This soup is inspired by Palak Paneer. Palak Paneer is a popular dish in Indian cuisine and it has been one of our old time family favourites. It is made with spinach (a lot of it) paneer cheese, buttermilk or cream and spices.
The soup has a combination of mild flavours of spices, lemon juice, cream, paneer cheese, pine nuts – for a little crunch, and a little sprinkle of chilli. All of these ingredients make this soup a lovely warming fuel for the body.
It has been a very busy and hectic few weeks here. As I have mentioned in one of my previous blog posts, we have moved house and currently are in the midst of a major, and I mean MAJOR, renovation. It is very exciting! Of course, I’m particularly excited about the future new kitchen with two ovens, an island bench and no more orange walls! But all of the packing, moving and settling into a temporary house ( all done with two little kids and a very silly labradoodle puppy in tow ) has been taking it’s toll, as it does. As a result, I have been feeling a bit tired and sluggish and that means it’s time to recharge. Of course, the best way to recharge is rest, but I’m not seeing it happening just yet, so I’m using the ole good food to put myself back on track.
It is incredible just how much the food we eat affect our bodies, our wellbeing, and even our mental health.
My wonderful friend Angela, an Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine practitioner, Naturopath and Acupuncturist (yes I’m very lucky to have a bestie with such amazing knowledge, along with many other beautiful qualities) has been helping me over the years to understand the effects of food on body and how I can help myself overcome certain ailments by altering how I eat.
Ange has helped me on so many occasions I’ve lost count. She is the most caring, genuine and beautiful person in every way and has supported me throughout some very tough times. She has shared her wisdom in the most caring and uncomplicated way, listened patiently and with much compassion and understanding. Having Ange as a friend ( more like a sister ) is a true gift I’m so grateful for.
And, in saying all of the above, Ange and I have decided to join our powers and create something wonderful and helpful for the foodie folk who are interested ( I’m certain many of us are ) in finding out more about the food we eat and it’s powerful effects both on our body and mind.
I will be posting my recipes as per usual and Ange will be adding in her words of wisdom on the health benefits of certain ingredients and their combinations on some of the recipes from time to time.
Today, I’m fortunate to have Ange by my side and have her insight on the health benefits of some of the combination of ingredients in this soup.
I would like to say huge thanks to Ange for her input into this blog post. Being a very busy mum to two little munchkins, working in and running her own clinic, doing regular talks and workshops around Perth, she managed to make the time to share her thoughts here with us all.
Angelas words of wisdom
The beautiful blend of ingredients in this soup make it a great recipe to enjoy in spring!
The beginning of spring is a time when the air is still crisp and cool but the coldness of winter is finally dwindling away with the promise of the warmth of the new season.
Spring is the time when we can still be carrying some of that excess mucus from colds and flu’s in the winter months and perhaps experiencing some of those irritating hayfever symptoms.
Therefore food at this time still needs a little bit of warmth that can be achieved by cooking foods using slightly warming spices, and ingredients that are a little pungent such as onions, garlic and ginger. The warm and pungent qualities help to dry up and break through the mucus whilst also keeping our bodies just warm enough for this last spell of cooler weather.
Adding spices such as cumin, coriander and turmeric not only tantalise our taste buds but also aid in digestion and nutrient absorption.
At the same time we should also be starting to add in some lighter spring vegetables and leafy greens that help to cleanse the body and support the liver in the spring season. The broccoli and silverbeet in this soup are perfect examples of this.
Paneer provides a highly nutritious good source of protein – a great choice for vegetarians. It is rich in calcium and Vitamin D, which supports bone health, as well as being high in vitamin B12.
Protein also helps to balance blood sugar levels, and keeps us feeling fuller for longer, making it less likely to be reaching for extra snacks after!
The great thing about paneer is that it takes on whatever herbs, spices and flavours it is cooked with making it a very versatile ingredient.
Those of you who are more prone to mucus conditions and hayfever are best to skip the buttermilk or cream and go the coconut milk option instead. It would also be best to replace the paneer cheese with firm tofu until any congestion clears
1 large brown onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2-1 tsp ground turmeric
500g broccoli, roughly chopped including the stem
300g cauliflower, roughly chopped
1 bunch silverbeet, hard stems removed, roughly chopped
6-8 cups vegetable stock
1 tbsp dry fenugreek leaves ( Kasoori Methi )
1/2 lemon juice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
200g paneer cheese, sliced into 1 inch long and 1/2 inch thick slices
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chilli flakes ( optional )
1 cup buttermilk or pouring cream ( see note at the end )
2 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 tsp coriander or cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground
Lemon wedges and handful mint or coriander leaves to serve
Heat oil in a large saucepan or a pot.
Add onion and garlic and cook till fragrant and golden, then add spices and cook for a further minute or two.
Add broccoli, cauliflower, silverbeet and fry stirring till silverbeet has wilted.
Add stock, fenugreek leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cook for 40 minutes on medium-low heat or until vegetables are tender.
Blend in a blender or using a hand blender till smooth, add more stock if the is too thick.
Add lemon juice and olive oil, then stir well.
In a bowl toss paneer, 1 tbsp oil and chilli flakes coating the slices of paneer well.
Heat a nonstick frying pan over a high heat and fry paneer slices till golden brown on both sides.
Serve soup drizzled with buttermilk or cream, lemon juice and sprinkled with lightly toasted ground seeds, nuts, coriander or mint leaves and topped with fried paneer cheese. Add more chilli flakes if desired.
Add more vegetables to the soup if desired, such as carrot or potato . Carrots will add a hint of sweetness and further thicken the soup.
Use cream instead of buttermilk for a sweeter taste. Replace buttermilk with plain or greek yoghurt if buttermilk is not available. For a dairy free version use coconut cream or milk.