Double Tomato Soup

Is it Winter yet? Not officially, I guess, but I’d argue that as soon as we get into the “Holiday Season”, it’s unofficially Wintertime. I’m not a big fan of cold weather, but I do love me some soup. You may have guessed, if we’ve been acquainted for long, that I eat soup pretty much all year round. This is my current favorite.

In the Chinese medicine point of view, Winter is associated with the element (or phase) of Water. And the kidneys are ruled by water. This is why you may have problems this time of year with things relating to your kidneys (and bladder), your lady or man parts, and your lower back (cause that’s where the kidneys hang out).  It’s important for everyone to stay warm, but if you tend towards any of these issues, you want to take extra care to keep your lower back covered all the time (tuck in that shirt!). Along these lines, the Kidney channel begins on the soles of your feet, so to keep your back from going out, I suggest buying a pair of warm slippers and never letting your feet get cold, because that cold travels straight up to your kidneys.

Another way to keep warm on the inside is eating warm things. This soup is great because you don’t need any super-perishable ingredients. You can keep everything around for weeks or even months most of it, and when you find yourself without and fresh veggies, you know you’ve got that can of tomatoes stashed away, just waiting to become tomato soup. The “double” tomato comes from sun-dried tomatoes, which you’ll want to keep packaged tightly so they don’t dry out. I also used some (optional) dried chilies, because they add another layer of depth to the flavor. You may find it strange to add bread to a soup, but I love the creaminess it adds without resorting to actual cream. I’ve been heating up the leftovers, and this is even better the next day. The dried tomatoes and chilies really give it a special earthy richness. It’s a keeper.

Double Tomato Soup

2-3 T, olive oil
1 onion, sliced
fine grain sea salt
1 tsp. sugar
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
2 slices of bread (any bread works, especially stale)
1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes (not the oil packed kind)
1 dried chili (optional – I used a large mild Aji chili, for more heat use a smaller, hotter chili like chipotle or chili de arbol)
3-4 c. vegetable stock
to garnish choose from: creme fraiche or sour cream, toasted almonds, olive oil drizzle, smoked paprika, cubed avocado, chopped basil or cilantro.

Heat the oil in a big pot over medium low. Add the onion, a pinch or two of salt and the sugar and cook until the onion is soft and translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Pour in the tomatoes, then stir in the bread, sundried tomatoes, chili, and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the sun dried tomatoes are soft.

Remove from heat and puree, either with an immersion blender (my fave, fast and easy way) or in batches in a blender or food processor.

To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with whatever your heart desires. I used creme fraishe, toasted almonds, smoked paprika and a drizzle of olive oil.

serves 4-6

Thanksgiving Ideas

As a kid, my Thanksgivings consisted of a long drive to and from Grandma’s house, canned green bean and cream of mushroom soup casserole, and a large, rambunctious Italian family yelling at the Cleveland Browns on TV. And two bowls of cereal. One before we left and one after we got home at the end of the day, so that I didn’t starve.

Boy, I do love being an adult, because now I can cook some delicious meals for myself, family and friends. If your Thanksgiving meal plan hasn’t yet been set in stone, here are a few more ideas from around the web.

Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes - from 101 Cookbooks

Mini Apple Galettes - from Naturally Ella

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash - from Love and Lemons

Roasted Butternut and Coconut Soup - from Green Kitchen Stories

Whole Roasted Tandoori Cauliflower – from My New Roots

Garnet Pilaf – from Sprouted Kitchen

Fall Vegetable Slaw with Hot + Sweet Ginger Dressing – from The First Mess

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad – from Happyolks

Cider Punch – from Not Without Salt

Truffled Delicata and Wheatberry Salad - from Me!

What are you making for Thanksgiving?

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili

It’s been a while. I promise, I haven’t forgotten about you, I’ve just been so busy learning. It turns out that going to school, and working, and taking care of kitties, and blogging, is a lot of stuff to do. I wish I had a ton of cool Oriental Medicine tidbits to share, but so far it’s been mostly learning where all the muscles are – where they attach to the bones, and what they do. Plus lots of memorizing of acupuncture points. Cause no one wants an acupuncturist who puts the needles in the wrong place!

