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This winter has been harsh in the Indian National Capital region (NCR) and the chills don’t seem to go away. What the cold does to me is makes me want to eat even more than I already do and it’s not the healthy grilled vegetables kind of stuff. The cravings are for chole bhature, pooris, cakes, chocolate, fries, toast with butter and jam and spicy meat curries etc – you get the point right? So while shivering in my boots and trying to rid myself of the effects of all of the above indulgences over the past three months, I’ve turned to hearty, healthy and ‘meaty’ soups.
My roasted tomato soup is one of those wonderful creations which even my children jump up and down (with joy) in anticipation of. Okay more so because of the yummy puffs of mozzarella and deep fried croutons that elevate this soup from yummy to fabulous in their case. It is a very, very simple soup and all the roasting especially of the garlic give it a very nice and mellow flavour. And the croutons and the mozzarella are the indulgence bit.
In all tomato soups, the main flavour comes from – lets take a wild guess ————— the tomatoes! The more ripe and better the quality of tomatoes, the more intense colour and flavour you’ll get. Try to get the sweeter variety of tomatoes not the sour variety. Most people add canned tomatoes or tomato paste to intensify the tomato flavour of their soup, but what do you do if you don’t have that and don’t want to add any canned stuff? Tomato puree tastes terrible, giving it that artificial aftertaste. I add some regular white vinegar – not too much – which instantly elevates the taste from bland to something with a bit of a kick. You could even add a couple of sweet sundried tomatoes while blending the concoction.
The soup is very simple and will use mostly all that you have in the pantry on a regular day and I suggest you always keep a stock of dried basil and oregano. They come in handy for many many dishes. And the best thing – no laborious chicken stock, just plain ol’ water, and no cream. The trick to getting a really creamy soup is blending it really really well. My Vitamix blender has been a Godsend here because its capabilities of fine blending are nothing short of magical. So let’s get down to it and show you how its done.
Ingredients (Serves 5)
1 kg ripe red tomatoes
1 medium red onion
1 medium carrot
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil
2 tbsp olive oil
2½ tsp Himalayan pink salt (can use any other salt)
900 ml water
1 tbsp sugar
½ tbsp vinegar
30 gms whole garlic pods + dash of olive oil
Croutons (1 cm cubes of bread deep fried in oil)
Fresh mozzarella or bocconcini diced into ½ cm pieces (optional)
Get Started (Pictorial steps below)
- Preheat an oven to 200°C with both top and bottom heating rods on.
- Hull the tomatoes by removing just the tough white part on the top where the stem attaches. Then remove the seeds and chop each half into four.
- Cut the onion into large chunks and separate the layers and cut the carrot into large pieces.
- Peel the garlic pods and wrap them in aluminium foil after drizzling some oil on them.
- In a baking tray, add the tomatoes, carrot, onion, basil, oregano and the olive oil and mix well. Then add the garlic pod in the aluminium foil to one corner.
- Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes then take the pan out of the oven. Open the foil with the garlic pod and add the roasted garlic into the pan with the tomatoes.
- Cool the mixture down then whizz it in a blender with 400 ml of water till absolutely smooth. There should be no chunks.
- Transfer the soup to a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the salt, vinegar and sugar and the remaining 500 ml of water and heat on the gas for about 10 minutes till it thickens a bit. Check to see if you need more salt or any other condiments. You can control the consistency of the soup. If you want it thin, add more water, but then you will have to adjust the seasoning (salt) again.
- Ladle the soup into individual soup bowls and garnish with deep fried or roasted bread croutons. You can finely dice some fresh mozzarella and add it to the soup for a lovely fluffy pop of cheese (my kids love this).