School has ended for the year, and the garden is bigger than ever. Before I get the summer ball rolling here in Spoon land, I thought I’d share the companion recipe for my Indian roasted cauliflower. I first tasted a curried tomato soup at a fantastic restaurant in Denver, Vesta dipping grill. It was served in little shot glasses as an amuse bouche, and I have to say, my bouche was thoroughly amuse-d. I asked the server for as much information as I could get, and scratched down the idea in my little recipe journal.
Getting waiters and waitresses to divulge ingredients to recipes is sneaky business. I act like the obliviously curious customer. What is this made of?!? Then I take a couple of guesses…I taste ginger…and what else did the chef use? Once I figure out the main components, I scribble the idea down, and run with it. Great chefs are innovators, and I often find my best recipes come from trying to recreate flavors I’ve eaten in restaurants.
This curried tomato-coconut soup is like classic tomato soup, with an Indian twist from fresh ginger, garlic, toasted spices, and curry powder. The combining of the roasted cauliflower (last post), and the tomato soup was completely by chance. I originally made the dishes to be eaten separately, but when everyone at the dinner table stirred cauliflower into their soup, I knew they were a match.
Next time you need a little inspiration in the kitchen, try re-creating one of your favorite dishes from a local eatery. And remember, when asking waiters and chefs to divulge their secret ingredients, a little stealthiness, obliviousness, and friendliness goes a long way!
Curried Tomato-Coconut Soup (with Indian Spiced Roasted Cauliflower)
Makes about 4 servings
If you look down the recipe list, the addition of sweet vermouth in an Indian spiced soup may strike you as odd. However, it (as well as it’s cousin, dry vermouth) has become one of my favorite secret ingredients to use in soups and sauces to add depth. White wine would make a good substitute, as it enhances the flavor of tomatoes.
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 3 1/2 teaspoons madras curry powder, or regular curry powder (look here for more info)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons sweet vermouth or white wine (optional)
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- juice from 1/2 lemon, about a tablespoon
- 1/4 cup minced cilantro
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Garnish with Indian-Spiced Roasted Cauliflower if desired
1) Add the ginger, garlic, and 3 tablespoons water to the bowl of a food processor. Process until it turns to a paste/pureed consistency.
2) Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-hight heat. Add the cumin seeds, and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, until they start to lightly brown and smell toasted. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the ginger-garlic paste, ground cumin, coriander, madras curry powder, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for additional minute, stirring and scraping the ginger garlic paste that sticks on the bottom of the pan.
3) Add the sweet vermouth and stir until it almost evaporates. Add the coconut milk, broth and tomatoes. Stir to incorporate, season again with salt to taste, and allow to simmer, uncovered for 25 minutes.
4) Blend the soup using an immersion blender, or in small batches in a blender (if using a normal blender, allow the soup to cool slightly and use a dish towel to hold the top on the blender while blending)
5) Stir in the cilantro and lemon juice, then season once again to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve hot, and garnish with Indian Spiced Roasted Cauliflower if desired.