Somewhere, in the midst of all this craziness, I whipped up a pot of very special chili. Sweet potatoes and bell peppers and black beans. A bit of cinnamon (like they do in Cincinnati), cocoa, beer and a tiny drizzle of maple syrup. I promise this isn’t a sweet chili,  all this just adds a great complex flavor. You’re gonna love it.

Oh, and I have managed to pick up one fun fact that I can’t seem to work into a cute story that ultimately leads to dinner. In Chinese Medicine, the lungs are associated with the skin; and the skin is even sometimes referred to as the third lung. After all, it does do a bit of breathing through your pores. So, a very insightful teacher of mine suggested that if you have lung trouble, then you shouldn’t get tattooed.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

1-2 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 small chilies (a jalepeno is good for less heat, a serrano or 2 for more), minced
1 tsp. cumin seeds (or ground)
1 tsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. fine grain sea salt
1-2 lbs. sweet potatoes (2 medium, or 4 baby), in 3/4″ to 1″ dice
1 bell pepper, diced
1 c. lager, stout, or other beer
1 28 oz. can or crushed tomatoes (fire roasted if you can find ‘em)
1 15 oz. can of black beans, rinsed (about 1 1/2 c.)
2 T. maple syrup
for garnish: creme fraiche or sour cream, or avocado for vegans, chopped fresh herbs

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium. Add the onion and turn the heat down to medium low. Cook about 5 minutes, then add the garlic, chilies, cumin, cocoa, cinnamon and salt. Cook for a minute, until everything smells amazing, then stir in the potatoes and pepper, and stir to coat.

After a few minutes, pour in the beer to deglaze the pot (use your wooden spoon to scrape the stuck bits off the bottom). When it comes to a boil and starts to thicken a bit, add the tomatoes. You may need a little water to cover the vegetables, add it in now. Bring the whole thing to a boil, turn down to low, and simmer, covered for about 30 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are soft.

Stir in the beans and the maple syrup. If it’s too thick for you, add some more water. Taste and adjust the seasoning – keep adding pinches of salt until the flavor pops. It will depend on your salt and how much water you had to add. Cook for another few minutes to marry the flavors. Serve topped with the creme fraiche and chopped herbs.

serves 4-6

Thai Curry Squash Soup

There’s nothing more exciting about changing seasons than finding the new produce at the farmer’s market. Well, except maybe the wardrobe changes. It’s a toss up. For so many of my friends, this is their favorite season; for the weather, the boots, the apples, scarves and squashes. This one is for you.

Red Thai curry paste gets mashed with garlic and coats big chunks of butternut (or whatever your favorite is) squash. In goes the stock – cook til tender. Puree and add coconut milk. Easy peasy. I bet you can come up with way more exciting garnishes than this, I just threw on some cilantro and toasted pumpkin seeds. Have at it, and if you come up with something great, please share with us. I can imagine this would be great with a small kabocha or a few delicata squashes, both are quite sweet and have edible skins, which eliminates the most time-consuming part of this recipe, peeling the squash.

Thai Curry Squash Soup

1 T. coconut oil
1 T. red Thai curry paste
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small-ish butternut squash, or another squash you like – about 2-3 lbs., peeled and cut into chunks
3 c. vegetable stock
1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk (not lite)
sea salt to taste
toasted pumpkin seeds and chopped cilantro to garnish

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the curry paste and squish around for about a minute, then add the garlic. Keep stirring for another 30 seconds, then add the squash. Toss to coat the chunks in the curry mixture, then pour in the stock. Bring to a boil, turn to low and simmer, covered, until tender, about 20-30 minutes.

Turn off the heat and puree – I used an immersion (stick) blender, which makes pretty easy, fast work of this, but if all’s you’ve got is a regular blender, fear not. Just transfer the soup in batches, making sure to vent the blender. When all the soup is smooth and back in the pot, add the coconut milk. Turn the heat back on, to about medium low, and cook for a few minutes to work in the milk. During this time, taste, and depending on the saltiness of your stock, you may need to add more salt. Keep adding, pinch by pinch, until the flavors pop.

Serve topped with the pumpkin seeds and cilantro.

serves 4-6


Chickpea & Kale Stew

According to Chinese Medicine, insomnia and low self-esteem are both partly caused by weak blood (go figure). The traditional remedy is to drink/eat some blood…uh, no thanks. How about nourishing the blood with a warm filling stew instead? This one has hearty chickpeas for protein, tahini for iron and kale for, well, everything!

