By now you know that my love affair with tomatoes is a hot and heavy one.
Over these last several weeks, I have incorporated tomatoes into every dish I could dream up. They’ve played starring roles and supporting roles in the likes of fresh salsa,
pizzas, salads, tomato pies,
sandwiches, egg dishes, tomato sauce,
curries, and stews. And I’ve eaten tomatoes just like apples with a little bit of salt. I have heart palpitations thinking about not being able to grab a fresh, local one whenever I want it. I realize this is not normal behavior. But I can’t help myself. I love them. So much.
A brilliant way to stretch out our time with these beauties is to make a big, fat pot of soup. I know it’s still pretty steamy outside, but you gotta strike while the iron is hot, so to speak. You can eat some soup now, in the comfort of your air conditioned home, and freeze the rest for later, when your hankering for the fresh tomato cannot otherwise be satiated.
Today I give you curried tomato soup, in honor of the lovely Kayla Pruett.
I think you’ll find that both the technique and the flavor components are familiar, and that the result is comforting in the most magnificent of ways.
I started by melting 3 tablespoons of butter in my soup pot, which is already beginning to feel the effects of my busy year of cooking. I guess Calphalon wasn’t prepared for just how many soups, stews, chilis, and sauces (including queso dip) I’d be making in that pot.
And then, you know what I did. I added 1 diced onion and a pinch of salt.
This gave me time to chop and mince.
That’s about 5 cups of fresh tomatoes. Once the onions had softened, I added 4 or 5 cloves of minced garlic, about an inch and a half chunk of chopped ginger, and one red jalapeno from the farm. Heat = good when it comes to curry.
When I could smell the garlic and ginger wafting towards me, I knew it was time to brace myself for the quickness. I heated 1 cup of milk and added 3 tablespoons of flour to my pot, turning the heat up to medium high.
And I stirred for one full minute.
and then added my milk,
which is incredible tricky to do when you’re trying to stir and take a photo. Do not attempt that at home.
Stir, stir, stir. And wow. That milk started bubbling and thickening up right away. So, I poured in my can of coconut milk.
Still stirring, and blown away by the swirling smells, I turned my heat down to about medium. In just a couple of minutes, the coconut milk was hot and beginning to simmer too. So, I squeezed in the juice of a lime and stirred in my broth. I used about 3 cups.
The broth began to warm up and I went ahead with my seasoning. A heaping tablespoon of curry powder and a pinch of hot Indian pepper.
I stirred in those spices and BAM! I had yellow soup!
That’s the turmeric spreading its wings. I peeled and broke a stalk of lemongrass in half and let that float in the pool. And I added a pinch of salt and pepper, because that makes everything better. I let the flavors mingle and intertwine for about 10 – 15 minutes, maintaining a simmer. And the scent grew more intoxicating. Then, it was time to add the tomatoes.
Red and luscious. Usually, I let my broth and seasonings simmer a bit longer before adding the key ingredient, but since the tomatoes contribute so much of their own liquid to the soup, I wanted to give them time to cook down as well.
Another 30 minutes or so passed by, soup bubbling away, reducing little by little.
Lastly, I scooped out about half a can of tomato paste and stirred that in to the liquid. Tomato paste adds some tang and sweetness inherent in the tomato, and brings those flavors to the forefront. I let it go for another 5 minutes and then, I got out my trusty stick blender. Oh- remember to take out your lemongrass at this point. If you happen to forget- and blend it, which I have done, you will anger your stick blender and leave fibrous pieces in your soup, prompting you to strain the whole thing. Not a horrible problem, but, the lemongrass infuses itself into the broth and can be thanked and discarded.
It’s not yellow any more!! Beautiful! At this point, taste your soup and adjust your salt, pepper, and heat to your liking and call it a day.
I garnished my soup with a little bit of fresh cilantro and basked in the gorgeous color for a minute. The flavors in this soup do something to my soul. The way the creamy coconut milk complements the tang and sweetness of the tomatoes and the spiciness of the pepper and ginger and earthiness of the curry is just wonderful. I can’t describe it except that it feels so well-rounded to me. Balanced. Satisfying. Harmonious.
So maybe one day soon, you’ll feel like working up a sweat in your kitchen. Or maybe you’ll crank your AC way down and blast some Michael Jackson and get to work. Either way, I hope that you will take advantage of the illustrious tomato (in a respectful way) before it’s too late and cook yourself a pot of this loveliness. I want you to enjoy every last slurp.
Happy cooking and eating,