Heirloom Tomato Soup
Photo: Carolina Ayala / Contributor
An edible berry of a plant native to South and Central America, the Aztec word tomatl is the original derivative for the word tomato that once started out as a tiny wild fruit. An immensely popular vegetable across cultures and a rich source of umami flavor, the tomato has however, also been the victim of rampant genetic modifications to make it bigger, more abundant on the vine, give it color variations and resistant to bugs. At the time, I paid little attention to the richly red tomatoes my mother would use in cooking but on trips in recent years, I notice how deeply flavorful tomatoes are in India. While in New York, I also grew to appreciate the famous New Jersey tomato that appears in farmer’s markets across state lines late July and August, which many swear is the best tomato in America.
In Houston however, the local fresh tomato season is no more than 2 to 3 months and heralds the end of spring and the beginning of summer. For the past few weeks, I’ve been gleefully picking out giant yellow, orange, and red heirloom tomatoes from Good Thyme Farms and dropping them in dals and curries or in salads and sandwiches. Most of them have ripened on the vine and are packed with flavor. Trying to mimic a tomato soup we enjoyed at a cardamom farm while in India earlier this year, I made a new version every few days until I arrived at one that gave me the satisfaction the one in India did. A few small spoons of aromatic spices elevate the soup; the cardamom adds a sweet aroma and the coriander a lemony flavor to accentuate the tomato. Enjoy it warm or chilled.