This might not be the meal to make if you’ve gotta get dinner on the table in a hurry – though with the shortcuts below we can get it down to less than an hour. But if you have the time, and especially if you’re going for that super nourishing thing, cooking the chickpeas from scratch is really worth it. Not only are they way cheaper, but they taste so much better, and the cooking liqueur acts as a vegetable stock and flavors the whole pot. If you don’t have time to wait though, you can use canned. Just start with cooking the onions, spices and garlic right in the soup pot, then add stock and the potatoes. When the taters are almost done add the drained and rinsed chickpeas to the pot with the kale. Speaking of kale, I really love lacinato in this. It’s not a requirement, but be aware if you use regular kale that it will take a bit longer to soften in the pot.

Chickpea & Kale Stew

2/3 c. dried chickpeas, soaked for at least an hour (to use canned, see the note above)
1-2 lbs. small potatoes, cut in big cubes
1 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. sea salt
2 T. tahini
1 small bunch kale, finely chopped
1/4 c. toasted pine nuts

Drain chickpeas from their soaking liquid and place in a large soup pot with 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then turn down, cover and simmer for about an hour. Keep in mind the cooking times for beans is approximate, depending on the age of your beans.

After an hour your chickpeas should be starting to soften (if it happens earlier, then don’t wait the whole hour). Don’t wait until they are completely cooked because they still have another 1/2 hour to go. Add the potatoes, make sure the stew comes back up to a simmer, and keep cooking for another 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are fairly soft, but not totally done.

After 10-20 minutes of the potato cooking, heat the olive oil in a separate skillet over medium low. Add the onions and spices and cook until the onion is soft, 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic and salt and stir, giving the whole thing another minute or so. Scoop out about a 1/4 c. of the cooking liquid from the pot into another container. Whisk (I used a fork) the tahini into the liquid until it has dissolved. Pour it back into the pot.

Add the onion mixture to the soup pot. Be aware that beans get tough and take more time to cook if there is salt in the cooking liquid, so only add this when the chickpeas are mostly tender. Also stir in the kale at this time.

Let the whole thing cook for another 5-10 minutes. It is done when the chickpeas, potatoes and kale are all tender to the bite. Serve topped with the toasted pine nuts.

serves 4.

Purslane Soup with Herbed Potatoes

I have some super duper exciting news. After lots of soul-searching, life-assessing, hard-working events, it’s finally official. I will be starting Acupuncture school this Fall. It’s a huge life change for me, but it’s just what I needed.

For the past, well, as long as I can remember, I’ve been a music teacher. I’ve been through the first day at a new school jitters, the mid-Febrary slump, Spring Concert excitement and Summer break relief. I’ve dealt with driving to 4 schools every day, a crazy nun for a principal, an inner-city start-up with no instruments, textbooks or copy paper, unsupportive Kindergarten teachers wearing $400 dresses, and snotty, entitled rich kids. I’ve taught in three states, in urban, rural and suburban environments, from Pre-K to high school. I taught orchestra, chorus, general music, group piano, drama and rock band classes. I kept thinking it’s gonna get better, if only I found the right school.

Well, I never did, and now I’ve given up trying. Goodbye teacher’s life, hello being a student all over again. I know going back after all this time will be a challenge, but I’m thrilled to learn everything this path has to offer. You can expect a few changes around here, too, with my new-found life. One, on a student’s budget (and time frame) you’ll probably see more quick, frugal recipes. And two, I’ll be able to share some of my new, Chinese medicine tidbits with you. After all, the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else, right?

And now, on to the soup. I kept seeing purslane at the Farmer’s Market every week, and wanting to try it, but always spying too many other good things I had to pass it up. This week, there was a sign that said “Purslane, High in Omega-3′s $2.00″ And it was a huge bunch, so I got it (cheap, remember). Turns out, purslane is the highest in Omega-3 fatty acids of all plants, which is pretty funny, considering that most people consider it a weed. In fact, if you can’t find it at the market (and 99% chance it’s not at the grocery store) you may just find it in your back yard. But please, only eat it if you are absolutely certain that it’s purslane, and not some poisonous plant.

