Tasting Rome's Picchiapò
Aglaia Kremezi's Warm Yogurt Soup with Grains and Greens

Melissa Clark's Curried Coconut Tomato Soup

Melissa Clark's tomato coconut soup

A nice little recipe to have in your back pocket for those days when dinner needs to be cozy and comforting, but also quick. It comes from Melissa Clark's Cook This Now, which is not just a great collection of recipes that manage to be both (mostly) simple and yet also sophisticated, exactly like her NYT column, but also makes me nostalgic for the good old days of cookbooks, when they were printed with regular fonts on normal paper, with a few glossy pages of photos gathered together in bunches. The Internetization of cookbooks has tired me out a little. Look at me, out on my lawn with a broom.

The soup, made with canned tomatoes and an array of warm spices, is made creamy with coconut milk instead of cream, so it's good for the vegans or lactose-intolerants in your life (use coconut oil instead of butter to begin with if it's a dietary necessity). We are neither vegan nor lactose-intolerant, but found this soup almost compulsively good. The balance of flavors was so perfect that it was hard not to go back for thirds. ("We", that night, was me and Hugo, so it is child-friendly - just leave out the chile powder if necessary or use a not-too-spicy curry powder). Sometimes cumin can get a bit much, you know? But here, smoothed out by the coconut, and balanced by the coriander and curry powder (I use this one, which is excellent), it was just right.

Tomato coconut soup

I was feeling ambitious the night I cooked the soup, so I also made Melissa's suggested accompaniment of whole wheat parathas, but they were a little fussy. Next time, I'd make grilled cheese, as I usually do with tomato soup, and call it a day.

Oh and next time, I'd also do what Melissa suggests as an alternative topping to the chopped herbs (missing from our plates because as soon as the soup was ready I suddenly got very hungry and needed to sit down and eat rather than chop anything else) and toast some coconut chips, mix them with sea salt and drop them on top of the soup for a crunchy contrast. You should definitely try that.

NB: This is not a thick tomato soup; it's meant to be thin, but not watery. The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup coconut cream, which I left out when I made it. You can add that if you'd like, for a richer soup, or you can add less water (3 cups instead of 4) if you prefer.

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Melissa Clark's Curried Coconut Tomato Soup
Adapted from Cook This Now
Serves 2 to 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil
1 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch chile powder
1 large can (28-oz) diced tomatoes
1 regular can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut cream, optional
Chopped fresh cilantro, mint or basil, for garnish

1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very tender, about 10 minutes.

2. Stir in the curry powder, coriander, cumin and chile. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in the diced tomatoes and 4 cups of water (3 cups, for a slightly thicker soup) and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. Whisk in the coconut milk (and coconut cream, if using) and check for seasoning. Let the soup simmer for another 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped herbs.