup of fried tofu puffs – shredded
500 ml of coconut milk
Salt and Sugar to taste
1 – 2 cups of hot water
Spices to be ground together into a smooth dry paste
1 large red onion — peeled
6 cloves of garlic – peeled
1 stalk of lemon grass – just the base of the stem
2 kaffir lime leaves
4 fresh red chillies (more if you like it hot)
1 inch piece of ginger
1 inch piece of fresh turmeric
1 tsp of cumin powder
1 tsp of coriander powder
1 tsp of shrimp paste or belachan (available at Asian supermarkets)
1/3 cup of raw cashews or almonds

Heat a pan with some oil and fry the spice paste until fragrant.
Add prawns and stir till cooked through. Add the sliced fish cake, fish balls and tofu. Add salt and sugar to taste and then add the coconut milk.
Add about a cup of hot water to make a gravy. Adjust seasoning.
When the mixture boils, remove from flame.
Serve in individual bowls by first placing enough blanched noodles, pour enough gravy over the noodles, then place some bean sprouts, shredded cucumber, shredded spring onions and coriander leaves.
Garnish with a dollop of sambal and lime halves and serve piping hot.

Tom Yum Soup with Noodles

Geet's Kitchen- Laksa

500g prawns – shelled and deveined
400 g of noodles – fresh hokkien noodles or flat rice noodles
1 red onion – peeled
6 cloves of garlic – peeled
1 inch piece of ginger – peeled
1 inch piece of fresh turmeric – peeled
3-4 birds eye red chillies
1 stalk of lemon grass
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 bunch of Bak Choy greens –  cut the bottom off and keep the leaves whole
1 cup of field mushrooms – washed and halved
500 ml of fish stock
1 tsp of fish sauce
1 tbsp. of soy sauce
1 or 2 lemons – juiced
1 – 2 tbsp sugar
1 or 2 cups of hot water
Coriander leaves and sliced red chillies to garnish

Make the Tom Yum paste by grinding the red onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, chillies, kaffir lime leaves and lemon grass into a smooth paste.
Blanch the noodles in hot water and set aside.
Use a deep pan and heat some oil.
Fry the spice paste until fragrant and then add the prawns and stir.
When the prawns are cooked, add the stock and boil.
Add the fish sauce and soy sauce for a salty taste.
Stir in the juice of 1 or 2 lemons and add some sugar to balance the sour taste.
The soup should be hot, sweet, salty and sour!
Add the sliced mushrooms and bak choy and bring the soup to a boil and turn off the flame.
The soup should be thin and if too thick add hot water.
Serve the noodles in individual bowls.
Pour the soup over and garnish with coriander leaves and sliced chillies. Serve hot.

Disclaimers: Geetha Nair and Indian Newslink absolve themselves of any responsibility relating to the ingredients, cooking methods and other matters relating to ‘Geet’s Kitchen’ column. Some ingredients may not be available and may cause allergy in some people. Caution must therefore be exercised and Geetha Nair and Indian Newslink will not be responsible to any health issues in this connection. Please consult your General Practitioner, Nutritionist or such others you may be consulting in connection with your dietary requirements.

Notes and Legends: 1. Quantities of sugar and salt are recommendations; please add or reduce to suit individual requirements 2. Tsp: Teaspoon Tbsp: Tablespoon

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