As always, Amma promises you simple recipes, the kind that you will actually make and not longingly admire on the page. Considering how easy it is to get actually ripe tomatoes in India, it is a wonder that dry soup mixes even make it to market. Their appeal could be that they are popular in Western countries where the growing season is shorter and “vine ripened” tomatoes merit special announcement in the grocery store. Here we get tomatoes that are heavy with juice, red through and through and bursting with flavor.
The yumminess of this soup depends on the tomato so don’t try this if the inside of your tomato looks pale and hollow. Most of the soup mixes and cans use an inferior quality of tomato and add sugar, fat and artificial flavor to compensate. A fresh, ripe tomato
will be sweet, sour and savory all at the same time, and more so when cooked.
So here it is folks, tomato soup.
1 kg ripe tomato
6-8 cloves garlic
1 tsp ajwain or 1 TBS oregano leaves.
some basil or tulasi if you can get it
1 TBS oil
salt & lemon juice to taste. Vinegar is also an option.
1. Chop tomatoes into quarters or eighths. Place in a covered pot with 1-2 cm of water on the bottom. Bring to a boil and place in haybox or simmer 20 minutes until cooked. Drain some of the liquid and allow to cool a bit so that you can put the cooked tomatoes in your blender. Reserve the liquid and add it to the pot when you simmer the pureed tomatoes.
2. Sautee onion, garlic and ajwain till onion and garlic are translucent
3. Blend everything together well with a pinch of salt. Throw in some basil or oregano leaf if you have it.
4. Pour into a pot – preferably an iron wok, as pictured above. The theory is that the soup will absorb some iron while simmering. And your wok will shine afterwards! Add the liquid drained off from the tomatoes. If you feel it is too thick, add a few ounces of water, not too much.
5. Simmer for a little while, stirring occasionally. When the aroma beckons, taste it. Add salt if needed. A dash of lemon juice or vinegar enhances the flavor, especially if your tomatoes and onions are very sweet.
Note: Those who are used to a clear soup may wish to strain at this point. You can do this and use the pulp to make sauce for pasta or pizza. However there is no need, just blend it thoroughly and savor the whole tomato.
6. Garnish with basil or tulasi. Some people like to crush some red or black pepper on top.
Secret: Thicken this by simmering longer (and not adding water) and voilà! You have a sauce that you can spread on pizza.