Creamy Tomato Cumin Soup

In this blog's short life, the most-attempted recipe might be Dara's Oven-Dried Tomatoes.  Something about those struck a chord, and I know a few of you are on your second or third batch.  My friend Angie posted a comment wondering what to do with the puree that's left after the canned tomatoes are drained.  By the way, Angie has three children under the age of 3, and I am SO FLATTERED that she finds any time at all to read my blog, let alone comment.  And I'm so impressed that she's doing things like roasting tomatoes.  I'd be eating Top Ramen every night.  (Okay, maybe not.  But close.)

Last week, making Priya's Tomato Lavender Chutney, I had the perfect opportunity to do some experimenting and try to answer Angie's question. I happened to have drained a gargantuan can (108 oz.) of tomatoes, so I realize that may not happen to you very often.  I'm now using it as a canister for my cooking utensils and plan to give Loretta a bath in it as its third use.  So if you have more modest leftovers, you may have to combine them with some purchased tomato puree (just make sure it doesn't have seeds) and thin it with a bit of water.

Something funny happened while in my catering frenzy.  I had a pot of chutney cooking down on the stove, for which I had a recipe, all the ingredients, and an absolute guarantee of yumminess.  I had dumped the puree into another pot  and found I was much more excited about what to do with that than about the other delectables I had going on. This is my leftover fetish at work.  Leftovers and random bits get my juices going in a way that a beautiful grocery store or unlimited budget doesn't.  My first idea was make enchilada sauce, but I didn't feel like soaking the chilies and basically going ape%#* with the whole thing.  This was supposed to be a side project, after all.  Then I thought of cooking it down into a paste with garlic and salt and tossing it with pasta and cream.  That's what I'd recommend if you don't have  gallons of it like I did.

But the soup idea won out.  My kids love grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup--Campbell's, Trader Joe's, whatever. They like interactive eating--anything that can be dipped or manipulated.  The puree already looked so smooth and creamy without even messing with it, so I figured I was just a few strokes away from delicious soup. Would I be telling you about this if I was wrong? Probably not. Yes, there's a good ending to this story.

It was so quick that it felt like I didn't cook dinner that night, which was a very good thing.  I'd been knee-deep in pulled pork and tapenade all week.  Even I want a break from cooking sometimes.

Creamy Tomato Cumin Soup

8 c. tomato puree (leftover from canned tomatoes or bought on its own--no seeds)
3/4 c. heavy cream or coconut milk
1 ts. ground cumin
juice of one lime
juice of one orange
1 minced garlic clove
salt and pepper
1 ts. sugar

Warm tomato puree in a large saucepan.  Add cumin, lime juice, orange juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and sugar. Add cream or coconut milk and bring to a simmer.  Taste, then add more of any ingredient to your liking.  If it's too thick, thin with a little water or more orange juice/lime juice.