Spicy Indian Tomato Soup (Shorba)

Spicy Indian Tomato Soup (Shorba)
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Looking for a quick-low calorie spicy tomato soup? Then you NEED to try tamatar shorba. A tasty spiced vegan tomato broth that comes together in just fifteen minutes! It’s also vegan and vegetarian whole 30 compliant if you skip the small amount of sugar added.

When I arrived in India, I was eight months pregnant and suffering badly from a pregnancy-related aversion to garlic and onions. This soup was an absolute life-saver, although now that my oven is bun-free, I add onion for an extra flavour boost.

Back living in Spain, this is by far our cheapest and quickest dinner of the week and a firm family favourite suitable for winter or summer. It’s a heavily spice-dependent recipe that you don’t need expensive high-quality tomatoes for, although I do recommend making sure that the tomatoes you use are as ripe as possible.

What should you serve with this soup?

Tomato shorba is usually served with biryani or pulao (if you go this route I highly recommend pairing it with my one-pot vegan vegetable biryani and some smoky kefir raita).

This tasty spicy tomato soup is also enjoyed as a starter, but I enjoy it as the main course with some fresh garlic naan bread to dip in it, or some warm soda bread slathered with a buttery spread (completely non-traditional, I know)!

How spicy is this Indian tomato soup?

I have acquired quite a high spice tolerance and this soup is mildly spicy for me. If kids will be eating it, it might be a good idea to leave out the ground cayenne pepper, as the black pepper will still add a kick without sending them diving for a glass of water.

Spicy Indian tomato soup tips

  • Fresh cilantro leaves and cumin are INDISPENSABLE for this soup, so don’t be mean with them. If you’re one of the unfortunate few who hates cilantro, you can make it without but should try and add some fresh herbs such as chives and basil, even though it won’t taste as it should.
  • If you can get them, use a full Maggi vegetarian masala cube instead of half a vegetable stock cube.
  • You can substitute the canned pureed tomatoes with chopped ripe tomatoes that are in season. If you can’t get good quality in-season tomatoes, stick with the recipe as is or your shorba will be a bit lacking in flavour.
  • This recipe makes about four bowlfuls of soup and doubles up very easily and will last about five days in the fridge, although the flavours will become stronger and slightly spicier.
  • This spicy tomato soup freezes perfectly with no change in texture after defrosting and will keep for several months in the freezer.

How to make spicy Indian tomato soup

First things first, roughly chop the onions and tomato and add them to your blender. I mean really roughly, walnut-size chunks are fine here, just need them broken up enough that they don’t give your blender any trouble. Add in the canned pureed tomatoes and blend until smooth.

Remember you can substitute the canned tomatoes with more chopped tomatoes, but I only recommend doing this when they are season and super-ripe, as otherwise, it will be difficult to get any depth of flavour in this soup.

Heat the oil over a medium-high heat and add the cumin seeds and cardamom pods when the oil is hot. I use sunflower oil but you can substitute it for the same quantity of any flavorless oil.

If you don’t have any cumin seeds you can add the same amount of ground cumin later with the other ground spices, but cumin seeds are best.

When the seeds start to sizzle and pop and turn a medium-brown color, add in the grated ginger and crushed garlic and fry for 1-2 minutes until the raw smell of the garlic has gone. Then add in the blended tomato and onion.

It may bubble up a lot, but just turn down the heat to medium and stir continuously until it stops sputtering, and cook two minutes.

Add the dry ground spices (turmeric, cayenne, coriander powder, garam masala, black pepper) and ground cumin if you didn’t add in the cumin seeds earlier. Note that the ground black pepper in this recipe should NOT be freshly ground, just the regular preground fine powder from a jar.

Mix until all the spices have been well distributed, and add in the water and crumble the half-stock cube.

Turn the heat down to a low-medium heat and let bubble away for five minutes before adding the salt. I only add half a teaspoon but you can add up to one teaspoon depending on personal preference and how salty your stock cube was.

After adding the salt, simmer five minutes more and then taste for sweetness. As I never remember to make this when tomatoes are in season, I usually add half a teaspoon, but you may need to add up to one teaspoon if your tomatoes are sour or you replace the fresh tomatoes with canned ones.

Take off the heat and stir in the chopped cilantro leaves If you’d like to reserve a little to sprinkle on top, feel free, but make sure to finely chop the leaves and stir most of it through the soup for a light fresh spiced broth.

Yield: 3 people

Spicy Indian Tomato Shorba

Spicy Indian Tomato Shorba

A warm comforting quick low-calorie soup that's high on taste, perfect for a light late dinner

Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 13 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups roughly chopped fresh tomatoes (450g, about 8 tomatoes)
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped (about 100g)
  • 1 cup canned tinned pureed tomatoes (300g)
  • 1.5 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 cardamom
  • 4 large cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 inch finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/8 - 1/4 tsp ground cayenne
  • 1.5 tsp ground cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp ground garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4.25 cups water (1 litre)
  • 1/2 Veg stock cube
  • ½ tsp Sugar, optional
  • 2 tbs chopped coriander

Instructions

  1. Add the chopped tomatoes and onion to your blender with the canned tomatoes if using, and blend everything well. If tomatoes are out of season or you don't have any, substitute and use all tinned tomatoes and blend with the onion.
  2. Get out your frying pan and heat the oil at a medium-high temperature. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and cardamom. When the cumin start to sizzle and darken (but don’t let them darken too much - black burnt cumin seeds are very bitter), add the crushed garlic and grated ginger.
  3. It’s super unscientific but sniff the cooking aroma and when the raw or uncooked smell of the garlic goes away, add the pureed tomatoes and onion. Stir quickly to avoid spattering unless you love scrubbing the back-splash after every meal.
  4. Turn down the heat to medium and simmer for two minutes, stirring just enough to avoid those apocalyptic bursts of backsplash and clothes staining tomato bombs.
  5. Add all the remaining spices (turmeric, cayenne, ground cilantro, garam masala, black pepper powder) and mix very well.
  6. Add the water, crumble the stock cube in and mix mix mix!
  7. Turn the heat down to low-medium and simmer for five minutes and then add salt. I usually add half a teaspoon but I have a low salt tolerance so check after adding and see if you need to add more. It also depends on how salty your stock cube is.
  8. Turn off the hob/induction/vitroceramic/flames of hell, and let it coast along simmering for a further five minutes. Now is the time to add the sugar. If you used all ripe-tomatoes, you won't need any. If you used any tinned tomatoes, add at least half a teaspoon. If you used all canned tomatoes you may need up to a teaspoon. Test and taste to see.
  9. Take off the heat and chuck in the chopped cilantro. Let cook a little (but serve piping hot). Done!

 



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