Tomato Masala Soup

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A simple, deeply-satisfying soup for the end of winter, spiced with a freshly made masala mix. You can use this same basic mix in other masala recipes, but this one is designed specifically for this soup. First, make the spice mix. Then grind the mix. Then begin the soup.

Masala Mix :

Heat a dry skillet over medium to medium-low heat.

Add :

1 tbs cumin seed

1 tbs coriander seed

1 cinnamon stick or few pieces of cassia

seeds from 6 pods of green cardamom

1 tsp black peppercorns

4 cloves

Toast the dry spices together for a few minutes, until strong and aromatic but not browned.

Grind spices together in mortar and pestle or spice grinder until no longer coarse.

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Heat a large saucepan or sauteuse over medium heat and add :

6 tbs butter or 4 tbs ghee or oil (you may substitute oil to make this dish vegan, otherwise butter is recommended)

Cook butter for one or two minutes and add :

Ground masala mix

Cook for one minute, then add :

9 oz onion, sliced thin

Cook for three minutes or until softened, then add :

4 oz shallots, sliced thin

Cook for three minutes or until softened, then add :

1/2 oz garlic, crushed and chopped fine

Cook for one minute then add :

3-4 oz carrot (about one medium carrot), grated

Cook for three minutes then reduce the heat to low.

Cook the vegetables for as long as possible over a low heat, uncovered, until they are mostly softened and succulent.

Add :

Tomatoes from one 28 oz. can of tomatoes

Break the tomatoes into the rest of the vegetables with a flat spatula or wooden spoon.

Bring the heat to medium.

Cook for a few minutes, breaking the tomatoes up as much as possible.

Bring the heat to medium-high and add :

Juice from one 28 oz. can of tomatoes

1 quart rich stock of any kind or water

Simmer slowly for at least 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

This should cook down to make a little over a quart of really rich soup. You may also wish to add less liquid to save on cooking time, although some at least should be retained or what we have is a sauce, not a soup. As it stands, this is a nicely rich soup for winter or early spring, and can be mellowed out / lengthened with a little bit of fresh yogurt, stirred in just so. There is plenty heat for most in the pepper and spices, but for those who must always add chile, dried chiles can be added to the spice mix. You may also wish to add fresh herbs – though I am always a fan of that, I feel it tends to spoil some of the warm simplicity of the soup. A better direction to go in would be to stir in cooked lentils or rice or small pasta and make it more of a stew.

I’ll keep taking it as is. Okay, maybe some yogurt…

Key : The key to this recipe is to take it slow, man.

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