Who can forget Flavors, the little Italian bistro adjacent to the Moolchand flyover in Delhi. In the years gone past, it was much smaller, quainter than its current avatar. I can never forget my first visit there with my sister, Mridula, who is responsible for my initiation to world cuisine and booze-not necessarily in the same order. And I can also never forget what I ate on that first trip. A beautiful Cold -Cuts platter(unparalleled until I discovered the platter at the Bombay Good Earth Cafe), and a hot sumptuous Meal Soup. This soup is to me what dal-chawal or roti-achaar or khichdi-kadhi or Beef Chilly or ratatouille is to some. Soul Food. I have replicated and experimented with this Meal Soup many times since then at home, long past it has been discontinued in Flavors. Its fast, easy and oh, so satisfying.
As an ode to this grey rainy season in Bombay, I share my recipe of the Meal Soup.
You need chunk pieces of 2 carrots, tiny bunch of halved beans or quartered string beans, small cup of corn-baby or golden-american, small cup of sweet peas, 8-10 baby potatoes or 3 halved regular potatoes with skin on, fistful whole garlic, 1 quartered onion, 2 quartered tomatoes, 8-10 olives, slivers of a knob of ginger, 4 cloves, stick of cinnamon. Pour 2 tbslp Olive oil in large pot, sputter-fry the cloves and cinnamon and lightly brown the onions and garlic on high heat. Add potatoes and brown the edges. Dunk in the rest of the veggies and fry for five mins. To this add diagonally cut, thick chunks of sausages(any kind that you like, but avoid Chorizo and Goan sausages) and a litre of chicken/meat stock(homemade, out of a box or diluted from dehydrated cubes) plus salt to taste. Simmer on low heat till the veggies are almost cooked. To this add a cup of uncooked pasta of your choice and cook on high heat for 8 mins(al dente time). Serve. Sprinkle pepper and squeeze lime to spike the taste.
What better way to end your day than this Meal Soup,some good bread, memories of my sister and a hug from your now-feeling-pampered family. Ummm, maybe a Cola Float on the side….