A soup to go meatless on Mondays, or any day

On a recent Monday we went meatless for the whole day, not in a conscious nod to the international Meatless Monday movement, which I wholeheartedly support, but just like that – as we often do, at least for one meal.

I vaguely remember that in Calcutta and Dacca (now spelled Dhaka), the two major cities in the province of Bengal in British India, where we lived, one day a week was meatless during World War II – Tuesdays I think. It was carried over, I remember, in East Pakistan too, after the partition in August 1947. A meatless day, when beef or other meats were not supposed to be sold in the market, is nothing new to us.

In fact, on the Indian subcontinent – especially in the political India – a majority of the population, who are Hindus, Buddhists and Jains, are meatless as a tenet of faith. And by choice, some members of our own family are vegetarians in practice, although allowing seafood and eggs in their diet. And it appears that science is on their side.

A word of clarification, however, is called for. Meat is a part of me and my wife Kaisari’s diet – as it is of the majority of Muslims from the subcontinent – but beef and chicken actually make up a rather small part of our dinner plate. Consider it as almost a flavoring of the meal; the main components are rice or bread as well as a variety of vegetables.

On the recent meatless Monday, the breakfast was the usual bowl of oatmeal porridge with banana and walnuts; for lunch we got a large specialty vegetable pizza from the nearby Domino’s; and for dinner we had a bowl of hearty vegetable soup Kaisari quickly made with fresh, frozen and canned veggies.

We like Domino’s specialty vegetable pizza. We have tried both the thin-and-crispy crust and the pan pizza crust, both loaded with veggies and a nice amount of cheese. The large pizza, at just under $14, made two full meals for the two of us, including lunch the next day. Reheated in the toaster oven, the leftover slices tasted even better.

Here is the simple recipe for the veggie soup.


Serves 4 to 6

32 fluid ounces good quality low-sodium beef broth (such as Swanson’s)

2 to 3 tablespoons oil; 1/2 extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 canola

1/2 to 1 white onion, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, sliced

A few grinds of black pepper

2 to 3 sticks carrots, scraped and diced

2 to 3 sticks celery, diced

1 large red onion, diced in large chunks

3 to 4 long fresh green beans, trimmed and cut 1-inch long, or equivalent frozen

Canned beans, pinto, navy or cannelloni, or a combination, drained and washed, and well-drained

2 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced

Measure beef broth and set aside. Heat oil in a medium to large pot. Add sliced white onion and saute over medium to medium-high heat, stirring frequently until fragrant and starting to take on some color. Add garlic and black pepper and stir briefly for a minute or so.

Stir in the carrots, celery, red onion and green beans. Saute, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add canned beans and stir for a minute or so. Add the broth and cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables and beans are cooked; stir in the diced tomatoes midway to incorporate.

Adjust seasoning and serve piping hot with buttered good quality bread, toasted.

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