Beat the Heat with a Spicy Moroccan Tomato Soup

Before I begin, I ask a moment of your indulgence. Picture me, if you will, walking around my office, proud puff pigeon-chested, handing out cigars to my colleagues, grinning from ear to ear and flashing the picture you see above to anyone who will stand still long enough to look.

Okay, I didn't really do that, but only because I don't have an office to go to. So you'll have to stand in for my hapless co-workers. Ain’t she a beauty? That pretty girl is my first tomato of the season and not only is she gorgeous to look at (do you see those striations of yellow? that smooth orange skin? that shape, my goodness, that shape?), she was gorgeous to eat. Cut cross-wise to reveal flower shaped rounds, I ate her all by myself with nothing but a dusting of sea salt. Divine.

In the spring, I purchased three different varieties of heirloom-tomato seedlings at Tangletown Gardens, letting myself be swayed by the poetry of their names: Red Pear, Striped Cavern and Purple Russian. Aside from the Striped Cavern above, I’ve gotten a handful of tiny light bulb-shaped Red Pears, and boy does this put me in the mood for tomatoes. Which is fortunate, because it just so happens to be tomato time!

It also happens to be really hot in Minnesota. And muggy. I think we can safely say we’re in the dog days of summer. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I may move a little slower, seek out the shade and cool bodies of water, but for the most part, I live with the heat because although it is intense, it is short-lived, and if there is any way to welcome it into my skin, my core, to save up for those bitter February days, then I’m game to try.

Having said that, there are those days (like today and yesterday and the day before) when the heat starts to feel a bit unbearable by four o’clock in the afternoon. If you’re like me and you don’t have air-conditioning in your kitchen, chances are your mind trudges through the same weary steps as mine. It’s so hot. I’m hungry. Actually, I’m not even hungry. What should I make for dinner? It’s sooooooo hot. Hot. Hot. Hot. I can’t possibly cook anything. Or eat anything. So so so hot.  And then I pour myself a glass of white wine, throw some ice in it and go outside to sit with my kids, sweat and ponder the question further.

Well, friends, I’ve got some good news and some great news and some even better news. The good news is, I found a delicious recipe that barely requires any cooking whatsoever. The great news is that it’ll cool and refresh you as you eat it. And the best news is that it involves lots of tomato love!

Conventional wisdom says that eating spicy foods when it’s hot out helps you feel cooler by raising your body temperature so that there is less difference between you and your surroundings and also by making you sweat, which cools you off. I have no idea if this is true or not, but when I stumbled on this recipe for Moroccan Tomato Soup on one of my favorite food blogs, The Wednesday Chef, I knew I had to test the theory. It sounded perfect - a spicy gazpacho of sorts, with cumin, cayenne and paprika to set our mouths afire and cool our sweaty brows.

Not only did it not heat up my kitchen, it was delicious. Cool, exotic, mysterious, fiery, aromatic – like a deliriously farflung adventure, right in my bowl. I can’t really say if I felt measurably cooler after eating this soup because I was too busy scraping up every last bit with my spoon and exclaiming how delicious it was. I’ll just have to make it again to make sure.



Moroccan Tomato Soup via The Wednesday Chef

(serves 2)

2 shallots, minced fine

5 teaspoons sweet paprika

3 teaspoons ground cumin

Large pinch of cayenne pepper

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

3 pounds tomatoes, cored, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup packed chopped cilantro or parsley leaves

2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1. In a small saucepan, stir together the shallot, paprika, cumin, cayenne and olive oil. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

2. Put the chopped tomatoes with their juice in a large bowl. Pass an immersion blender through once or twice, leaving most of the tomatoes still chunky. Stir in the cooked spice mixture, the cilantro, vinegar, and lemon juice. Taste for salt. Eat immediately.



Gabriela Lambert is a frequent contributor to Simple, Good and Tasty. Her last post for the site was The Season for Sweet, Sweet Corn. You can also read more of her writing on her blog: