My favourite method for turning a tin of tomatoes into a bowl of soup.
A speedy Harissa & Tomato Soup that is perfect for those still slightly chilly spring lunchtimes.
As previously advertised, instead of sharing all three recipes each month with my ingredient essay, I’m going to send them out through the month - still focusing on a different ingredient every month, but in a way that is much easier for my new workload as I’ve taken on a lot more recipe ghostwriting clients than I had when I first started this newsletter almost two years (!) ago.
This month we’re focusing on harissa, the punchy North African red chilli paste that is perfect for adding complex, buildable heat to a whole host of recipes. Find out more about it and get the recipe for my Beef & Harissa Stew here.
Tucked away in the recipe headnotes for making a speedy tomato sauce from a can of tomatoes in my first cookbook, Student Eats I scribbled down how to also make a bowl of soup from a can of chopped tomatoes with echoes of Heinz Cream of Tomato (the only pre-made soup I’ll eat and something I always have an emergency can of in the cupboard).
I’m a much better, more experienced recipe developer than when I wrote that book, and I’m also now 30 rather than 23, which also means I have much more culinary life experience, but I still stand by that method I hope that someone found. It is quick, easy and comforting, and perfect if you have tomatoes, but no emergency soup. I can’t think of any situation that can’t be improved by emergency soup; it is a lot like us Brits and a good cup of tea.
The beautiful vibrant, oily red of good harissa comes solely from it’s red chillies steeped in oil, but there is a reason many ‘cheats’ recipes are boosted with tomato, usually puree. Tomato both highlights and softens harissa’s fire. And, stirred into a bowl of soup before it is allowed to simmer away it adds spice, warmth and complexity to something that otherwise is just an afterthought lunch.
I’ve used Belazu (my favourite harissa brand) Rose Harissa here as it is versatile, but their smoked chilli version is also fantastic, and excellent here. This is a last minute hug-in-a-bowl, perfect for those days where the weather seems to have forgotten that it is supposed to be spring (we’re almost there!), so use whatever is convenient. Again, I’ve used a banana shallot here, but half a small red onion also works well, and whilst I enjoy the richness of butter here, if you need this to be vegan use oil instead; that is a coconut milk drizzle on top because I had some open in the fridge, and so soon before another food shop not a slick of cream in sight.
Harissa & Tomato Soup
Serves: 1 generously, Preparation time: 10 minutes, Cooking time: 20 minutes