Purslane’s leaves are succulent, like a cactus, or aloe plant, and it’s got a tart, lemony flavor, so I paired it with potatoes for a little creamy richness (don’t worry, it’s still a light, summer soup). My plan was for the potatoes to act as “croutons” to sit on top of the soup, but alas, they sunk! So, let me know if you figure out how to make them float.

Purslane Soup with Herbed Potatoes

2-3 T. olive oil, divided
1 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium yukon gold potatoes, about a 1/2 in. dice, divided
2 T. chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
4 c. vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. herbs de provence, or another blend of dried herbs
1 bunch purslane, leaves and small stems only, about 2 packed cups

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large soup pot over medium low. Add the onions and cook for about 10 minutes, until onions are soft and translucent. Tip in the garlic, half the potatoes and the fresh thyme, and stir to combine. Let cook for a minute or two, until fragrant, then pour in the vegetable broth. Cover, bring to a boil, then turn down to low. Simmer for 30 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.

Meanwhile, heat the rest of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add a few pinches of salt and the herbs de provence and stir to coat in the oil. Stir in the rest of the potatoes, again coating them in the oil. If you are tempted to stir and flip and play with them, leave the room. Let them sit for 7-8 minutes, until they get a good crust on one side. Flip them using a thin spatula, then continue to cook and flip until they’re brown on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. It will take a good 30 minutes or more, so be patient and make sure the heat isn’t too high so they don’t get burnt.

When the soup potatoes are soft, add the purslane to the pot. Let it wilt for a few minutes then remove from the heat. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. You can also use a regular blender, just transfer in batches and don’t forget to vent for steam. Or, if you’re feeling lazy, go rustic and keep it chunky. Taste the soup, and add salt and pepper a little bit at a time until the flavors pop.

To serve, ladle into soup bowls and top with the potatoes. Do a little dance to make them float – but they’ll probably sink anyways. Finish with a little fresh thyme on top.

serves 4

Red Lentil Soup

The man I live with has been in crazy complaining mode for the past few days (sorry D!) “Oh, I can’t stop coughing”, “My throat is sore”, “My body’s all achy”, “Why am I SOOO tired”, and my personal favorite, “Why do I feel so bad, it’s not like I’m sick”. So I ask you this, Why do we all ignore, or refuse to believe, that when we don’t feel good, that means we’re sick? Even if we are still able to do all the things we usually do (feeling miserable the whole way) that doesn’t mean that we should. Let’s all promise to be kind to ourselves the next time we’re feeling under the weather and get some extra rest, cut out the sugar, and just eat some soup. Ok?

It took me a while to convince Darren that he needed to take it easy, and after some pleading, he finally let me take care of him. I made him this soup. Super simple ingredients, most of which you can keep on hand, minimal prep work, and deeply nourishing, this is a good soup for the sick. Cook some onions and oil, then add red lentils and brown rice, and cook til done. This is one recipe where you have to use red lentils, and not another type, because they break down and create bulk in the soup. Also, feel free to garnish with whatever you have. I used toasted almonds and some fresh herbs. To up the nourishing factor, I used miso to flavor the broth. I have a few types in the fridge for different things. A light miso (sweet brown rice or chickpea) is good for cooking. I like to use it for complex creaminess when I don’t want to use cheese. A hearty dark miso (3 year barley’s the best, or hearty brown rice) are more medicinal, so I use them when I’m sick. I combined them both in this recipe, but if you just have one kind, that’s fine, too. If you’re in the market for miso, South River Miso is my favorite.

Red Lentil Soup

1 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 c. red lentils, rinsed
1/2 c. brown rice, I used short grain, but basmati would be nice
5 c. water
1/4 c. miso, I used 2 T. light and 2 T. dark

for garnish: toasted almonds, chopped herbs, etc.

Heat oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, 7-8 minutes. Add lentils, rice and water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes, until the rice is tender (make sure to check the rice, it could need up to 15 minutes more, depending on the rice).

Scoop out about a cup of soup. I used my 1 c. pyrex liquid measuring cup. Add the miso to the cup and dissolve. Add the cup back into the soup pot and stir. Keep cooking over medium low for a few more minutes, making sure not to let it boil (it kills the medicinal properties of the miso).

