Human beings are creatures of habit, fact. We all have our daily routines, our trademark quirks, our staple foods which we’ll have day in, day out without fail, question or complaint.
One such staple in our household during Ramadan is and always has been red lentil soup . As far as Middle Eastern/Egyptian cuisine is concerned, shorbat adas is a classic, and my non vegan family and I have been enjoying it every day at iftar. The very nature of a routine however means that it can get, well, routinely boring. So when my mom exclaimed that she was stopping by the supermarket after work to pick up “a can of tomato soup” I was hardly surprised she wanted to opt for a new flavour – although I had to contest her on the canned part.
“Have you ever had canned tomato soup?”
“No. Have you?”
“I was a student for four years.”
“Of course I have, It’s disgusting. And loaded with sodium, preservatives and God knows what else.”
I then went on to convince her that no, fresh tomato soup isn’t just watered down sauce and that I could in fact cook up a gourmet standard, fresh soup with real whole food ingredients in just enough time to head to the gym before iftar.
And so I did.
6 medium/large ripe tomatoes, quartered
1 carrot, finely sliced
1 stick of celery, finely sliced
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp of tomato paste
1 can of chickpeas (or 1 1/2 cups)
2 cups organic vegetable stock (I use the Kallo brand)
1-2 tbsp fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon of agave syrup (or sweetener of choice, sugar will also work fine here)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Start by cooking the carrots, celery, onion and garlic in some cooking oil (you can also use a few tablespoons of vegetable stock, for a lower fat option) on a low heat, stirring frequently until onions are translucent and the vegetables are lightly cooked.
Add the tomato paste, agave (or sugar), basil, season with some black pepper and mix well before adding in the tomatoes. Let cook on a high heat for a minute before simmering and cover. Let everything cook for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes have shrunken down released their juices.
Add 1 cup of vegetable stock to the vegetables and cook for a further 10 minutes or until all the veg is completely cooked through.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes before adding to a blender along with the chickpeas and the remaining stock (or water) as needed, depending on how thin/thick you like your soup.
For the cashew cream
1/4 cup raw cashews (un-soaked)
Squeeze of lemon juice
2-3 tbsp of water
Grind the cashews in a spice grinder for 1-2 minutes until it forms a very fine powder (or paste). Thin out with a couple of tablespoons of water and a squeeze of lemon juice until you get a single cream-like consistency.
Season with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt, and serve with a swirl of cashew cream. Your guests (or dubious mother) won’t know what hit them. This soup is wonderfully rich in flavour thanks to the tomatoes and has an almost velvet like consistency from the blended chickpeas (which also pack a substantial protein punch might I add). Needless to say, she loved it.
We’ve also decided to put the “canned soup” discussion/incident behind us .
(Ps. you’ll have to excuse the slightly sub-standard instagram shots – I’m currently in the market for a new camera so my iPhone is playing substitute in the interim. I promise you though, the picture quality is no indicator of taste!)