Spicy Tomato Soup

A thick and unctuous tomato soup, fragrant with Indian spices and naturally sweetened with lots of squash and a wee bit of beets.  Colorful, healthful, tasty – what more could you ask for?  Perhaps a bit of home-baked pita to serve beside it.  But it’s optional.

Yield: 12 cups

What you need:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon hing (asafoetida, optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black or white mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon nigella (also called kalonji or onion seed, optional)
  • 3/4 teaspoon urud dal (optional)
  • 10 fresh curry leaves (optional but recommended)
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • a 2-3” piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 4 cups unsalted vegetable broth
  • 4 cups unsalted crushed tomatoes (home-canned preferred)
  • 6 cups chopped butternut squash (uncooked)
  • 1 medium-sized red or yellow beet, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt

What you do:

  1. In a 5 quart soup pot or the work-bowl of an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, heat the coconut oil over medium heat.  When hot, add the onions, mustard seeds, cumin seed and the hing, nigella, urud dal and curry leaves if using.
  2. Sauté, stirring often, until the onions are soft and translucent.  Add the curry powder, garlic and ginger and stir, cooking, until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped squash and beet and stir, coating in the spices.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes and vegetable broth.  If working on stovetop, bring to a boil, cover, lower the heat and simmer until the vegetables are very soft – 30-40 minutes.  If using a pressure cooker, fit the lid, bring to pressure and cook 11 minutes (soup cycle on the Instant pot) either releasing the pressure quickly or allowing a natural release if you’ll be eating later.
  5. Uncover, remove the curry leaves if using, add the salt, and use an immersion blender to render the soup thick and creamy.  You can also process it in batches using a blender or food processor, but be careful as the liquid is hot and will require an opening for steam to escape.
  6. Serve.

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