Serve, garnished with some toasted nuts, herbs, or what have you.

serves 4

*Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Red Lentil Soup.


Mulligatawny Soup with Mustard Seed Croutons

Here in Brooklyn we are in the middle of Summer. Most people are gobbling up salads and fruit like it’s their job. But what am I craving right now? Indian food! I know, I know, kinda crazy, right? My acupuncturist says I’m craving the spices in Indian food, and that it’s a good thing to want to self-medicate with food, so just go for it. So here I am. I dug out an old cookbook, Indian Vegetarian Cooking from an American Kitchen, and found a recipe for Mulligatawny Soup. I had everything I needed already in the kitchen, so that was a plus. I tweaked it a bit (of course, though now I can’t vouch for it’s authenticity) and added some ghee and mustard seed toasted croutons.

The croutons really take the soup to another realm of goodness, but if for some reason you aren’t eating bread, I found that toasted slivered almonds are ok too. However, if you just don’t have any stale bread laying around and still want the crouton experience, just slide some bread slices on a baking sheet and into the oven for a few minutes to dry out. Also, for vegans, I suggest using coconut oil for the ghee in this recipe.

Speaking of ghee, it was not in the original recipe, but I love cooking with it so much that I added it. Ghee, or browned, clarified butter, is used in Indian food quite a bit. I love the subtle yet complex toasty flavor it imparts to everything you add it to. You can find it on the shelf (probably not refrigerated) at the health food store, or you can make your own. There is a great step by step tutorial, with pictures, here.

I’m sure you know that what makes Indian food sing is it’s use of spices. Indian cuisine is based on Ayurveda, an ancient medical system that’s been used in India for thousands of years. According to Ayurveda, each herb, spice and food you eat has a specific effect on your body. Some produce heat and some are cooling. Some are drying and some are moisture-giving. I’m no expert, all’s I know is that this combo of spices tastes darn good.

Mulligatawny Soup with Mustard Seed Croutons

2 T. ghee
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. tumeric
1 T. curry powder (if yours is extra hot, you may want to add a little at a time until it’s hot enough to your liking)
1 onion, diced
1 in knob of ginger, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, chopped
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped, or 1 c. crushed tomates from the can
1 c. yellow split peas
6 c water
Salt to taste (I used about a teaspoon)
1 c. coconut milk

For the croutons:
4-6 slices of stale whole grain bread, cut or torn into cubes
2 T. ghee
1 tsp. mustard seeds
pinch of salt

Melt the ghee over medium heat in a large Dutch oven. Add the spices and toast for a minute, then add the onion and ginger. Cook for a few minutes, until the onion starts to get translucent, then add garlic and carrot and cook a few minutes more.

Stir in the tomatoes, split peas and water, cover, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 35 minutes, until the carrots and split peas are tender.

While the soup is cooking, make the croutons. Melt the ghee in a skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and a pinch of salt. Stir in the bread cubes, coating with the ghee. Let them sit, flipping a few times, until brown on a few sides, 7-9 minutes. Set aside.

When the soup is done, turn off the heat and let cool a bit. If you have an immersion blender, stick it in the pot and puree until smooth. If not, transfer to a blender or food processor in batches (remembering to vent and let the steam out) and puree. Return to the pot.

Turn the heat to low and stir in the coconut milk. Add at least a 1/2 tsp. salt, and probably more, and keep tasting and adding salt until the flavors pop.

Serve soup with croutons on top.

serves 4-6

Spring Lentil Soup

Happy May Day! It finally seems like Spring has sprung. We spent the weekend in the Catskills, with sunshine, green grass and trees, in a house built into a waterfall (no joke!). It wasn’t quite warm enough to sit on the deck overlooking the old trout pond and drink a beer while the sun set (sigh…) but we did manage a hike in the surrounding forest.  And to warm up our faces after the brisk walk; a bowl of lentil and bulgur soup, loaded with spring carrots, chard and garlic, and brightened up with a punch of lemon. Topped with some pine nuts and a dusting of cheese, this is a dish that sings out springtime. Not that bitter radish in a salad to lighten up after a cold winter kind of spring, but the warm up after a rainy afternoon (or hike through the woods).

