Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Tomato Soup (in winter) - Part 4

The "fabled" recipe at long last!


3 lbs tomatoes (chop them in eighths -- fast and simple)
2 large red onions diced coarsely
1 large potato diced coarsely
1 tbsp whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2-3 tbsp cumin seeds (read below!)
2 tbsp "home-made" tomato paste (but substitute commercial, you wimps!)
salt to taste
3 tbsp of olive oil

Required Kitchen Instrument

Food mill


The recipe is simple but don't try to "hurry" it. Patience is rewarded. You can coax good taste out of crappy-ass winter tomatoes. Trust me!

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the onions, and the let them "sweat" (as the Italians say.) When the onions are dark pink (but not caramelized), add 1 tbsp of the cumin, the bay leaves, all the peppercorns and saute for a whole minute.

Then, add the tomatoes, and turn the heat down real low (this is the patience part.) Let the tomatoes slowly "melt", and release their juices. This will try your patience as it will take the better part of anywhere between 20-40 minutes. Resist the temptation to turn up the heat. When the fat rises to the surface...

Skim, baby, skim!

When done skimming, add the potatoes, cover the pot, and let it stew for 20 mins or so, on medium heat. The fat's in the pot. No point in the low heat now.

What you need to do is pass this soupy mixture through a food mill but in the interest of time, effort, and the general hatred of washing up dishes, read below!

In a separate pot, heat 1 tbsp of oil. Add 2 tbsp of cumin, fry for 15 seconds. Then add the tomato paste. While this is frying, place the food mill over the second pot, and add the stuff from the first pot into the food mill, and start rotating.

Rotate, baby, rotate!

When you are bored, toss the crap in the food mill away. Let the other stuff come to a gentle rolling boil for a while, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the salt to taste.

Ambrosia, baby, ambrosia!

Honest Confessions:

1. In the interest of being complete, if the soup is too tart which it may very well be, thanks to crappy-ass tomatoes (F**K YOU, genetically modified, crappy-ass tomatoes!), add some sugar to balance the taste. Marcella Hazan, the doyen of Italian food cooking, recommends this, and even though this is an Indian recipe, who am I to argue with her?

(To be fair, if you need to do this with tomatoes at the height of summer, your cooking skills suck!)

2. The CC used 2 potatoes producing a thicker soup, and had to thin it.

3. Don't bother peeling the potatoes. The CC wasted his time. The food mill will take care of it. DOH!

4. I've seen cooks fry curry leaves in the very first step. Didn't have any so didn't add them.

5. I wish I had used more cumin. So will you!


Cheshire Cat said...

Hmmm, peppersorns... I wonder why they aren't used more in Indian cooking?

Cheshire Cat said...

Sorry, "peppercorns". And hmmm, that "h" should have been an "m"...

ShockingSchadenfreude said...

Peppercorns used to be the traditional flavoring before new world spices like chili peppers hit India.

Some of the original royal cookbooks are heavy on the pepper.