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tomato shorba soup

When I was on the cusp of teenage-dom, my father lived in Singapore and I used to go and visit him during the school holidays. Food-wise, I was not very adventurous at the time and loathed anything too hot (chilli, not temperature).

Despite this, we frequently ate devilishly hot, chilli-laced grub. One of my dad’s favourites was (and still is, he visits every year) a delightful Indian restaurant called Hasara. I would love to visit now, with my fully developed palate. At the time, I stuck to the tried and tested, and reliably mild. One such dish was the kick-free, but flavoursome, tomato shorba. It rapidly became a firm favourite.

With my freshly-made chicken stock burning a hole in my freezer, I decided it had to be soup for lunch all this week, and tomatoes are cheap as chips right now. Here is my attempt to recreate that delightful dish – I can tell you it has definitely worked: this is exactly how I remember it.

Serves: 6-8

8-10 vine tomatoes, peeled and chopped into quarters

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 onion, cut into quarters

3 cloves garlic

Half a red chilli, halved and seeds removed

1 inch ginger peeled and grated

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp mustard seeds

2 tsp garam masala

2 curry leaves

1 small bunch coriander, chopped

olive oil

chicken stock (approx 1 litre)

1 tbsp tomato purée

2 tbsp natural yoghurt

Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 190C. Drizzle oil on a baking tray and throw on the seeds, onion, chilli, garlic and ginger, then pop in the oven to roast for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the chicken stock into a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the tomatoes, garam masala, tomato purée, carrot and curry leaves and simmer gently for 15 minutes. When the onions etc are nicely caramelised, and the spices toasted, add them to the soup base and simmer for a further 5-10 minutes.

When the tomatoes and carrots have softened, season the soup to taste and whizz with a hand-held blender until smooth. Throw in the coriander and yoghurt and stir well – give another little whizz with the blender if necessary.

Recipe for Mexican black bean soup The frugal kitchen

Mexican black bean soup

Serves: 4 generously

2 x 400g tins of black beans in spring water

1 small tin (200g) refried beans

Oil for frying (I used a drizzle of chilli oil in a non-stick pan)

I red onion finely chopped

3 sticks of celery finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

A quarter of a red pepper finely chopped

A quarter of a green pepper finely chopped

2 tbsp tomato purée

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp chilli powder

Salt and pepper

Up to 500ml of chicken or vegetable stock

Stalks from a bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

A handful of coriander leaves, chopped spring onions and sour cream to garnish (just leave these out if you don’t have them)

Fry the onion, garlic, carrot, celery and pepper on a medium heat until soft. Add one entire tin of black beans, water and all. Slowly add the stock, but be careful not to leave the mixture too runny, if in doubt, reserve some for later.

Bring to the boil, add the spices, tomato purée and coriander stalks and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Add the refried beans then, using a hand-held blender, blend the broth until smooth. Add the remaining stock if it becomes too thick. Drain the remaining tin of black beans and add to the broth and simmer for a further five minutes.

Garnish with coriander, spring onions and sour cream and serve with tortilla chips.

Serves: 5

Cooking time: 20-30 minutes

Ingredients:

Four spring onions finely chopped

Half a shallot finely chopped

One green pepper finely chopped

Half an inch of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

Three cloves of garlic finely chopped

350g red lentils

100g frozen spinach

Sunflower oil

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp garam masala

Quarter of a bunch of coriander (stalks and all), chopped

1 vegetable stock cube

Defrost the spinach (microwave on defrost setting for 10 minutes should do the trick).

In a large saucepan, fry the ginger, garlic, pepper, shallot and onions in a little oil on a medium heat until soft and golden.

Stir in the lentils and cover with boiling water – top up until about an inch above the lentils. Crumble in the stock cube and simmer gently for about 15 minutes until the lentils are soft. Add more boiling water if necessary.

Stir in the spinach, coriander and spices and simmer for a further five minutes. Season to taste.

To store: allow to cool, divide into individual portions and keep in the fridge or freezer – I usually use a jam jar or takeaway tub.

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