There is a thing about some of the soups of South India – they can be like hot drinks rather than the way we might think of soups. We treat them as hearty, warming dishes to be eaten by the bowlful. Contrast this with flavoursome but not highly spiced hot beverages. There is nothing like them anywhere else – they are neither like the tangy and highly spiced rasam, nor like the North Indian shorba. Some of the soups take influence from other parts of Asia, some from the English and French lighter soups and some from the soups of Portugal. These type of Indian soups are not common, but are also not rare.
I like to call it a “shot” of soup, often no more than a quarter of a cup. And it is often served after the meal, in a way that we might serve coffee. Relaxing over a shot of soup. What a delightful way to include more vegetables in our lives!
This recipe is a quick and easy tomato soup, in the Indian style. A hot beverage if you like. And totally delicious. While sugar is added to give the sweet-sour taste, it can be omitted and we often leave it out.
Also note that more Western style soups are becoming more and more popular across India as people turn their hand to cooking other cuisines.
This is such a delightful accompaniment to Fried Upma.
Sweet and Sour Tomato Soup
5oo g juicy tomatoes
1 Tblspn sugar (can be omitted or reduced for an equally delightful soup)
sea salt to taste
1 black cardamom, cracked but leave whole
5 – 6 peppercorns
3 – 4 cm stick cinnamon
Peel and chop the tomatoes and blend in a blender. Strain the juice.
Crush all of the spices and add to the tomato juice with the sugar and salt. Simmer over a low heat for 10 mins then strain again.
Serve hot with a swirl of cream.
Makes about 1.25 – 1.5 cups, serves 3 – 4.
recipe notes and alternatives
If you use a high speed blender like Vitamix, there is no need to peel the tomatoes, and the first strain can be omitted.
Another way is to juice the tomatoes in a fruit juicer rather than blend them – if you are doing this, there is no need to peel the tomatoes and the first strain can be omitted if the juice is not too pulpy.
More sugar can be added if that is your taste. Here we are not sweet tooths so more often than not we omit the sugar altogether. If using, add enough to give a sweet-sour taste without overwhelming the sourness of the tomatoes. The amount of sugar will vary according to where you live, and also it will fluctuate during the year, depending on the season and the sweetness of the tomatoes.