OK, canned is faster, but this tasty soup is pretty quick Top with avocado relish or serve relish on the side on slices of toasted French bread.

October 06, 1993|By Bev Bennett | Bev Bennett,Chicago Sun-Times Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Condensed cream of tomato soup was one of the first dishes I ever made, popcorn and sugar cookies being the others. When I came home from a rough afternoon in fifth grade, I'd open a can of tomato soup, scoop it into a pot with some water or milk and feel very accomplished.

This probably went on far too long. I realized it was possible to make tomato soup but assumed it was too time-consuming compared to can-opener cooking and didn't bother.

That's because I was attempting a smooth bisque that requires peeling and seeding tomatoes, straining the soup and then thickening it. But when I thought of tomato soup as a delicious broth with chunks of tomatoes and other vegetables I knew I could eliminate many of the steps.

If you ever thought tomato soup was too complicated to make, I urge you to try the recipe that follows. It is full-flavored and very easy.

Hot and spicy tomato soup with avocado relish

Makes 2 servings

1 tablespoon oil

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 large jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded and minced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 large shallot, peeled and minced

1 ear corn

2 large tomatoes, cored and diced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

salt

avocado relish

2 slices toasted French bread, optional

Heat oil in medium pan. Add cumin seeds, jalapeno pepper, celery and shallot and saute over medium heat 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, with sharp paring knife placed at an angle, remove kernels from ear of corn. Add corn and diced tomatoes to pan and cook over high heat until tomatoes become pulpy, 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, chicken broth and bay leaf. Reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes. Season to taste with pepper and salt. Remove bay leaf.

To serve, pour soup into 2 bowls. Either top with avocado relish or serve relish on the side on slices of toasted French bread.

Avocado relish

1 medium, ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon minced cilantro

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

salt, freshly ground white pepper

Stir together -- gently but well -- avocado, garlic, cilantro, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste in medium bowl.

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