Back to Reality, and Tomato Soup

After a long weekend at Vida Vegan, with nothing but the best catering options and free-flowing coconut milk beverage all day long, supportive and smiling faces everywhere you look, and let’s not forget the communal nooch bowl, the transition back into the real world would have been challenging in the best of circumstances. That was a given for everyone who participated in this shared dream of a blogger meetup. What I wasn’t prepared for was the rough landing back at home, and I don’t mean on the airplane. Pitch black, shockingly frigid for a late August day, a vacant house with no electricity sat waiting where I remember leaving my welcoming, loving home. A shell of what it should have been, fallen trees had cut the mainline; the patient had long bled out and died on the spot. We could only pick up the pieces now.

All the reports indicated that Irene was largely over-hyped, there was little serious damage, and so why should I have expected anything else? No one was hurt, no windows broken, and only minor flooding to be found, but the real devastation remained silently waiting in the kitchen- more precisely, the fridge.

Working up my courage, and with one deep breath, I yanked open the fridge door as fast as possible, like tearing off a stubbornly adhered bandage. Puddles of water accumulated on the floor in seconds, and immediately a rancid odor polluted the air. Spoiled. Rotted. Beyond saving. Anything perishable, had clearly passed on long ago.

Notable exceptions were found, after sifting through the wreckage. Glorious heirloom tomatoes stuffed hastily in the fruit bin remained blemish-free, and a few heartier veg also miraculously survived. With a few solid pantry staples and a trusty gas stove, my mission was clear: electricity or no, there was soup to be made.

Generous spices amped up this ordinary offering, lending a warmth that higher temperatures couldn’t deliver alone. Ordinary, unremarkable, but so incredibly comforting when the very ground itself seems to be shifting underfoot. Moroccan seasonings were the inspiration, but only in a very loose interpretation did they emerge in the final dish. Measurements for those spices are approximate, so taste frequently as the soup bubbles along.

Such a small effort served us all well; I had a big bowlful right then and there, and later on in the day, my mom dished it up as a sauce over pasta.

Thankfully, the power did finally go on yesterday afternoon, and normalcy is slowly returning to the everyday routine. I’m still mourning the loss of no less than eight homemade ice creams, but if that’s the worst of it, I’d say we got off pretty easy on this natural disaster.

Spicy Tomato and Chickpea Soup

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 Large Yellow Onion, Diced
2 Cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
1 Stalk Celery, Finely Diced
3 Large Tomatoes, About 3 Cups Diced
1 1/2 Cups Water or Vegetable Stock
1 2.8-Ounce Tube Sun-Dried Tomato Paste
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce or Tamari
1 15-Ounce Can Chickpeas, Drained
1 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
3/4 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Teaspoon Dried Parsley
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary, Crumbled
1/4 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
1/4 Teaspoon Dried Basil
Salt and Pepper, to Taste

Standard soup procedure here: Heat the oil in a medium-sized stock pot, and add in the onions and garlic first. Saute for about 5 minutes, until softened and translucent, and add in the chopped celery and tomatoes. Cook for 5 more minutes before adding in the water or stock. Stir in the tomato paste, soy sauce, chickpeas, and all of the spices and herbs until thoroughly combined. Allow the mixture to simmer away, melding the flavors and concentrating the tomato-y goodness, for 45 – 60 minutes. It’s perfectly edible once merely heated through, but given enough time to mature, the flavor improves noticeably. Finish with enough salt and pepper to satisfy your own personal preference.

Serves 2 – 4

Printable Recipe


25 thoughts on “Back to Reality, and Tomato Soup

  1. Oh Hannah, when I saw a photo of a wrecked house in your home town, I was so hoping your house had escaped damage. Sorry for your chilly homecoming after such a fabulously warm weekend, but hopefully you’ve got your power back, and thankfully your losses, while upsetting, were not the worst that could happen. Nice recovery! The soup looks great — I love Moroccan-spiced soups.

  2. I love tomato soup! this sounds AMAZING with some daiya grilled cheese, I just found my comfort meal. Yum! It is awful when the power goes out and food is lost, I am glad your tomatoes held tight so you could make this.

  3. It’s horrible to lose a fridge of food, but so wonderful that you could salvage something good from it! Your soup looks almost exactly like the one I’m eating right now–how fun :) I’ll have to give yours a try soon!

  4. Oof. I definitely had nightmares about what would have happened to my fridge’s contents had the power gone out. You definitely made the best of it with this soup though!

  5. Oh losing electricity sucks! Especially when you are not home. And lost ice cream is very sad. But nothing major happened to the house and you are safe so that is what matters.

    And I am making tomato soup for canning and there is something missing from the recipe i am using. I think I will add a tablespoon of soy sauce to the next batch.

  6. I can see how that would not be a good thing to come home to, but I’m happy that only the icecream was completely lost and not something far worse then that. Hope everything returns back to normal soon!

  7. Hannah, sorry about the food in your fridge :-(
    The soup on the other side looks delicious, love the chickpeas and all the spices. Perfect at anytime.
    Hope you have a great Labor Day weekend :-)

  8. so sorry about the fridge.. we lost half of ours when something went kaput 2 months back… luckily we moved some stuff to the neighbors..

    Love the tomato soup.. its almost a chickpea curry! have a great weekend and wish u a clean and fresh fridge!

  9. Ack I am so glad you are okay! Hearing all the reports, I thought “OH MY GOSH HANNAH ON THE EAST COAST”. I am so glad you were away from the all the damage while it was happening! I mean, what would we do without your superb photographs, recipes, and writing?

  10. Oh, Hannah! You poor thing! *hugs* I, too, after worrying about all my friends/blog idols on the East Coast, had settled back into calm, having heard no reports of unpleasantness. You poor thing :( I hope you find yourself, and your home, back to normal super quickly! xo

  11. Oh no, sorry to hear about the flooding and spoiled food…I’m glad everyone was ok though!

    It’s been getting chilly here at night already and this soup looks like the perfect thing to warm up to!

  12. Hi
    In India we have a recipe called as chana masala or chole , which is a curry dish made with tomatoes and chickpeas and that is eaten with either hot steaming rice or roti.
    This dish is similar to that where the gravy is made by frying lots of onions, tomatoes and ginger garlic paste and then adding the other masalas.
    It looks similar to this .. I will definitely try this in a soup form. You can google chana masala or chole and check out that recipe
    Nice post.

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