The deck we walked out onto from the door in the kitchen. Not warm enough to dine outside on the water, but good enough to sit and sing a few tunes.

Darren loved the soup. He said it tastes like a garden. My favorite part is the garlic. You leave a bunch of cloves whole and let them cook with the lentils and bulgur. After about 20 minutes the garlic is so soft that you can smoosh it against the side of the pot, and it just melts into the soup. And one more note: try to find skinny, small carrots to ensure they will be tender in the 20 minutes it takes for the lentils to cook. And it won’t hurt to slice them very thin.

We enjoyed cooking in this homey, but still waaaay bigger than ours, kitchen.

Spring Lentil Soup

1 T. butter or olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced
4-6 thin, spring carrots, bias cut (diagonal)
1 T. herbs de provence
8 cloves of garlic
1/2 green lentils
1/2 medium bulgur
2 c. vegetable stock
1/4 c. pine nuts
1 small bunch of swiss chard, de-stemmed and chopped
the zest and juice of 1 lemon
handful of basil, torn into pieces
some freshly grated parmesan (preferably parmigiano reggiano)

Melt butter in a large pot over medium low heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, 7-8 minutes. Stir in the carrots and herbs de provence and cook for another few minutes. While it’s cooking, crush the garlic cloves with the side of your knife and peel, but leave them whole. Throw the garlic into the pot, along with the lentils and bulgur, and stir until all is coated with the butter and herbs. Pour in the stock and 3 cups of water, bring to a boil. Turn to low, cover and simmer until lentils are about tender, 20 minutes.

While the soup cooks, toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until brown and fragrant. Keep a close eye on them, they go from raw to burned in no time.

After 20 minutes, add the chard to the soup and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the zest and juice.

Serve topped with the pine nuts, basil and cheese.

serves 4

FDN with Indian Spiced Tomato Soup

When I first moved to New York City 5 years ago, I was amazed to see that no one had kitchen tables. People here eat at their computer desks, on the couch in front of the TV, or in restaurants, but never around the dining room table. Roommates and even couples and families eat different things at different times, scattered all over the apartment.

When I was growing up, things were much different. I enjoyed (usually) dinner at the dining room table, with family almost every night. It was the one time everyone living under the same roof could come together and connect with each other. When I got to the Big Apple, I was determined not to lose this, so I created what is now lovingly known as “Family Dinner Night” – or FDN. It started out as my sister and me inviting our friends over for a home cooked meal every Tuesday night. We had a rotating cast of old friends, new acquaintances and family members around the table, enjoying simple food, wine and good conversation. 

Unfortunately, we all got busy and FDN now happens much less frequently. Last Saturday night was the first Family Dinner of the year 2012. My sister, boyfriend and a few good friends (toting along some new friends) were in attendance. They hauled in the wine and bread, and I provided the soup. I love that this soup is so simple to prepare, but the spice mix really brings it to the next level. When I’m hosting a party, the last thing I want is to be stuck in the kitchen all night while all my friends are giggling in the next room. Also, this recipe makes a huge pot of soup for a party, so feel free to halve it to feed a smaller family.

How often do all of you eat dinner at the dining room table?

Indian Spiced Tomato Soup

1 c. short grain brown rice
2 T. butter or olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 tsp. sea salt
3 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 28 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes 
1 14 oz. can of coconut milk 
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1/2 c. tightly packed cilantro leaves, chopped

Place the rice in a medium sized heavy bottomed pot (set aside your biggest pot for the soup). Pour in 2 cups of water, cover and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat as low as it will go and simmer, covered for 45 minutes, or until all the liquid has evaporated. 

Meanwhile, melt the butter in the big pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cool until translucent, 8-10 minutes. Add the spices, stir to coat the onions, and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and 6 cups of water, cover, and bring to a boil. Turn to medium low and simmer, covered, until everything is cooked down. I just cooked it until the rice was almost done. Puree with a hand blender, then stir in the coconut milk.

While the rice is cooking, place the almonds in a dry skillet and heat on medium until browned and fragrant, stirring occasionally.

Serve soup with a scoop of rice, some toasted almonds and a sprinkling of cilantro.

serves 8 

Inspired by Heidi Swanson’s adaptation of Melissa Clark’s Curried Tomato Soup from Cook This Now