After I worked out what I was eating with such addictive enjoyment I took up the adventure of exploring why?
Was it the umami?
Umami or savory taste is one of the five basic tastes and is characteristic of many broths and cooked meats.
Many foods that may be consumed daily are naturally rich in umami components.Glutamate in the form of inosinate comes primarily from meats whereas guanylate comes primarily from vegetables. Mushrooms, especially dried shiitake, are sources of umami flavor from guanylate. Smoked, or fermented fish are high in inosinate, and shellfish in adenylate.Generally, umami taste is common to foods that contain high levels of L-glutamate, IMP and GMP, most notably in fish, shellfish, cured meats, meat extracts, mushrooms, vegetables (e.g., ripe tomatoes, Chinese cabbage, spinach, celery, etc.) or green tea, hydrolysed vegetable protein, and fermented and aged products involving bacterial or yeast cultures, such as cheeses, shrimp pastes, fish sauce, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and yeast extracts such as Vegemite and Marmite.[ Many humans' first encounter with umami components is breast milk. It contains roughly the same amount of umami as broths.(LINK)
A good resource for what and why is the Umami Information Centre which points out that Umami isn't really that exotic at all. Indeed it is in lots of everyday foods.
The trick is to know which and explore the synergy you can try to master by combining them.
Here's a list of Umami rich ingredients.
I also could not understand that a meal without grains or starches --seemingly so carbohydrate light -- just a soup -- could be so satisfying.
Answer: umami. Some initail studies suggest that umami signals satiation and helps curb overeating.
Add a ferment, like fish sauce....a green spinach type leaf or four; sundry other veg..and now you're cooking the umami way.
Is it healthy? Check out the foods.
For culinary application of umami-rich ingredients/seasonings into everyday meals:
This day's umami soup.
In this broth float 7 varieties of land vegetables, one sea vegetable and powdered dried anchovies with a preferential hit of a whole habanero, which, I'm sure, will have to become a regular part of my daily soup ritual.
For those into exotics, a teaspoon of Black Cumin (Nigella) seeds --which tastes like a combination of onions, black pepper, and oregano -- is also swimming within.
From my POV, Nigella is a versatile alternative to pepper corns and sesame seeds.
A microwaved tomato makes a great floating addition to the flavour medley.