Palak Shorba (Punjabi/Mughlai Spinach Soup)

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free * Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve * Paleo ~~~~

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There’s a pretty good Indian restaurant just a few blocks from my apartment called Swagat.  They make a spinach soup with chicken that I always order and it occurred to me that I could probably make it at home without too much difficulty.  As I often do, I googled Palak Shorba and checked out a few of the recipes.  The one that sounded best to me was by master chef Sanjeev Kapoor.  His recipe is vegetarian, instead of the chicken soup I get at Swagat, and used lots of whole spices.  I simplified the recipe but used a similar flavor profile.  Traditionally Palak Shorba is finished with a bit of cream; but, since I’m dairy free, I use coconut cream instead.   I make this recipe often.  Frequently, I revert to the Swagat version by adding shredded cooked chicken and eating the soup as a main course.

Today I had lunch with my friend Larry at Swagat.  I ordered the Chicken Palak Shorba and brought my own version of Palak Shorba to do a taste comparison.  NO CONTEST…mine was much better.  I was shocked and pleased…Larry agreed with me.

Enjoy!
Palak Shorba (Spinach Soup)

Boiling potatoes are “creamier” than baking potatoes and so are better for the final texture of this soup.  When pureeing, the soup doesn’t have to be absolutely smooth, just smooth enough that there are no more pieces of potato.  If you don’t have coconut milk you can omit it – don’t substitute nut milks as they will change the flavor.

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2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups chopped onion

1 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger

1 teaspoon garam masala or curry powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground clove

3 cups broth (any kind)

1/3 cup diced peeled boiling potatoes

2 bay leaves

3/4 cup cooked chopped spinach or 1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt to taste

Ground red pepper to taste

2 tablespoons coconut cream or coconut creamer or enough coconut milk to “lighten” the soup

Heat the oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onions and ginger and cook, stirring, until onion is softened.

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Add the garam masala, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, black pepper, and clove. Stir until spices are absorbed.

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Add the broth, potatoes, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 20 to 25 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

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Discard bay leaves; add the spinach, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to the pot.

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Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until the spinach is finely chopped.

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Return to heat if necessary. Stir in coconut cream right before serving.

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Place in serving bowls and top with toasted slices almonds or other chopped nuts for garnish.

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Makes: 4 1/2 cups

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