To me, tomato is the epitome of summer. Bright, fresh and succulent, produce like this are a handful of things I look forward to in a dessert summer. Sliced, crushed, chopped, or stewed, its amazing how this fruit transforms a dish, nevertheless how its used.
Almost all our repertoires have a recipe for tomato soup. I have one too. The issue I initially faced was the colour. However red the tomato was, after cooking and straining the colour fades a bit. Add a carrot for body, it becomes orangish. Not that its unattractive, but I was looking for the fiery red that I start with. If only I could get a food colour. And the answer was lying in my vegetable crisper – beetroot.
You may have known this before, but it was a quite a find to me. Now I can make soup that looks as good as it tastes. In addition to adding the bright colour, beetroot also gives a faint earthy sweetness. But don’t go overboard, otherwise you will end up a purplish concoction.
This soup, thickened with a roux, tastes great whether served hot or cold. Serve with a salad for a light lunch or crusty bread/ crispy cracker for a light dinner.Cream of Tomato Soup
(serves 2)Tomatoes – 4, big, diced
Carrot – 1, small, diced
Shallots or leeks or red onion – ¼ cup, chopped
Celery – 1 stalk, chopped
Beet root – 2 tbsp, chopped
Green chilli – 1 or 2, chopped
Garlic – 3 cloves, chopped
Ginger – 1 inch piece, chopped
Cinnamon stick – 2 inches
Bay leaf – 1
SaltButter – ½ tbsp
All purpose flour – 1 tbsp
Low fat milk – about 2/3 cup
Freshly cracked pepperMethod
Take the ingredients listed above, from tomatoes through salt in a vessel and pressure cook until 2 whistles. Alternately, boil in a saucepan with ½ cup of water, for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables soft. Let cool. Fish out the bay leaf and cinnamon. Grind to a smooth paste and sieve. Don't use a sieve with fine holes, since we want the pulp to get through. Press hard and strain the juice and pulp, leaving only the skin and seeds of the tomato. Reserve the vegetable pulp.
In a sauce pan, melt butter over low flame and add the flour. Mix the flour thoroughly in the fat and let it toast for a minute to change color. When the flour turns light brown and smells toasty, pour milk while simultaneously stirring the contents of the sauce pan. Make sure there are no lumps and let the milk heat up. The milk will gently bubble and thicken up slightly. When that happens, add the tomato pulp, and mix thoroughly. Continue heating over low-medium flame, adding water if necessary. When the soup almost reaches a boil, switch off.
Check for seasoning and serve hot with freshly cracked pepper. Otherwise, cool completely on the counter and transfer to the refrigerator and cool for at least 30 minutes. Serve cold with a dollop of plain yogurt, if desired.