How to Modify Classic Soup Favorites with an International Kick

By Alan L. Rubin, Cait James

Soups are part of every cuisine. And virtually any soup can get a little ethnic flavor by changing the spices and seasonings (all of which are found in most kitchens). In the next recipe, the garam masala, a traditional Indian spice blend, gives this chili a taste of India.

You can find this tasty spice blend in the spice section of most grocery stores now. If you want to change the flavors to match another culture’s cuisine, change the seasonings.

Try these few ideas to substitute for the garam masala, changing the flavor, but keeping the basic recipe.

  • Chinese five-spice powder, ground ginger, and a touch of sesame oil stirred in at the end of cooking, for a Chinese-inspired chili

  • Chili powder and cayenne, for a traditional southwestern chili

  • Cinnamon, for a Cincinnati-style chili

  • Basil, marjoram, oregano, thyme, and rosemary, for a taste of Italy

  • Thyme, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, garlic, and onions, for a little Jamaican jerk flavor

  • Cumin, coriander seed, and cloves, for a taste of North Africa

Indian-Inspired Lamb and Legume Chili

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 2-1/2 hours (largely unattended)

Yield: 8 servings

11⁄2 pounds lean ground lamb

1 cup chopped red onion

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 cans (141⁄2 ounces each) no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained

1 cup dry red wine

1 tablespoon chili powder

11⁄2 teaspoons ground coriander

11⁄2 teaspoons garam masala

1⁄4 cup serrano chilies, seeded and minced (about 2 chilies)

1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can (15 ounces) lentils, drained and rinsed

1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

  1. Combine the lamb, onion, and garlic in a large stockpot.

    Cook over medium heat until the lamb is browned and crumbled, about 5 minutes. Stir as needed. Drain in a colander to remove excess fat. Return drained meat mixture to the stockpot.

  2. Stir in the tomatoes, wine, chili powder, coriander, garam masala, and chilies. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

  3. Stir in the black beans, lentils, and chickpeas. Simmer an additional 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Per serving: Kcalories 311 (From Fat 126); Fat 14g (Saturated 6g); Cholesterol 61mg; Sodium 248mg; Carbohydrate 23g (Dietary Fiber 9g); Protein 23g.

Lamb tends to be a high-fat meat, however, so be sure to drain the fat during the cooking process.