DURING Ramadan, most homes serve some kind of soup at iftaar. The health benefits of soup are numerous and well documented. One can also find many a mention in the hadith. It is one of those dishes that truly nourishes the body and comforts the soul. It is narrated that the Prophet Mohammed ﷺ enjoyed soup with meat, pumpkin and gourds especially [Sahih Muslim].
Here are a few recommendations to increase the nutritious value of your soup.
✔ Use an array of fresh vegetables. This gives the soup a good combination of vitamins and minerals.
✔ Herbs and spices not only carry flavor, they also give amazing health benefits. This includes garlic, ginger, turmeric (root if possible), bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, stick cinnamon, cumin, coriander, chillies and some sea salt.
✔ When using beans, grains or legumes soak for 1-2 days. These foods contain phytochemicals (anti-nutrients) that can cause bloating and flatulence. Once soaked, the water will become cloudy. The longer it is soaked the clearer the water becomes. Soaking them and changing the water a few times is more beneficial to you since the phytochemicals are greatly reduced.
✔ Try to avoid using wheat flour or corn flour as a thickener. Allow the soup to reduce naturally or blitz till smooth and thickened instead. The flour adds unnecessary calories which also are of no nutritious benefit.
✔ When using meat or chicken, add the bones. The bones carry many nutrients in the marrow and cooked over time, these nutrients leach into the soup making it an even more wondrous dish.
So prepare a wonderful hearty healthy nutritious soup as an iftaar starter and know that you are fuelling your body in the best possible way.
Below, I share one of my hearty soup recipes with you.
Caashifa’s Lamb and Vegetable Soup
- 2-3 tbsps. coconut oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 1 daikon radish, sliced
- 1 turnip, chopped
- 1 whole bell pepper, chopped
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 bunch celery (stalks + leaves)
- 1 cup parsley chopped (stalks + leaves)
- 2 tsps. tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- Crack of sea salt
- Crack of black pepper
- 1 MSG-free stock cube (optional)
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. onion powder
- 1 tbsp. paprika
- 1/2 tbsp. fine cumin
Season the lamb with salt and pepper and half of the spices. In a large pot heat the coconut oil and brown the lamb. When the meat is browned, add the onion with tomato paste. Sauté for 5 minutes (this removes the acidic taste of the tomato paste).
Add the celery stalks, carrots with the bay leaves, garlic and the stock cube. Add 1 cup water. If you are using broth or liquid stock then omit the stock cube. Cook for 10 minutes then add the rest of the vegetables and the remaining spices. Top up the pot with a kettle of boiling water.
Adjust the seasoning. Cook until the lamb is soft and falling off the bone. Add water throughout the cooking time if necessary. Remove the meat and bay leaves then use a stick blender to make the soup smooth. Add the meat back and simmer for 5 minutes before serving.