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Spicy Indian Tomato Soup

Looking for a quick low-calorie spicy tomato soup? Then you need to try my take on tamatar ka shorba. A tasty spiced vegan tomato broth that comes together in just fifteen minutes!

An overhead view of a bowl of red soup with two pieces of naan, on a grey background

This Indian tomato soup is 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. I basically survived on bowls of tamatar ka shorba from a local Jain restaurant.

This soup was an absolute life-saver, although now that my oven is bun-free, I add onion for an extra flavour boost. Feel free to leave the onion out or add some garlic if you want.

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.

This tomato soup is a 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.

If tasty Indian food is your bag you may also be interested in trying out some of my other recipes:

If it’s spicy yet healthy goodness you’re after, look no further than my easy peri peri sauce recipe.

What should you serve with spicy Indian tomato soup?

Tomato shorba is usually served ladled over biryani or pulao. I like to pair it with my easy one-pot vegan vegetable biryani and some onion raita. It’s also gorgeous with:

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 vegan soda bread slathered with a buttery spread (completely non-traditional, I know)!

How spicy is this soup?

Overhead view of two bowls of tomato soup with spices on top and sliced naan bread dipped in

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.

1/8 teaspoon of cayenne is fine for a mildly spiced soup, especially if you are preparing it ahead of time as it will get spicier the more it “ages”. 1/4 tsp is what I add for a medium spice level.

If you don’t like any spice at all then you might find my easy creamy vegan tomato soup a better fit.

Spicy Indian tomato soup tips

  • Cilantro 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 it, use a full Maggi vegetarian masala cube instead of half a vegetable stock cube.
  • 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 soup freezes perfectly with no change in texture after defrosting and will keep for several months in the freezer.

How to make it

tomatoes and onions in a blender

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, you just need them broken up enough that they don’t give your blender any trouble. Blend until smooth and mix in the canned crushed tomatoes.

Tomato puree in a blender

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.

Cumin seeds and cardamon in oil in a pan

If you don’t have any cumin seeds you can add the same amount of ground cumin later with the other ground spices, but using whole cumin seeds is best to get the right texture.

Crushed garlic and minced ginger on a purple plate over pan with spices in it

When the seeds start to sizzle and pop and turn a medium-brown color like the photo above (do not let them turn dark brown or blacken, they will be bitter), 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 tomatoes, canned tomatoes, and onion.

Tomato puree in a pan

It will start to bubble up and spatter immediately so be ready to quickly stir it, turn down the heat to medium and continue to stir until it stops sputtering, cook for two minutes.

Add the dry ground spices (turmeric, cayenne, coriander, 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 powdered pepper.

5 different coloured ground spices on a purple plate over a pan of tomato puree

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 the soup 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 sugar. 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.

Take off the heat and stir the chopped cilantro leaves into your delicious Indian tomato soup. If you’d like to reserve a little cilantro 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.

Two bowls of a red soup with spices and naan bread

Fish out and remove the cardamom pods. serve your spicy Indian tomato soup piping hot with your bread of choice as a light satisfying soup or as a side for biryani.

Will keep in the fridge for up to five days, reheat in the microwave until hot (not boiling), or freeze to enjoy later.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe, and if you made it please let me know how you got on in the comments below or leave a star rating and review by clicking on the stars in the recipe box. Ooh, or take a photo and tag me on Instagram (@the_fiery_vegetarian), I love seeing your creations!


Yield: 3 servings

Spicy Indian Tomato Soup

An overhead view of a bowl of red soup with two pieces of naan, on a grey background

A warm comforting quick low-calorie soup that's high on taste but low on calories, this spicy Indian tomato soup, my take on tamatar ka shorba, is perfect for a light late dinner

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


  • 3 cups roughly chopped fresh tomatoes (450g, about 8 tomatoes)
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped (about 100g)
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes (300g)
  • 1.5 tablespoons sunflower oil (or any plain flavourless oil)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 4 large cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 inch finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4.25 cups water (1 litre)
  • 1/2 vegetable stock cube
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon sugar, optional
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro


  1. Add the chopped tomatoes and onion to your blender with the canned tomatoes and blend everything well.
  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.
  5. Add all the remaining spices (turmeric, cayenne, ground coriander, garam masala, black pepper) and mix very well.
  6. Add the vegetable stock, crumble the stock cube in and mix well.
  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. Add the sugar if using, simmer an additional 5 minutes.
  9. Take off the heat and chuck in the chopped cilantro. Done!


I actually don't recommend substituting more fresh tomatoes for canned or vice versa in this recipe as you lose the ratio of depth of flavour to "freshness".

Canned chopped tomatoes can be substituted for crushed as long as you blend them.

This soup is easy to double up and freeze

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 109Total Fat 6gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 0mgSodium 105mgCarbohydrates 13gFiber 4gSugar 6gProtein 3g

Did you make this recipe?

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Thom Pantazi

Friday 18th of November 2022

This is excellent tomato soup! I make Italian style tomato soup and was looking for an Indian version. I no longer have to buy takeout!

I used more garlic and ginger but I like my soup with lots of both! Your explanation of garam marsala convinced me to try grinding my own. I am so glad you actually initiated me in Indian cuisine I love Indian food but have relied on take out or frozen until now!

Thank you thank you!

Deirdre Gilna

Thursday 24th of November 2022

I'm so glad you enjoyed it Thom, shorba is definitely one of my favorites!


Sunday 11th of September 2022

Great recipe. Just made it. I added at the end a little bit of lemon juice since I like it a bit sour. Will definitely make it again.


Friday 3rd of June 2022

Would love these 2 authentic recipes from someone who keeps it simple and vegetarian 1. Tarka Dhal 2. Madras curry sauce Thanks

Deirdre Gilna

Friday 3rd of June 2022

Hi Dianne, there is a dal tadka recipe on this site, but for Madras curry sauce I'm afraid you'll have to ask Google.


Saturday 21st of May 2022



Friday 22nd of April 2022

Shouldnt you empty the Cardamom seeds first...The dried ones stay hard in soup!?? I added Methi instead of cilantro. And a teaspoon of curry powder. Its much better !

Deirdre Gilna

Saturday 23rd of April 2022

Hi Tom. Whole cardamom pods are always removed at the end of cooking, like bay leaves. This is a shorba, and while I encourage people to make recipes their own....methi (while I love) is frankly not something I'd recommend in this recipe, and using curry powder in Indian recipes, apart from being absolute heresy and a Western thing, is something that I never recommend - It's not Indian, and it's not suitable for dishes with a good amount of other spices as each brand is a random mix of different amounts of common spices.

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