curried tomato soup

Man, I am more than ready to cross this week off the calendar. I’m a pretty introspective person in general and admittedly anxious by nature, but this was different. Sleep wasn’t a thing this week, even though I have a wicked case of Man Cold. I drank more than my fair share of wine. I thought a lot about my privilege. I felt embarrassed.

And I should. I talked the “I’m With Her, Black Lives Matter, LGBT rights are human rights, the future is female” talk and I didn’t walk the walk. I didn’t ACT. I leaned on the donations I made – “see I’m doing something!” – when in reality I live in a bubble of a city, one that I chose in part for that reason. I left the Deep South almost five years ago and have lived in only liberal-leaning cities ever since to escape what I suppose will soon be the law of the land. And then I sat back and basked in my relief. I failed to consider that my personal freedom means absolutely nothing when so many others, including some of the people I love the most in this world, aren’t really free.

ingredients plus cayenne.jpg

I could’ve gone just across the Bay to Oakland and joined in the protests, I could’ve knocked on doors and made phone calls to get the word out. I could’ve worked harder to protect the rights of people I care about, rights that I already enjoy and always have. But I didn’t. I’m deeply ashamed of myself in this way, but being vulnerable and open about my wrongs has always been the first step to making them right.

The next step is taking ACTION. So, this week I’ve turned my focus to the needs of my community, and have sought out the volunteer opportunities where I have the most to give. Writing and running comprise a majority of my free time outside of cooking, so I’m taking steps to get involved with 826 Valencia and Running for a Better Oakland. I’m also going to continue donating to the non-profits I already support and add a few new ones to the list. Just a few bucks here and there will add up to make a difference.

I haven’t talked about soup yet, and that isn't necessarily on purpose. I get that this is a cooking blog and I should be writing about cooking, but I ultimately created this space to hold myself accountable for writing and when I sat down to write today the truth came out, as unrelated to soup as it may seem at first. But I think this soup still has a place in the conversation. It’s so heartwarming and creamy yet also vegan if you use coconut oil in place of butter, which is cool because that means more folks can enjoy it. It requires about as much effort as a PB&J and is ideal for sharing. Make this soup and take some to your neighbor’s house. Do you know your neighbors? Do they look different than you? I bet even if they do they like soup, and friendly neighbors, and FREEDOM just as much as you do.

Melissa Clark's Curried Coconut Tomato Soup, adapted from Cook This Now by way of Wednesday Chef
Serves 6 to 8

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or coconut oil)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth (water+extra salt works too)
1 13.5 oz can coconut milk

In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the curry powder, coriander, cumin and cayenne pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add the diced tomatoes and scrape up any spice bits stuck to the pan. Pour in 3 cups of water and stir. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. Whisk in the coconut milk and check for seasoning. Let the soup simmer for another 10 minutes. Ladle into mugs or bowls and try not to slurp.