Spinach and Ridge Gourd Soup

Kootu is a popular vegetable stew made in many parts of southern India. The basic recipe for kootu is vegetables cooked with lentils, spices and shredded coconut to form a thick stew which is typically eaten over white rice. In this recipe however I’ve chosen to make kootu into more of a soup by substituting the traditional shredded coconut and lentils that go in kootu with coconut milk to give kootu a more soupy consistency, perfect for a Sunday soup day. 

Ridge Gourd & Spinach Soup with Coconut Milk

Ingredients: makes 6 large helpings

  • 3 large ridge gourds. About 6 cups, skin removed and finely chopped. Ridge gourds can be found in most Indian and Chinese markets and at the farmer’s markets. They are in the squash family. If you have a hard time finding ridge gourd you can substitute zucchini or any squash or pumpkin in this recipe.

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  • 4-6 cups baby spinach finely chopped.
  • 1 green chili – any type, for flavoring and a little heat, but not needed.
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed – if you like but not needed.
  • 1 tsp Asafoetida powder (Hing). You can get this spice at any Indian store and at Whole Foods.
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • Oil (preferably coconut oil)
  • 1 15oz can coconut milk
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  • In a large pot heat 1 tbsp coconut oil. Add mustard seeds and let them pop. Add cumin seeds and asafoetida powder and let aroma release, no more than 3-5 seconds. Do not burn asafoetida powder as it will turn black and lose its aroma and become bitter. Add green chili and garlic and sauté until garlic fragrance comes through. Add chopped squash, salt and pepper to taste and mix together.
  • Add 4 cups water and cook covered for 10 minutes until vegetables are tender.
  • Next add chopped spinach and coconut milk and heat through unitl bubbly for an additional 5 minutes.  Soup is ready.

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  • Serve soup with garnish of fresh cilantro.

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