One of my favorite things on a cold rainy day is tomato soup and a chilled glass of white wine at this cozy restaurant walking distance from my house. I love to sit and watch the rain and chat with friends. I wanted to recreate that cozy relaxed feeling yesterday (minus the wine, darn) when the rain came pouring down and the sky was covered in dark gray.
I don't usually make tomato soup - believe it or not. I do a mean homemade marinara over pasta, but rarely soup. I keep saying I'm going to perfect a recipe for it, but often the idea sounds too boring for some reason.
But yesterday my left brain was in a funky mood...and I got the idea of adding a middle eastern flair to tomato soup - and whelp, this Harissa Tomato soup was born. Harissa is Middle Eatern spice that uses hot peppers.
I wanted this dish to be creamy but not coconut (and I don't use real cream in any of my cooking)so chose macadamia nut cream. Sometimes I prefer it to cashew cream. It seems fitting for this recipe. But you can sub cashews and/or coconut cream instead if you'd like.
I though the addition of roasted raw cherry tomatoes would give it some extra flair as well - roasted tomatoes are an excellent addition to any tomato dish.
I decided to just throw the onions and garlic in the oven with the tomatoes to save time. But you can always sauté the garlic and onion with the olive oil instead - but that is an extra step. Omitting that step sounded appealing to me.
In addition to the harissa spice, the unique part of this soup is the addition of the homemade croutons. I love these croutons. My mom gave me the recipe years ago but it was made with butter. I sub vegan butter and they turned out just perfect. I use them all the time in caesar salads and kale salads as well. They are made in the microwave though, which I guess isn't the "greenest" or healthiest option, but sometimes the microwave is a life saver and if you only do it three times a year, so what!
I hope you and your family love this soup as much as we did. Add a glass of cold white wine and you'll be so cozy and warm on a wet gloomy evening. Share with friends. And remember to slow down while you enjoy this soup because that's part of the feeling I was trying to recreate - not feeling rushed or stressed and just watching and listening to the rain come down.
Harissa Tomato Soup Recipe
yields 4-5 bowls
- 7-8 ounces (about 2 1/2 cups) large cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1/2 large white or red onion, cut into chunks
- 4-5 cloves garlic
- sea salt + pepper to taste
- 1 tsp olive oil or spray coconut oil
- 1 cup raw macadamia nuts, soaked in water for an hour (discard soaking water before using)
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 14.5oz can or box of diced or crushed tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- handful fresh basil leaves and/or oregano
- 1 Tbsp sweetener (like cane sugar or honey)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp Harissa spice paste
garnish: croutons, vegan sour cream + fresh herbs of all kinds
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Spread the first 3 ingredients (tomatoes, onions and garlic) onto a greased baking/cookie sheet. Sprinkle veggies with sea salt and pepper.
- Cook for about 20-30 minutes until the veggies are soft and tomatoes start to brown on the bottom and onions start to brown on the sides.
- Meanwhile, in a Vitamix or other high speed blender, combine the soaked macadamia nuts with the veggie broth. Blend until creamy and there are no more chunks of the mac nuts. It should look like a cream.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the blender container.
- Add the roasted veggies and garlic.
- Blend everything until smooth or just a tad bit chunky (depending on how you like your soup).
- Transfer soup to a medium sized pot and cook on medium heat for about 20-30 minutes. Taste test the soup and see if it needs more pepper or salt. Salt brings out the flavors but you don't want to overly salt it. note: You will probably have to cover the soup because it does bubble and burp making a big mess.
- Serve warm with croutons, (vegan) sour cream and fresh herbs.
Gluten Free Crouton Recipe (microwave)
- 5 pieces of sourdough or other white gluten-free bread, cut into cubes
- 2 Tbsp vegan butter
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- In a microwave deep baking dish add the bread cubes and chunks of butter throughout (see image). Spread evenly. Sprinkle with garlic powder and sea salt.
- Microwave bread for 1 minute 30 seconds.
- Stir and mix well with wooden spoon.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 about 3-4 times. The bread should be brown but not burned. The bread will not be soft when it's finished.
- Let sit and cool. They will get very crunchy.