Dining Out 2 minutes 13 June 2019

Souped Up: 6 Savoury Beverage Alternatives

Cutting out sugar and caffeine? Here are some tasty, savoury beverages from around the world to shake up your drinking options.

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Alcohol, sweet sodas and caffeinated beverages might be the only options that come to mind when you think of drinks, but there is a whole world of savoury drinks to explore. Sipping a savoury drink in a mug can make for a comforting mid-day snack while chilled drinkable gazpacho is practically a salad in bottle. If you’re looking to reduce your intake of sugar and caffeine, here are some savoury alternatives to shake up your drinking options.
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1. Vegetable-based Savoury Tea
When the 4 o’clock munchies hit and you don’t want to snack too close to dinner, a satisfying alternative might be a mug of savoury tea. Similar to herbal tisanes, savoury teas are steeped from vegetables and aromatics instead to brew a light consomme-like tea with an umami depth. Launched in 2014, Millie’s Sipping Broth takes a leaf from the French bouquet garni method of making broth with dried vegetables, herbs and spices in single-use broth tea bags to make Tomato Basil, Thai Lemongrass and even Vietnamese pho-flavoured hot beverages.

California company Numi Organic Tea has a line of savoury teas made from organic vegetables, wild herbs, decaf tea and spices in flavours like Tomato Mint, Carrot Curry, Fennel Spice, Spinach Chive, Beet Cabbage and Broccoli Cilantro while alveus’ VeggieTeas Organic line can even be used as a vegan alternative for stock.

Serve it in a bowl and it's soup, drink it from a cup and it's bone broth. (Pic: Shutterstock)
Serve it in a bowl and it's soup, drink it from a cup and it's bone broth. (Pic: Shutterstock)
2. Bone Broth
Initially gaining traction among the Paleo crowd, bone broth is essentially clarified stock made by simmering bones in water over a long period of time to draw out all its nutrients and minerals. The drink is now being touted as a restorative beverage. The bone broth craze has swept through the Western world in recent years, peaking in the United States thanks to athlete and celebrity endorsements. Dedicated broth shops like Cauldron Broths in Seattle have opened and chefs like Marco Canora of New York restaurant Hearth have started selling take-out cups of bone broth. Even supermarkets began cashing in with freezer-packs and broth-enriched bottled juices. Read more about the health benefits of this wellness trend here and try your hand at making your own beef bone broth with this recipe from wellness lifestyle brand COMO Shambhala.
Salted lassi is a traditional Indian yoghurt-based drink (Pic: Shutterstock)
Salted lassi is a traditional Indian yoghurt-based drink (Pic: Shutterstock)
3. Indian Salted Lassi
Enjoyed during summer, lassi is a cold yoghurt-based drink typically made with a blend of yoghurt, water, spices and sometimes fruit. While sweet lassi is flavoured with sugar, rosewater or sweet fruit like mangoes and strawberries, the traditional salty form of lassi known as namkeen lassi is more common in the Indian subcontinent. Salted lassi is prepared by blending yoghurt with water and salt, and variations include seasonings like cumin seeds, fresh coriander, ground ginger or even green chillies. Michelin Bib Gourmand eatery Zaffron Kitchen in Singapore offers both sweet and salted lassi as a foil for its spicy curry dishes and smoky tandoor offerings.
4. Beet Kvass
Here’s a traditional tonic from Eastern Europe. Beet kvass is a ruby-coloured earthy, salty beverage made from the lacto-fermentation of beets. Rich in probiotics, beet kvass offers the same health benefits as other lacto-fermented drinks like kombucha and water or milk kefir. Fresh raw beets are peeled and chopped, covered in a mixture of salty brine, starter culture and filtered water and left for ferment for about a week. The result is a rich, savoury beverage with an earthy undertone that is distinctly salty and tangy. Other than drinking it straight up, beet kvass is also a delicious addition to salad dressings and as a base for borscht, a beetroot soup of Eastern European origin.
5. Drinkable Bottled Gazpacho
Move over juicing, souping might just be the next big thing. A classic of Spanish cuisine, gazpacho is a cold soup made of blended vegetables — typically tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, onion and garlic — with olive oil, vinegar, salt and water. Companies like Tio Gazpacho, backed by celebrity chef Jose Andres, have started bottling gazpacho as a drink and positioning it as a low-sugar alternative to juice cleansing as well.
6. British Bovril Drink
Bovril is a black gooey extract of beef and yeast that you can stir into hot water and drink like a cup of tea or spread on toast. Since its invention in the late 19th century, Bovril has become an icon of British culture: generations of British football fans have fended off the winter chill with a thermos of the savoury beef tea in hand and even today, Bovril dissolved in hot water is still sold in stadiums all over the United Kingdom. In Asia, Bovril was popular with the older generation of Malaysians and Singaporeans who would stir the savoury beef extract into rice porridge and even coffee.

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