I woke up this morning feeling a chill in the air. It's that time of year, when I start thinking about soup. It is also the time of year when I kick it up a few notches with herbs and spices. Widely used in Asian food cultures, herbs and spices are believed to be curatives, consumed not only to provide wonderful layers of flavor, but also to help fend off all sorts of diseases and infections. With the cold months around the corner, I'm thinking ahead, loading up on some of my favorite aromatics.
This Spicy Curry Tomato Bean Soup was inspired by my recent trip to the farmer's stand down the road. I was selecting some tomatoes, when Ms. Shelley said, "I have a deal on this bushel of yellow and red tomatoes. Some blemishes, but you just cut them out and stew the tomatoes. You'll have a great sauce." I took her advice and put down the beautiful end-of-season tomatoes I had selected, in lieu of the not so pretty ones.
Once home, I set out to poach the tomatoes in boiling water. Cutting away the bruised parts, I added the tomatoes to a large pot of boiling water. In less than a minute, I removed the tomatoes from the water and peeled away their skins. After cooking down the tomatoes, to a chunky puree consistency, I packed them in small pint containers for freezing, putting some aside for this recipe.
Combining some of the stewed tomatoes with cannelloni beans, adding spices and herbs into the mix, resulted in a delicious, wholesome soup that is quick and easy to make without compromising on flavor.
TIP: Anything freshly cooked is always better than anything processed or canned, beans and stewed tomatoes included. Food taste that much better, especially when in season.
Realizing that time may not permit you to cook everything from scratch, you can used canned beans and tomatoes. Buy organic and low-sodium, if possible. Do rinse the beans several times, until the water runs clear. If cooking dry beans, do so in unsalted water, slowly over low heat, until tender. Beans cook faster than that, but it's all about the consistency you are looking for. Personally, I don't like crunchy cannelloni beans (or navy, cranberry, etc...). Additionally, if you plan ahead of time, you can cook a bunch of beans, pack them in pint containers, and freeze them for up to 3 months.
TIP 2: If you prefer to use canned tomatoes, be sure to use San Marzano. They tend to be sweeter than the alternative. Peel (and seed, if you wish) them before making the soup.
NOTE: When making tomato sauce or cooking beans ahead of time, I never season the water. I prefer to control the seasoning in the final recipe, whatever that may be.
SPICY CURRY TOMATO BEAN SOUP
2 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 scallions, chopped
1 red Thai chili, stem and seeds removed, pod minced
2 teaspoons Indian curry powder
2 cups crushed stewed tomatoes
4 cups cooked beans
2 cups water or light homemade vegetable stock
2 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and finely julienned lengthwise
1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves only (or leaves and tender stems, chopped)
Kosher salt to taste
In a medium-size pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Stirring continuously, sauté the garlic, scallions and chili until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the curry powder and continue to stir for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, beans and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and cook down until the beans have broken down a bit and the flavors blend, about 30 minutes. (Use a potato masher to crush the beans lightly, making the soup thicken slightly). Season with salt to taste.
Serve hot, garnished with fresh ginger and cilantro.