I’ve been meaning to make a Soup for a while now and because I love Italian flavours so much, I thought I’d do a Soup which uses two of my favourite ingredients – Tomatoes and Basil! Nothing is better than a good, luscious Soup when you’re sick (like I am right now). Keeping in mind that it is Summer, I’ve kept this a light and flavourful dish, minus any heavy ingredients like cream or cheese. Plus, you can serve this either hot, cold, or lukewarm – it’s delicious any way you like it!
This was my first time making a Soup, so I did some research, but could not find a single recipe which I liked. What follows is my experiment – cooking on instinct, so to speak – having only a very basic understanding of how Soups are made. Here’s what went down:
4 Cherry Tomatoes (optional)
2 Carrots (the sweet kind)
1 large Onion, diced finely (or 2 small ones)
4-5 Garlic cloves, peeled (add more or less, depending on the size/pungency)*
1 handful of fresh Basil leaves, chopped finely (or 2 tbsp of dried Basil)
1 tsp Chili Flakes
1 tsp Sugar (ONLY if the carrots are not sweet)
1 ½ cups Chicken Stock
Salt & Black Pepper (to taste)
(*In India, Garlic cloves are relatively smaller than those abroad, so use your discretion when adding the Garlic – add as much as you want depending on your personal taste and/or pungency of the Garlic, as it should not overpower the other Ingredients.)
Chop the Tomatoes into halves and gently cut out the center (the white stem bit) but leave the seeds and pulp. Dice the Carrots into small round discs. Drizzle the Tomatoes, Carrots and Garlic with Olive Oil (just enough to coat) and add to an warm pan. Slow-cook them on a low flame until softened and tender (covering with a lid helps lock in the flavour and achieves a lovely soft consistency).
Little by little, add to a blender (if it is steaming hot, add very little at a time to avoid build-up of pressure), pulse and then blend to a purée. If you prefer an even consistency, keep blending until the desired texture is achieved.
By the way, the aroma of Tomato and Carrot purée is heavenly! Even without the addition of the Basil, this would be a great Soup by itself!
Sauté the diced Onion and the Chili Flakes in a tiny bit of Olive Oil until a golden hue is attained. Then, add it to the Tomato & Carrot purée, along with the chopped Cherry Tomatoes (optional, for added texture) and the Chicken Stock.
Stir together on a low medium flame. Add the Salt & Pepper to taste. In case the Carrots are not sweet enough, add the Sugar to taste as well.
Bring the Soup to a boil, then add the chopped fresh Basil leaves. Cover and leave to simmer for another 10-15 minutes or until the desired thickness is reached. The longer you leave it to simmer, the thicker the consistency. If you prefer a smoother texture, use a hand-held blender to process the Soup. Garnish with fresh Basil, garlicky breadcrumbs and a side of Croutons to serve.
4 Slices of Bread (I used Multi-Grain)**
3-4 Garlic cloves, minced (again, use as much Garlic as you want, depending on their size)
2 tbsp Parsley, dried
(** If you use stale bread, you’ll get a better, toastier result than if you use fresh bread.)
Toast the Bread in a toaster until golden brown and cut into squares. Melt some Butter – I haven’t given an exact quantity, because you have to be liberal with it – in a warm pan along with the minced Garlic.
Add the toasted squares immediately and stir so that each one is coated with the Garlic-Butter. Let the pan sit on a low flame for another 5-7 minutes but be careful not to let anything catch or burn. Toss in the Parsley, add a pinch of Salt to season and transfer to a paper towel-lined box or plate.
Nothing is better then a good ol’ bowl of comfort Soup with a side of buttery, garlicky Croutons!