Monday, 5 October 2015

Bulgur, Lamb and Vegetable Soup


Someone asked me the other day why I do not think of taking up Physics once more. She was indeed quite surprised when I said I have forgotten most of what I had studied. The good lady insisted it will all come back to me; after all, a mere five years have passed. In my turn, I kept on protesting that it has all gone out of my head. It is true in fact. I loved the subject when I was in school and later in college. Then I lost interest - I was stuck up with a specialization that I loathed, a college that run mostly on its antecedents and barely on its present merits, and a department that was notorious for its tumultuous relationships between professors that more often than not infiltrated to academic activities and students. Above all however, there was a haunting foreboding that what I had a passion for would in all probability remain the unachievable dream of a geeky girl.

Catching lights in the great expanse above, was what I dreamed of;
And it soon became a wish that flitted away beyond my reach.
Also, somewhere along the way, I found it all quite meaningless. Not the subject; but the realization that all that you hold important, all your deeds and all your schemes could tumble down like a card house. Then, life took another direction.

But that is another tale for another time.
Or maybe I didn't fare that badly.

For catching lights is what I do even now...

I skip, I hop, and I waltz around,
To catch the lights before they fade away.
So that I can preserve those little things
That make us happy in their subtle ways.
Of course, it all becomes a chaotic drill when the skies are overcast.

This seems to be a never ending gripe of mine; but the weather is indeed cold and rainy and has been so on and off for a very long time. Moody skies and a sick-yet-never-say-no-to-work Techie called for soups of all sorts this weekend. I had a pack of bulgur wheat that my sister had given and some lamb meat that came with much aplomb. The vendors were insistent on calling it lamb (goat's meat is more common where we live, which by the way is called mutton here as opposed to a mature sheep's meat elsewhere.), poetically describing its tenderness and waxing eloquent on why it wasn't 'mutton'. Well, I wasn't blown away when I cooked it and my regular store sells goat's meat that’s tenderer. It wasn't bad either and went well with the bulgur in the soup.

Bulgur, Lamb and Vegetable Soup 

The combination of grain, meat and vegetables makes this a hearty soup and it tastes great when served warm. The recipe is adapted from the 'Lamb, Vegetable and Barley Soup' published on taste.com.au.

Ingredients:

For the Stew Pot:
  1. Lamb, boneless - 250 to 300 gms.
  2. Bay Leaf - 1
  3. Dried Thyme - 1/2 tsp. (Or use a stalk of fresh thyme.)
  4. Garlic, sliced - 1 tbsp.
  5. Onion, chopped - 1/3 cup
  6. Celery, chopped - 1/3 cup
  7. Carrots, cut into rounds and each round into quarters - 1/3 cup (I had mini carrots and so cut each rounds in two.)
  8. Red Wine Vinegar - 1 tsp. (Or use White Vinegar)
  9. A Stock of your choice - 3 to 4 cups (See Notes.)
  10. Salt
  11. Pepper
  12. Olive Oil
To Cook Separately: (See Notes.)
  1. Bulgur Wheat - 1/2 cup
  2. Water - 1 cup 
  3. Salt
To Finish Off:
  1. Flat Leaf Parsley - 2 tbsp.
Directions:

Heat up the stock pot and add some oil. Brown the meat (in batches if needed), transfer to a bowl and set aside.

To the same pot, add the bay leaf and garlic cloves. Saute for a few seconds and then add the three vegetables. Stir around for a few minutes and add thyme, vinegar, bit of pepper and stock (Start with three cups.) Bring to a boil and add the browned meat.

Cook covered on a low heat till the meat is done. (Skim the surface of the soup occasionally.) Add more stock if needed in between.

Meanwhile, rinse the bulgur and transfer it to a pan with a cup of water and a touch of salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer it covered till the bulgur is almost done. Drain off extra water and add it the soup pot if it is ready. Otherwise, drain, revive and set aside. (Keep the bulgur a bit undone.)
Once the meat is done, add the bulgur to it, bring back to a boil and switch off. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Transfer to serving bowls and garnish with chopped flat leaf parsley.

Serve warm.

Notes:
  1. The original recipe uses beef stock. I had a few bone-in pieces of lamb that I added to the pot while cooking (which were removed at the end) along with a chicken stock and water mix (instead of using stock alone). Also, the amount of liquid that you will need will depend on how long the meat takes to cook. 
  2. The original recipe uses barley and cooks it along with the meat. Bulgur cooks faster. But you can add the rinsed bulgur once the meat is cooked and simmer it for some time in the same pot. 

4 comments:

  1. For a long time I cried over very similar issue on the choices I made in studies and how it all flew away from head. Over a period I realized my heart was never in it more than that I pardoned myself for letting it go. I have to say I found so much peace and made soo much empty space to fill it with new things. I can proudly say I learnt many new things myself without other annoying external factors.
    The soup does look inviting may be I will try it with beef or chicken.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry about not replying before Meena. What you say is true too. For a lot of things that I felt compelled to do at different points in life - I later found that my heart was not in them. And I moved on, though sometimes with a touch of regret and reluctance. Looking back however, I am happy with the choices that I made, the priorities that I changed and the paths that crossed mine. I can see God's hand and His mercy in all of those things now.

      And thank you. Beef might be a better choice as far as this soup is concerned for a heartier flavour.

      Delete
  2. I guess many of us have regrets over what we studied, what we dreamt of when we were young and what we are now... Somehow, more solace comes from the fact that jo bhi hai, achcha ke liye hai... :) Physics - I used to absolutely loathe it! Hehe... This soups really delicious... bookmarked... your Techie sounds like my HD hehe...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the way I look at everything :D And ha ha! I hear the same comment from lots of people when I mention the subject ;)

      Thanks Rafee and do let me know if you try it out.

      Lol! The Techies are all alike :)

      Delete

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