The Warmth from Within

There was snow on the ground on Hallowe'en morning. It stuck around for most of the day, and some of it hung on to dark corners until the next day. It feels like winter is going to hit hard and fast this year. 
I  caught cold last week; I haven't been so sick in ages. Since my plans to flee to warmer climes fell through, I was at leisure to nurse my aching self over the week-end. Litres of ginger and thyme tea helped to get rid of most of my ills, but I needed something more; I needed summer in my belly. It's still early days for summer-nostalgia, but being sick can turn anyone into a blubbering mess, and I needed a quick fix: tomato soup.

Oh, I know that tomatoes are no longer in season. There are a few local stragglers to be had at the market, greenhouse crops and imports are taking over most shelves. But everyone knows that the best tomato soup comes from a can. No, no, no! I don't mean canned soup! I mean canned tomatoes! Whether commercial or homemade, tomatoes are preserved at the height of ripeness; basically, they are summer embalmed.

You probably already have a favourite tomato soup recipe, I am not suggesting that mine is better, but the following is an immune booster and a flu-buster. It contains ginger for its throat-soothing and warming properties (to take the chills of fever away); thyme for its anti-bacterial and anti-viral powers; cumin seeds will settle upset stomachs (however, if you feel really nauseous, tomato soup might not be a good idea), and help you get a good night's sleep; and garlic, because it is a cure-all.

The recipe calls for a 796mL/28oz can of tomatoes, but you can just as easily substitute a homemade jar of tomatoes. Once you've emptied out the can or jar, do not put it in the sink right away: half fill with some cold water, swirl it around to clean the sides, and reserve, you might need to add some liquid to the soup if it is too thick, and it would be a shame to waste all that tomato flavour!

Flu-Buster Tomato Soup
Serves four as a starter, two for a light meal (with salad or a sandwich), or one very sick patient.

1 can (796mL/ 28oz) tomatoes
2 medium onions
4 cloves garlic
3cm (1") piece of fresh ginger, peeled
10 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried (or oregano)
1 tsp cumin seeds or ½ tsp ground 
1 Tbsp each butter and olive oil
salt and pepper

Over medium heat, melt butter and olive oil.
Roughly chop onions, garlic and ginger, add to the oil.
When the onions begin to turn translucent, add the spices and seasonings.
When the onions are fully cooked, add the tomatoes.
Bring up to a simmer, and let cook for about 15 minutes.
Blend the soup until smooth, and check for seasoning.
Adjust the thickness, if need be, with water.

There's no cream in the recipe, but nothing's stopping you from serving the soup with a drizzle of cream, and a garnish of chopped green onions. You can also swirl some pesto (the raw garlic in the pesto will give your cold a run for its money!) If you want to go really fancy, serve the soup with a dollop of unsweetened, whipped cream and a sprinkle of chopped herbs.

Bon app'!



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