Sunday, September 30, 2012

Madhur Jaffrey's "My Cream of Tomato Soup"--A Classic Made Indian Style (& Dairy-Free) For Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I didn't really eat tomato soup until a few years ago and I never went through that whole childhood grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup phase. I found canned cream of tomato soup to be gross and so "sick day" soup meal of choice was a grilled cheese sandwich paired with chicken noodle soup. Tastes change and when I was exposed to really good tomato soup, the creamier the better--say a tomato bisque, I began to develop a strong like for it. My 10-Minute Vita-Mix Thai Creamy Tomato Soup is my go-to, and I wanted to try Madhur Jaffrey's "My Cream of Tomato Soup"--with some similar ingredients, but more of an Indian-style version of the classic.

Madhur Jaffrey is the new chef that we are cooking along with over the next six months at I Heart Cooking Clubs. This week we are welcoming her and I find nothing more welcoming that a bowl of warm soup. The recipe comes from my first Madhur Jaffrey cookbook and one of my oldest cookbooks; Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking. Published in 1981 and picked up used, sometime in the late 80's, this book has traveled from Portland to Seattle to Honolulu with me. Jaffrey's recipe is vegetarian, I made mine dairy-free/vegan with a few simple substitutions--Earth Balance spread instead of butter, cashew cream in place of dairy cream and light coconut milk in place of regular milk. The result is beyond creamy with a nice hint of spices.

Jaffray says, "Cream of tomato soup has been adopted by India with a passion. The same small coffeehouses that offer the most traditional dosas and vegetable pakoris also have, to the surprise of many Americans, tomato soup on their menus. When cooking tomato soup in their homes, most Indians cannot resist putting in a few spices or herbs. My sister-in-law, for example, puts in fresh curry leaves from the tree that grows just outside her kitchen door. The soup becomes immediately aromatic. In New York, I put in dried curry leaves, more for the aroma I remember than for the limited flavor provided by the dried leaves, as well as ginger, ground roasted cumin, and a few other things besides. Here is my tomato soup, which can be had hot or cold."

My Cream of Tomato Soup 
From Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking
(Serves 4-6)

1 1/2 lbs red-ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp dried, sliced lemon grass
1 Tbsp dried or fresh curry leaves
1 quarter-sized slice of fresh ginger
1 1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbsp unsalted butter (I used Earth Balance spread)
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream (I used cashew cream)
2 1/2 cups milk (I used coconut milk)
1/2 tsp ground roasted cumin seeds
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp lemon or lime juice
1 Tbsp minced fresh Chinese parsley (cilantro)

Combine the tomatoes, lemon grass, curry leaves, ginger, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup water in a 2 1/2-quart pot and bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat, and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Uncover, turn heat to medium, and simmer  little more aggressively for another 15 minutes. Put the tomatoes through a sieve. You should have about 2 cups of thick tomato juice. Bring this juice to a simmer and keep on a very low flame.

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the flour. Stir and cook the flour on low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Do not let it brown. Now pour in the hot tomato juice, stirring all the time. Add the cream and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Stir to mix and bring to a simmer. Add all the other ingredients except the Chinese parsley. Stir to mix. Heat over a medium flame. As soon as the soup is about to come to a boil, turn off the heat. 

Ladle the soup into warmed soup bowls and serve garnished with a little minced Chinese parsley. If you wish to serve the soup cold, stir in occasionally as it cools so it does not form a thick film. Then cover and refrigerate. 

Notes/Results: Probably one of the creamiest tomato soups I have eaten/made between thickening the mixture with flour, the cream and milk (or in my case cashew cream and coconut milk). All of the flavors come through--the sweetness of tomatoes, the ginger and lemongrass, the smokey spice of the cumin and the little bit of heat from the cayenne. As Jaffrey says, the curry leaves add more to the aroma (this one smells delicious while cooking), so add them if you can find them. I buy curry leaves when I come across them in the Indian market and Whole Foods and keep them in a Ziploc in the freezer--ready to be tossed into a dish. I liked it best warm, but this soup does work well cold--I added another squeeze of lemon to the cold version. Served with some garlic nan bread, it was a satisfying dinner. I would make this soup again. 

