How did this notion of ‘tomato tea’ come up in the first place? Yesterday, I received a text message from a Vietnamese friend, Annie Ha. She had been to the Vegetable Markets with her husband and had bought a whole bag of tomatoes for me. So, how better to use them up than for soup?
Years ago, I went to the Berowra Waters Inn in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park outside Sydney for lunch with some overseas visitors Eddy and Isma. We were presented with an intensely-flavourful, but delicate demitasse of ‘tomato tea’ as we stepped from the seaplane on to the jetty – half a cup, and a fine porcelain cup, without a saucer. I was thinking it was a bit odd at the time but a novel difference to the usual glass of bubbly. It was simply delicious, and obviously memorable.Y ears after that, on a visit to Berlin, I met an old German friend of Frank Scheele, (whose mother ran the bakery store,
(rumoured to have Gestapo amongst her clientele), during the Second World War; and that he continues to operate). He knew of ‘tomato tea’ and gave me the priceless, if complicated, recipe. Beef mince and bacon is part of it. After simmering, the broth is then strained through muslin to remove all traces of solid matter. (I think I also had to whip egg white and stir that through it to catch any remaining traces of solid matter, before straining again). Work!
T he result was a clear, delicate, flavourful ‘tea’ with barely a hue of pink, but an intense sense of tomato. It was hard to convince guests that half a cup was all they were getting!Y ou might wonder the reason for this post, (which my recently discovered friend ‘Siri’ on my iPhone has basically typed for me without as much effort as you could originally have imagined).
Checking my Dropbox documents, I was not successful in locating the ‘tomato tea’ recipe, but I did come across another tomato soup recipe, which takes me back to a wonderful trip I did with Alan Guignon to India in 2004. Our travels took us to the Ranthambore National Park to hunt tigers – now ten years ago. While there, we had a ‘Tomato and Coriander’ soup, Indian-style, at the Aman-I-Khas tented camp. I was so impressed with this soup at the time, the General Manager took me down to the vegetable garden himself to see the tomatoes growing. Later, he set up a personal cooking demonstration with the chef in the camp kitchen to take me through the process, right from chopping the tomatoes. (I can’t remember if I had to put them in hot water to peel them first, but I do remember his using lots of ghee, and I was aghast.)
I leave it to you to gather how much I enjoyed the Tomato and Coriander soup – Indian-style.
Recipe for the ‘Tomato and Coriander’ soup