Recipe: Egyptian Tomato Soup

I'm just finishing up my book and looking forward to a week or two of summer before having to check back into regular life and — boom — I check the editorial calendar and it's "Back to School (and Work) Week"? Bummer.

So I flat-out refuse. After a month of ridiculous heat waves and then a bunch of chilly rainy days, I'm still summer's biggest fan. So I'm sitting squarely on my summer tuffet, choosing not to jump on the bandwagon of folks (folks like the talented writers of The Kitchn) who are planning ahead. In the spirit of living in the moment, I give you a piece about a hot tomato soup a friend and fellow food-writer, Patti Londre, had during a recent trip to Egypt. For me, this is summer food at its best. Although she says the Egyptian way is to serve it hot in hot weather, today I'm having leftovers (it blossoms with age) cold with a piece of baguette for lunch.

I suppose if you're in the back-to-school mood or making resolutions to take your lunch to work this fall, this soup would be a dandy thing to put in your files. But not so fast... don't we have a week or two of summer left?

The following comes from Patti Londre, of Worth The Whisk and Camp Blogaway Bootcamp for Food & Recipe Bloggers. The first time I made it I followed the recipe exactly as written. This last time I subbed a pound or so of my own garden's blemished tomatoes for the canned tomatoes.

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Egyptian Tomato Soup serves 4

When you visit Egypt you’ll discover it’s one of those destinations with such unsafe water that eating fresh foods like salads, fruits, vegetables, and even street food courts danger. These are the times I gravitate to soup, even when weather hits the heights of 111 degrees. Soups in Egypt are spicy and served blazing hot. One’s initial thought of consuming liquid fire might be “crazy,” but I was a sweaty mess anyway, hungry at each meal, and the soups — lentil, bean, vegetables, tomato — quite good.

One evening in Cairo, my husband and I walked to a cafe called Paprika. There, my blistering bowl of tomato soup was so satisfying, I mentally deconstructed it to recreate back home. Three things stood out: pimiento, chili powder and paprika (the name of the restaurant helped with that one). Who knows if that’s what they actually used, but I was happy. This recipe replaces my standard now, it is just so much more interesting. The fresh squeezed lime is a must, by the way.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (4 ounce) jar diced pimientos
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice; or 1 pound fresh tomatoes
1 (14.5 ounce) can low sodium chicken broth, or 2 cups homemade chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 limes cut into wedges
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and garlic, cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the pimientos and tomatoes, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes. Add the stock, chili powder and paprika and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Using an immersion blender (or transfer to a food processor or blender), puree until almost smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with fresh lime squeezed on top.

Patti Londre, a home economist and longtime food marketing professional, publishes recipes for home cooking and experiences from global travel at Worth The Whisk. She is also the producer of Camp Blogaway Bootcamp for Food & Recipe Bloggers.

(Image: Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan)

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