Tomato soup, variety and such
February 29th, 2008

A really good tomato soup will always have a front row seat in my virtual “I hope nobody is watching me licking the soup bowl clean” – list. Quite likely, a well done tomato soup will even outrun the most comforting potato soup as well as a bowl of silky, orange pumpkin soup. Do you have a favorite tomato soup recipe? You do?! Well, I don’t or more accurately: I can’t say. Wait, before you start feeling sorry for me and my inaptness to come up with a great tomato soup recipe – my problem is of a different kind. I actually have too many good and proven recipes to choose from, I know, I know, that’s hardly a real issue.

Tomato soup with lentils

The kind of tomato soup I am talking about is not very likely to be found in restaurants, when push comes to shove, I don’t remember a single bowl of ordered tomato soup that left a lasting impression. Homemade tomato soups are a whole different story! One of my favorites has got to be my grandma’s – she pureed the plump and flavorful deep red fruits straight from her well maintained greenhouse, using her Flotte Lotte – handheld blenders were still to conquer German kitchens. The secret to her soup’s look and taste was the egg she had lightly beaten and stirred in just before serving, we kids loved the fancy look. Next in line is a tomato soup with roasted peppers. I think tomatoes and roasted peppers should seriously consider marriage, that’s how well they chime together. Or the one with a generous shot of booze (Vodka) and fennel.

You see, I wasn’t really in need of a good tomato soup recipe, when I stumbled upon this recipe from a dear colleague. Tanja Dusy is probably the most knowledgeable food writer I know when it comes to Indian cuisine. She has traveled the continent armed with her camera and recipe notebook, the last treats she pampered us with included a traditional white curry and the juiciest chocolate cake ever (with cardamom and fresh coconut). Her recipes have proved more than once to delight my palate in so many ways, and besides, an Indian version of a tomato soup would add some cosmopolitan flavor to my t-soup recipe repertoire, so why wait? The soup (my version is a little different) was prepared in the blink of an eye, the aroma of the roasted brown mustard seeds is too good to miss out on and while I’m thinking about proper terms to describe to you how addictive this spicy soup really is, I’m seriously considering having it again tomorrow. And the day after tomorrow.

Tomato soup with lentils

Heat the ghee in a large pot (medium heat), then add the ground cumin, chiles, garam masala as well as the minced garlic and sauté shortly while stirring.

Add the lentils, the canned, slightly mashed tomatoes (I discarded their stems beforehand) including the juice and the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, season with sugar, turmeric and salt, then let simmer for 20 to 30 minutes – a chatty friend on the other end of the telephone line won’t ruin your dinner, no worries.

If you prefer your soup smooth and silky, this is the time to turn to your [handheld] blender for some assistance – I prefer this one chunky, so no blender for me. In a small pan, roast the brown mustard seeds until they start to crackle and jump around, then add them to the soup. Adjust the soup’s seasoning to your liking and fill in bowls. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve with sour cream and bread.

Tomato soup with lentils - Indian style

Recipe source: Tanja Dusy, Küchengötter.de, adapted

Cooking time: ~30min.

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Ingredients (serves 2-3):

2 tbsp ghee

1/4 tsp cumin, freshly ground

2 small dried chiles, freshly ground

1/2 tsp garam masala

1 garlic clove, finely diced

50g red lentils

400g canned tomatoes, including juice

500ml vegetable stock

1 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp turmeric

salt

1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds

fresh cilantro, chopped

serve with sour cream and bread to taste

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