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Easy, exotic soup recipes make delicious meals

By Charlotte Stewart cstewart@news-journal.com
Jan. 24, 2012 at 11 p.m.


When the Longview News-Journal put out a call for our Taste readers' favorite place to eat soup, a couple of people must have thought that place was their own cozy kitchen, because they sent us their favorite soup recipes, instead.

And the Taste readers benefit from it with the Chitra's Tomato Soup and easy Nacho Potato Soup recipes.

Keep them coming, Taste readers. The News-Journal is happy to share recipes.

Although Vasanthi Krishnamurthy, of Longview, and Chitra Balasubramaniyam, of India, make a great mother and daughter team, that's not the way it is in the kitchen.

"No, not at all," said Krishnamurthy. "When we have people over for a dinner, she has her time in the kitchen preparing her dishes, then I have mine."

But, that doesn't hold true when it comes to making Chitra's Tomato Soup. In fact, it looks like a coordinated symphony of precision time choreography.

"That's because this is her recipe," Krishnamurthy said sheepishly.

The India native said during her 22 years in this country, 10 of them in Longview, she has developed a taste for some American foods, such as pizza, but mostly she prepares the Indian dishes or fashions her own recipes.

Unable to find locally some of the spices she needs, she makes a list and checks it twice before heading out for a big shopping trip in Dallas.

Krishnamurthy said she "loves America" and "loves, loves, loves, loves" Longview, but her taste buds still prefer the cooking of her homeland.

Her son, 21-year-old Adhitya Krishnamurthy, eats what most students at the University of Texas at Tyler eat, she said, and has encouraged her to expand her palate.

"No meat, no eggs," she said, emphasizing she will maintain a vegetarian diet.

She plans to go into business with her son in a contracting business once he gets his engineering degree.

The soup has multiple steps and takes more than just a few minutes, but has a very distinctive taste, unlike tomato soups to which the American palate has become accustomed. You need not make your own croutons, although Balasubramaniyam did.

Chitra's Tomato Soup

10 hot house tomatoes

2 red onions, diced

5 tablespoons butter (unsalted)

1 teaspoon sugar

teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper (ground)

1 packet Croutons (about a cup, to taste)

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 tablespoons custard powder, vanilla flavor*

Boil whole tomatoes for 10 minutes. Peel off the skin and keep them aside.

In a separate pan melt 5 tablespoons of butter and cook it for 5 minutes, add 1 teaspoon cumin seed in it.

After the splutter of the cumin seed stops, put cut red onions in it, and sautee until golden brown.

Peel the cooked tomatoes, blend them with a little water (using the same water in which the tomatoes were cooked) and pour on top of the sauteed onion. Let it boil for 10 minutes.

Turn the stove off and strain the soup using a strainer. You will have to stir it thoroughly in the strainer to remove the pulp from the liquid. Keep all this aside.

In a separate bowl, mix 2 tablespoons custard powder in 1 cup of cold water (doesn't have to be from the refrigerator). After the custard powder is thoroughly mixed, pour the strained soup on it. Let it boil preferably in a pan (keep mixing nonstop) for 10 minutes, add sugar and salt while it is boiling.

While serving sprinkle black pepper on top of the soup and add croutons as needed.

Enjoy the hot tomato soup.

Custard powder is available at most Asian stores, but may be substituted with corn flour.

Susan Baker doesn't live up to her surname.

Between teaching and after school activities as a Spring Hill Junior High Texas history teacher, being an active grandmother, helping to care for a sick relative, church and church activities, the last thing she wants to do is spend hours slaving over a hot stove - even if her kitchen is exquisite.

"I like it quick, I like it simple and I like it easy," she said, with that serious teacher tone all former students remember.

"This is something that someone shared with me, and it's really popular, so I thought I'd share it, too."

"I think it's funny that we're putting this in the newspaper now," Baker said. "I just got a couple of requests on my Facebook for it."

She said she got this basic recipe from another teacher "long, long ago" and made a few changes to it.

"I'm making a triple batch today," she said on Thursday. "We'll have it for dinner, and I'll have some to take to the teachers' luncheon."

She said teachers' luncheons were a "great place" to swap recipes. So, come on teachers, let's hear from ya.

For the most part, Baker thinks brand names ingredients for this recipe do not matter, except for the diced tomatoes. "I think Rotel is a little better," she said. She hasn't tried other American processed cheeses, so she doesn't know whether Velveeta can be substituted.

One of the changes she made is the addition of chicken. She uses -inch cubed cooked chicken breast, although she thinks canned chicken is probably fine.

You can reduce the cheese to one cup per recipe and it's still quite good. I used a bit more than a pound of chicken for three recipes.

Nacho Potato Soup

1 can Rotel diced tomatoes

1 box au gratin potato mix

1 can corn, drained

1 can chicken broth

2 cups milk

1 cup shredded Velveeta cheese

Cooked chicken (optional)

Combine Rotel, corn, broth.

Add cheese packet from potatoes and mix well.

Add potatoes, chicken. Boil mixture for 15-20 minutes, covered, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.

Stir in cheese until melted.

Add milk. Heat until just boiling, then remove from heat. Cool and serve.

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