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The spices and aroma in this tomato soup take you straight back to the India of your childhood
We all need a warm hug now and then, literally and figuratively. Everywhere we look right now, there are stories of despair, pain and suffering. A sense of hopelessness pervades the air and the only conversation we seem to have is about the pandemic. Our whole lives seem to be in a constant state of upheaval and it takes a lot of conscious energy to stay positive and strong.
I have always felt that food can be a good healer; after all, it’s so intertwined with our memories and feelings. It doesn’t have to be a fancy meal, but simple food that transports us to a long-lost memory or reminds us of our loved ones. Like this tomato shorba.
A tomato shorba always takes me back to India. While growing up, going out to restaurants was a rare affair so I would get very excited at the opportunity. And at the restaurant, I would spend a long time studying the menu, as if it was part of my school curriculum. I always had to start with a soup and more often than not, it would always be this tomato shorba.
The most exciting part of the tomato shorba was the butter croutons that were served on top; it was the perfect textural and flavour component that made the simple shorba a delicious affair.
So I decided to re-create the simple no-frills tomato shorba to remind me of all those beautiful memories of home and childhood. With winter setting in, what could be more comforting than this creamy delicious soup topped with garlic butter croutons.
Tomato Soup/Shorba with Garlic Butter Croutons
For the soup
- 4 large tomatoes, diced
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 dried bay leaf
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ½ inch cinnamon bark
- 1 tsp garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp ginger, chopped
- ¼ tsp sugar
- Salt to season
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 650ml chicken (or veg) stock
- 1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves for garnish
- For the croutons
- 2 slices white bread, cut into even-sized squares
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
To prepare the soup
Heat oil in a heavy bottom pot and add bay leaf, cumin seeds and cinnamon bark. Fry for a few seconds till aromatic.
Next add garlic and ginger; sauté till the rawness goes away and then add the tomatoes along with sugar. Mix well and cook on medium heat till the tomatoes are soft.
Next add the stock along with the peppercorns. Taste and season with salt. Bring to boil and then simmer on low heat till the tomatoes are cooked through and mostly broken down.
Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon sticks; blitz the remaining contents till you get a smooth creamy soup.
Return the soup to pan and heat up just before serving.
Garnish with coriander leaves, croutons and crushed black pepper while serving.
To prepare the croutons
Add the butter and grated garlic to a pan and then place on low heat allowing the garlic to infuse into the butter.
Add the bread pieces and mix well to coat. Toast on low heat till crispy and golden.
The spices and aromatics make this soup distinctly Indian when compared to other tomato soup preparations. Using a homemade stock is best in terms of flavour but you could use good quality store-bought ones too. Also make sure that the tomatoes are really ripe for maximum flavour.
P.S.: If you are like me, you might need to make extra croutons. These disappear fast!
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