SINGAPORE - For a hearty meat-free soup, try making beetroot soup.
Beetroot is the star of this medley of vegetables. It has vitamins A and C, potassium and folate, but the red hue of the soup may put off those who are not used to the ingredient. The soup is so sweet and nutritious though, so it is certainly worth adding to your home-cooking repertoire.
I am not a big fan of the root, but I find it palatable when cooked in a soup.
I add a variety of vegetables to cover its grassy taste. Visually, the sweetcorn, carrot and celery also add colour to the dish. For those who do not eat much greens, this soup can help add fibre to the diet.
Apart from peeling and washing the vegetables, it is an easy dish to pull off.
A sharp vegetable peeler, a kitchen knife and sturdy pot are all the equipment you need. Cut the vegetables into large chunks or pieces so that they can withstand the slow-cooking without turning mushy and disintegrating.
If you set a timer and watch the stove occasionally, it is possible to cook this soup while working from home. I usually cook this amount so I can have the soup over two days.
As this is a meat-free soup, I use soya beans and kombu, Japanese dried kelp for stock. You can use pork ribs or chicken bones for meatier flavours. But I like to go meat-free on occasion, just to enjoy the natural flavours of vegetables.
I add a Chinese pear and honey date for extra sweetness and taste. Omit them for a shorter grocery list, but use less water for the soup.
I prefer white corn as it tastes sweeter than the yellow ones. I find that white sweetcorn retains its sweetness even after boiling and it can be eaten with the soup. Tomato lends a slight tartness to balance all that sweetness.
Skip the salt for a healthier version. But if you are not used to simpler tastes, add salt as preferred.
Beetroot vegetable soup
6 litres of water
100g soya beans, washed
4g kombu (dried kelp)
2 beetroots (740g), peeled, quartered
2 carrots (359g), roll-cut each carrot into four pieces
1 white sweetcorn (377g), cut into four pieces
1 Chinese pear (300g), peeled, cored and sectioned into six pieces
2 celery stalks (100g), peeled and cut into thirds
1 yellow onion (153g), sectioned
1 tomato (163g)
1 honey date
½ tsp of salt (optional)
1. In a pot, add 4 litres of water, soya beans and kelp. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-low heat and half-covered for 40 minutes.
2. Add the beetroots, carrots, white sweetcorn, Chinese pear, celery, yellow onion, tomato and honey date.
3. Add the remaining 2 litres of water. Bring the soup to a boil again and simmer over low heat for 1½ hours. For a more concentrated soup, boil for another 30 minutes.
4. Season with salt if desired.
5. Turn off the heat and let the soup cook in residual heat for another hour.
6. Bring to a boil again before serving.
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