So Mark & Anne invited us over for dinner, and on the menu was Indian food.
I called Anne. "What can I bring?" I asked. "I am hoping you will say soup."
"Soup will be fine," she said.
I had an inkling beforehand, but no concrete knowledge, that Indian cuisine is pretty much completely bereft of soup. Probably, as Clifford Wright suggests, because so many Indian dishes are essentially stews, and, well, if you added soup to that you'd probably run out of spoons pretty quickly.
This dish, from a random coffee-table-type cookbook I picked up at Borders for $4 or something years ago, was the closest I could come on short notice–and two-thirds of the way through making it, I decided it was going wildly awry and decided to just disregard the recipe and fly by the seat of my pants, as it were.
Oh… the exploding part? Well, after we decided that rubbing the cooked soup through a sieve was (a) just way too much trouble, and (b) going to produce something more akin to reddish water than to a tasty soup, Jim took on the task of pureeing it smooth in the blender instead, whilst I hung around upstairs working.
Five minutes later: shrieks! expletives! more expletives!
Seems I had forgotten to mention to Jim, who had never had occasion to learn this through experience, that when putting soup in the blender it is important to fill the jar only halfway and to hold down the lid with a towel. Neither of these precautions was taken. The result: Bloodbath in the kitchen! (Don't worry; it's only ketchup, er, tomato soup.)
Soup on the walls. Soup on the toaster. Soup on the cabinets. Soup on Jim.
Good man that he is, though, he had it 95% cleaned up before I even got downstairs…
Oh, and Anne's dinner was utterly fabulous. A wonderful array of dishes, including to-die-for onion fritters, turmeric rice, red lentils stewed with vegetables, raita, almond chutney, and (last but certainly not least) chicken baked with chilies and onions. All of which recipes, Anne says, are from Madhur Jaffrey's Quick & Easy Indian Cooking, which I am so totally putting on hold at the library/breaking down and buying.
Indian-Esque Tomato-Cilantro Soup
Serves eight (I doubled the original recipe, 'cause, well, there were eight of us. It might've served nine, had so much of the soup not splattered dramatically all over the kitchen.)
2 Tbsp butter
2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped and drained again
6 scallions, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
5 cups half-strength vegetable broth
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp thick hot sauce, such as Drunken Angel Hot Sauce <– a repeat plug, but a sincere one
1 cup sour cream
For serving: 2 more scallions, sliced
Heat the butter over medium heat in a soup pot. Add well-drained tomatoes, chopped scallions and bay leaf. Cook, stirring frequently, until scallions are tender and liquid is somewhat reduced, about 5 minutes.
Add cilantro, garlic, broth, salt and pepper flakes. Bring just to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, about 30 minutes.
Remove from heat; fish out bay leaf. CAREFULLY, in BATCHES, and with a TOWEL over the lid, puree soup 'til smooth in a blender. Return to pot; keep at a low simmer, covered, until just about ready to serve.
Place sour cream in a medium bowl (or a Pyrex 4-cup measure, which will serve admirably). Whisk in about 1-1/2 cups of hot soup until very smooth. Gradually return mixture to pot, whisking all the while. Stir in hot sauce. Heat through–do not boil!–and taste to correct seasoning.
Serve each bowl topped with scallions, which have a 50% chance of remaining decoratively on the surface and an equal chance of sinking to the bottom like tiny green stones. (I have no idea why this is.)
Enjoy in good health and with a minimum of dramatic explosions.