indian spiced tomato and coconut soup

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Indian Spiced Tomato Soup Ingredients 1

I made it a point to try and cook my way through Gordon Ramsay’s Great Escape. It’s an exceptional cookbook that he developed after completing a trip through India to learn about their cuisine and culture. There is also a short TV series about his travels through the country and is a great view into the country’s culinary landscape. I have worked through close to 75% of the recipes and there was only one that I didn’t like and many of them have been made multiple times to rave reviews.

Indian Spiced Tomato Soup Spices

I have made this recipe for Spiced Tomato and Coconut Soup before, but I was missing one optional ingredient, asafoetida, the first time I made it and I think I also didn’t quite make it right. So I was determined to make it in its entirety this go around and to find the mystery spice I was missing. I thought I knew spices and herbs pretty well, but even I was stumped when I first saw “asafoetida” in the ingredients list. Luckily Gordon has a little glossary in the book to help with some of the less common stuff and he had this description available:
Asafoetida – A spice made from the resinous gum of the Ferula assafoetida plant. Mostly sold in powdered form, asafoetida is used in tiny quantities as a digestive aid to fight off indigestion and flatulence…Raw asafoetida has a very pungent, rather disagreeable odor that seems to disappear once cooked to leave a mellow, slightly sweet tang that is similar to that of roasted onions and garlic…

Tomato Soup Ingredients - Asafoetida

So he lightly warns you about the “disagreeable odor,” but doesn’t quite tell you that once you open the small container of it that it will create a ten foot bubble of smell that will linger for weeks if left alone. I have never experienced a spice with such staying power before. I would highly recommend transferring the spice to a very air tight container after purchase or to do as I did and put the whole container into a Ziploc bag to contain the smell. It does smell much like what you would imagine from a tree resin (except times 100) and the taste after cooking is very mellow and pleasant. And, from what I can tell it does its job as neither of us reported any indigestion or flatulence after enjoying this soup.

Indian Spiced Tomato Soup - Cooking 1Indian Spiced Tomato Soup - Cooking 2Indian Spiced Tomato Soup - Coconut Milk

Oh, and I almost forgot one very proud point about this recipe. I don’t know what the bay leaf situation is like where you live, but I hadn’t been able to find fresh (not dried) leaves for about 5 years here. Then suddenly as I wandered through the neat little supermarket in the lower level of the Enjoy Centre I noticed a beautiful little container of organic fresh bay leaves! You know you are a foodie when you get really excited upon finding those difficult to find ingredients. I was so excited I couldn’t wait to tell my fiancee about my amazing find and she responded with a “you’re so cute” look of puzzlement. If you are wondering, I put them into a Ziploc bag and freeze them for when I need them. I find their flavour holds up better when frozen than when dried, hence why I try so hard to find them fresh.

Indian Spiced Tomato Soup - Finished 1

Spiced Tomato and Coconut Soup
Based on a recipe from Gordon Ramsay’s Great Escape
Serves 4

Ingredients 
(I broke it into sections to help with prep)
500g tomatoes (I used 4 regular greenhouse variety ones since I figured plum tomatoes might make this taste more like a pasta sauce) and a Serrated Peeler

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2.5cm ginger, peeled and chopped
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped (we use enough of these we buy a package of them from an Asian grocer and then freeze them so they are always on hand)
1/2 tsp dried fenugreek, crushed with a pinch of salt (you can finally use that mortar and pestle)
1 bay leaf (fresh if possible)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin

100g tomato puree (I assume he means paste since I know Brits often refer to it as “puree”. I used only 50g, but the stuff I used is “triple concentrated” and I found it to be a great amount)

400ml tin coconut milk (shake it up before opening)

1 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
pinch of asafoetida (optional, but try to find it if only for the experience)
handful of coriander (aka cilantro) leaves
2 tbsp toasted flaked coconut (I used unsweetened shredded)

  1. The first step it to skin the tomatoes. There are two ways to do this, the easy way and the hard way. The easy way is to use a Serrated Peeler (just get one and thank me later) and peel them using it, or you can blanch the tomatoes. To blanch them you cut a cross in the top and bottom of each tomato and drop them into a pot of boiling water for 20 seconds. Then you drop them into iced water to refresh and cool them. At this point the skins should be pretty loose and you can peel them with your hands (or so the theory goes – I hate this way and I often curse at the skin that doesn’t like coming off). Either way, remove the skins and then roughly chop the flesh.
  2. In a large pot (big enough to make soup for 4 people), heat the oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, ginger, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the onions begin to soften.
  3. Stir in the chilies, fenugreek, bay leaf, turmeric, and cumin and cook for another 3-4 minutes. This will toast the spices and release their flavour.
  4. Add the tomato paste (aka puree) and stir into the onion mixture. Then add the chopped tomatoes, coconut milk, and a tin of water. Stir well to combine.
  5. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for 15-20 minutes when the tomatoes should be very soft and be mostly broken down.
  6. Puree the soup with a stick blender (attached a link to the one we have and love), regular blender (I avoid this at all costs because I usually end up with hot soup all over), or food processor. You can push the soup through a fine sieve if you are looking for a really smooth soup or are trying to impress a fussy mother-in-law. Season well with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Heat the coconut or vegetable oil in a small frying pan.  When hot, add the cumin and asafoetida. As the cumin pops and becomes fragrant, add the oil and spices to the soup and stir well.
  8. Ladle the soup into warm bowls and top with toasted coconut and coriander. We served this with warm naan bread to create a nice meal out of it.
    Enjoy!
Indian Spiced Tomato Soup - Finished 2

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