This is one of my favourite winter soups. It's an amped-up vegan version of Heinz Tomato Soup. It has all the elements you’d expect in the tinned classic- the savoury fruitiness, the creamy richness, the touch of sweetness- plus an extra dimension of fragrance and heat from fresh ginger and a sprinkling of ground spices. Like it’s less-spiced forbear, this soup is a byword for comfort food, at least in my house; it’s exactly the thing for chilly days, sad days, and sick days. It’s an all-round tonic, good for what ails you- and very good with crusty bread.
Creamy Tomato & Ginger Soup
2 tbsp vegan butter
2 brown onions, peeled and diced
1 bay leaf
1 celery stalk, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
500ml good-quality vegetable stock
400ml vegan cream (I like oat- or soy-based creams for this, but full-fat tinned coconut milk would also work)
1/2 tbsp yeast extract
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp sugar
2-3 inches fresh ginger root (to taste), grated
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp asafoetida
1 tsp chilli powder (reduce this amount if you don't like it too hot)
1 tsp cayenne pepper (again, feel free to reduce the amount)
A squeeze of fresh lime juice
Ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1./ Heat the butter in a large pot or pan over a medium-high heat. Add to this the onion and garlic and fry till fragrant and translucent (about 5 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add in the bay leaf, celery, and about a third of the fresh ginger, and keep frying for a further 2 or 3 minutes. Add in the spices and keep frying for another 1-2 minutes, stirring while you do.
2./ Tip in the tinned tomatoes, stock, yeast extract and tomato paste. Stir thoroughly and allow the mixture to boil for about 10-15 minutes.
3./ Turn the heat down low. Add in the cream, sugar, the remaining fresh ginger, and simmer for ten minutes.
4./ Remove the bay leaf and blend the soup till smooth. Add a squeeze of lime juice and season to taste, before blending briefly again.
5./ If necessary, return the soup to the heat before serving; it should be piping hot when you eat it. Top with roughly chopped herbs and serve with a hunk of crusty bread.
Until next time...