I am a day early for our Welcome Madhur Jaffrey! theme, but I will be linking this up when the post goes up over there. You'll be able to check out how the other IHCC participants welcome Madhur by going to the post and following the links.

Let's stop by the Souper Sunday's kitchen for the roundup of this week's dishes.

I am always delighted to have my pal Stephanie The Happy Sorceress at Dispensing Happiness here at Souper Sundays. This week she has a 'quicker and easier" version of Italian Wedding Soup that she made in both a carnivore and veggie version. Stephanie says, "For something that came together quickly & with so few ingredients, it was surprisingly good. Matt & I prefer to brown our meatballs before adding to anything liquid, but despite a short cooking time, they came out nicely-done. Results were flavorful, but not overwhelming.

Pam of Sidewalk Shoes made a delectable Creamy Potato Soup with Bacon Vinaigrette this week and says, "This was the best potato soup I have ever eaten or made.  Seriously.  I don’t think I’ve ever used rosemary in my potato soups – it was wonderful.  But really the show stopper…the bacon vinaigrette.  I love the addition of vinegar to soups and keep a bottle of chili pepper vinegar just for stirring into your soup at the table, everyone adding as much or as little they like. So this was beyond amazing."

Graziana of Erbe in Cucina made this pretty Rice Salad with Paprika and Chives and says, "September is the time of year when there are still summer harvests, and I have already started planning what to grow next spring. This light and tasty rice salad is representative of this period, because it uses fresh harvested chives and cucumbers, and a variety of paprika purchased at the market, which I hope to grow next year."

Finally Janet of The Taste Space is sharing a she salad made into a roll--these creative Quinoa Wraps with Sweet Potato, Tofu Feta and a Sweet Tahini Dipping Sauce. She says, "Ottolenghi called this a quinoa salad, but really it is a quinoa-basmati-wild rice salad. The mix of grains tickles the tongue with the contrasting textures. They are paired with roasted sweet potatoes in a savoury dressing with sauteed sage and oregano and fresh mint."

Thanks to Stephanie, Pam, Graziana and Janet for sharing their dishes this week. If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on my side bar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. Fresh curry leaf is sometimes available at Honolulu farmers markets. Try MA'O or Pit Farms. I've seen it at Kokua market as well (probably from MA'O).

  2. Thanks Nan. I have found it occasionally at the farmers markets too. Whole Foods stocks it often--locally grown as well.

  3. "Chinese parsley" - wow it has been a LONG time since I saw coriander referred to that way! Great-sounding soup!

  4. Joanne @ eats well with othersOctober 1, 2012 at 12:41 AM

    I do have a soft spot in my heart for really good tomato soup...all the better if it's infused with Indian spices! Mmm.

  5. Beautiful comforting dish to start off the season with, and nicely paired with the breads!

  6. Ahh!! Cream of tomato is one my favorite starter, speciall for winter suppers. Love it.
    First time here. Glad to follow you.

  7. Somehow Indian cuisine and tomato soup don't seem to go, but hers sounds delicious. I am always up for experimenting with soupl

  8. Like you, Deb, I never grew up feeling the love for tinned tomato soup either - always thought it was awful. In more recent years though I've developed a roasted tomato soup that I make in the height of the season that I like, and after a couple of trips to Spain I've also got a taste for Gazpacho. Really like the idea of this version with all it's spices.

  9. I love tomato soup, but have never tried it Indian style before. This looks delicious, I think that I would like this served warm as I have always prefer warm soups over cold! A wonderful welcome bowl of soup indeed!

  10. Sounds like a great soup.
    See you at IHCC during the winter.

  11. Don't you love it when you get out your older cookbooks from years ago? So much fun. Love this spiced up version of tomato soup. You garnished it very pretty!


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