Sunday, June 23, 2013

Tomato Soup with Rice & Basil: Cooking Tessa Kiros for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

It's no secret that I love Tessa Kiros. I owned most of her books before cooking along with her for six months at I Heart Cooking Clubs. Her books are gorgeous and her recipes delicious. Her latest book, Recipes and Dreams From An Italian Life is no exception. One of the first recipes that caught my eye was this simple Tomato Soup with Rice and Basil. Because you want perfectly fresh and very ripe tomatoes and beautiful basil for this one, it is a best as a summer soup. It's homey and comforting but not too heavy making it perfect for a summer evening.  

Tessa says, "This is simple and summery, just the thing for when you have beautiful ripe tomatoes in your vegetable patch. How can it not be great with tomatoes, basil, olive oil and garlic."

Tomato Soup with Rice & Basil
Recipes and Dreams From An Italian Life by Tessa Kiros
(Serves 5 or 6)

5 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra, for serving
1 small red onion, chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, chopped
1 3/4 lbs very ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
12-15 basil leaves
5 cups hot water
1 scant cup short-grain white rice
8-10 Tbsp grated Parmesan, to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large pot and saute the onion until nicely golden and a bit sticky. Add the garlic and when it smells great, add the tomatoes. Bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper. Tear in about seven of the basil leaves and simmer for about 5 minutes or so, squashing down most of the tomato lumps with a potato masher. Add the hot water and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. 

Add the rice and simmer for another 20 minutes or so, putting the lid on at the end to prevent too much liquid from evaporating. It should be quite thick, but if it seems too thick just add a little hot water. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Serve in wide bowls. Tear a couple of basil leaves in half and add to each bowl. Scatter a heaping tablespoon or so of Parmesan over each and drizzle with a little olive oil. Grind a little black pepper over the top and serve.

Notes/Results: One of those soups that showcases the ingredients and proves that simple is best. I grabbed the tomatoes, soft and ripe, and just-picked-fresh basil from the farmers market and they shine beautifully in this soup. Go for the freshest and best ingredients you can get for this one. It does come out very thick but I like it that way. If you have leftovers, you might need to add a little more water or a light broth as the rice keeps absorbing the liquid as it sits. I served it with some Charred Leek Spread with Dill on Baguette from Grills Gone Vegan by Tamasin Noyes, a book I am in the process of reviewing. More on these soon.

This is what I call a "heavy sigh" soup. By that I mean that sitting down over the bowl with the tomato-basil aroma so tempting and a light layer of melting Parmesan cheese on top, you release a heavy sigh of satisfaction as you spoon the thick spoonfuls into your mouth. A definite keeper recipe. 

Since it is Potluck week at IHCC where we can cook any recipe from our current chef Yotam Ottolenghi or any former chef (like Tessa), I am linking this soup up there. You can see what chefs and recipes everyone brought to Potluck by following the links. 

Now let's step into the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here.

Janet of The Taste Space brings this golden Ravi's Curried Red Lentil and Apricot Soup and says, " has all the components of a great Indian dish: red lentils, tomato, a touch of coconut milk, garlic, ginger and curry powder. The dried apricots are what hold me from thinking this is an authentic Indian dish, but they work really well here. Chopped up in small pieces, you get bursts of sweetness that complement the savoury elements of the rest of the dish. Creaminess comes from the red lentils and just a hint of coconut milk."

My friend and fellow IHCC co-host Sue of Couscous & Consciousness shares a tasty Ottolenghi salad and says, "This Celeriac, Lentil & Hazelnut Salad, from Yotam Ottolenghi's book Plenty, was perfect.  It was suitably light when I wasn't feeling like anything too heavy.  Lentils always speak to me of comfort and nourishment.  And celeriac ... well, celeriac is one of my favourite winter vegetables, and is pricey enough in these parts to make me feel like I'm having something quite luxurious."

Sue's salad is on my roster to make next week, but this week at Kahakai Kitchen, I tried another Ottolenghi salad creation, this Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas, Caramelized Onion, Feta and Tarragon. In addition to the chickpeas, I added some home-dried blueberries and taosted pistachios for extra color and crunch. Full of interesting flavors and great texture, this was a perfect take-to-lunch-salad. 

Mireille of Chef Mireille's Global Creations has two salads to share this week. First up a delectable Roasted Tomato Salad. She says, "This is another recipe from Nigella Lawson. This super simple salad makes the perfect first course to start a summer meal. Roasting the tomatoes create a sweet flavor and super juicy tomatoes. It makes you realize why tomato is a fruit and not a vegetable."

Mireille's second salad is an exotic Paneer Mint Peach Salad. She says, "With protein, fruit, vegetable and dairy, this is a great salad, giving you a little of most of the food groups in one healthy bowl. Add some crackers or bread to eat with this salad and you'll have a complete balanced meal, with grains included also.

Thanks to everyone who joined in this week! If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the side bar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. Hi Deb,

    Your tomato soup with soup looks wonderful. It is now cold and wintery in Melbourne, Australia and I reckon that this soup will be great for us too!

    Nice to know you via blogging. Saw your blog through Joyce (my baking buddy). Wishing that I can be in Hawaii and eating well with healthy food, I'm now your latest follower. Hope to hear from you soon :D

    Zoe (Bake for Happy Kids,

  2. Couscous & ConsciousnessJuly 1, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    Oh, that is the quintessential summer soup, Deb. Looks gorgeous, but a good 6 months before I get to try that one :-) I so want this book of Tessa's, but think it will have to wait until after my holiday!!

    Lovely round-up as always - thanks for hosting.


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