Thove: My Miso Soup

thove, South Indian lentil soupMy comfort soup is a South Indian lentil soup called thove. It reminds me of Japanese miso soup in that it has that same foggy quality to it, but yet is substantial and always makes me feel better. Thove is actually not pronounced the way it is spelled but the closest approximation I can come up with is this: tho-way. I make my thove from moong dal, also referred to as split yellow gram, yellow dal or yellow lentils. It is basically a mung bean with its green skin removed and split in half. This makes for a quicker cooking time and when boiled, this dal comes apart easily.

moong dal, yellow lentils, split yellow gram

In every household, thove is prepared a little differently and can even vary with the type of dal used – some use moong dal while others may use toor dal. In the North, cumin seeds are used and in the South, black mustard seeds flavor the soup. I make a variation of my mother’s recipe usually with green chilies, curry leaves, ginger, turmeric and lemon.  The soup has virtually no oil – just 2 teaspoons that you add at the end when you temper black mustard seeds and I also add onion at this point and even some garlic if I have it.

This soup traditionally is made with tomatoes in some homes or spinach, which I incorporate if I have either on hand. I’ve had the soup made with snake gourd and other watery Indian squashes – zucchini would be a good sub in if you want to add squash. This time I had spinach so I threw that in to the pot:

fresh spinach

It’s the perfect soup for when you are short on time or when you are feeling a bit under the weather because it’s quick to make and it has ingredients that help combat illness like turmeric and ginger.  I usually eat it with basmati rice, some yogurt and a little achaar or uppinakayi on top.  It’s great as a plain soup as well.

What’s your comfort soup?


Pin It