Heirloom Tomato Soup
90 Min

Heirloom Tomato Soup

An edible berry of a plant native to South and Central America, the Aztec word tomatl is the original derivative for the word tomato that once started out as a tiny wild fruit. An immensely popular vegetable across cultures and a rich source of umami flavor, the tomato has however, also been the victim of rampant genetic modifications to make it bigger, more abundant on the vine, give it color variations and resistant to bugs.  At the time, I paid little attention to the richly red tomatoes my mother would use in cooking but on trips in recent years, I notice how deeply flavorful tomatoes are in India. While in New York, I also grew to appreciate the famous New Jersey tomato that appears in farmer’s markets across state lines late July and August, which many swear is the best tomato in America.

In Houston however, the local fresh tomato season is no more than 2 to 3 months and heralds the end of spring and the beginning of summer. For the past few weeks, I’ve been gleefully picking out giant yellow, orange, and red heirloom tomatoes from Good Thyme Farms and dropping them in dals and curries or in salads and sandwiches. Most of them have ripened on the vine and are packed with flavor. Trying to mimic a tomato soup we enjoyed at a cardamom farm while in India earlier this year, I made a new version every few days until I arrived at one that gave me the satisfaction the one in India did. A few small spoons of aromatic spices elevate the soup; the cardamom adds a sweet aroma and the coriander a lemony flavor to accentuate the tomato. Enjoy it warm or chilled.

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Cook Time

90 Minutes



Step 1
In a large non-reactive Dutch oven or stockpot over high heat, warm the olive oil and fry the cloves of garlic for a few seconds. It will turn light brown on most sides. Next, add the whole cardamom pods and coriander seeds and let them sizzle for another 2 to 3 seconds.
Step 2
Almost immediately add the rest of the ingredients – chile powder, tomatoes, salt, potato, lemon grass, ginger and 6 cups of water. Bring the whole mixture to a boil, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Turn the heat off and let the soup rest for another 30 minutes.
Step 3
In a powerful blender, working in 2 or 3 batches, puree the soup until smooth. Using a large strainer, strain the soup back into the Dutch oven. Serve warm topped off with a drizzle of good olive oil, your choice of chevre, feta or other melting cheese. Garnish with herbs.
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 large cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon green cardamom pods
1 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon red chile powder (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium raw potato, cut into small pieces
1 stalks lemon grass and/or 2-inch piece of ginger, rough chopped

Notes & Variations

  • The potato in the soup is simply there to add viscosity to the finished soup. Any potato, white, red, or golden will work. If using russet, use half the potato.
  • Try to not use a steel stock pot to make the soup as it will react with the acid in the tomatoes and turn the soup bitter – a non-stick, cast iron or any Dutch oven would work best.
  • Tomatoes are best left out at room temperature; refrigeration compromises their flavor. Make sure the tomatoes are ripe before using them in soup.
90 Min

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Tomato Season

Two to three months of glorious tomatoes!