A little while ago, when my friend Vanessa was visiting, my boyfriend Steph and I made her spaghetti and meatballs with homemade sauce. While the sauce was bubbling away, Steph wanted to add a little cinnamon – and my immediate reaction was something along the lines of “Are you crazy!?!”
A few days later, I was still thinking about his suggestion. I thought back to when I made moussaka – the cinnamon works so well in that recipe, so I started to change my mind – maybe there are other places for the tomato-cinnamon combo. Then I stumbled upon this recipe (from CHOW again). The chef, Michael Bulkowski, is heavy handed with the cinnamon in his tomato soup. I decided to give it a try – again, with a couple tweaks:
One of the very first changes I made to this recipe was adding a red pepper. For some reason, I find tomato soup 10x more appealing if it has red peppers in it, so I threw one in. I gave it a thin coat of olive oil all over, and threw it in a medium-high fry pan to get it a bit blistered and charred.
While the pepper was in the pan, I roughly chopped 4 big beefsteak tomatoes, 1 really small onion (or half a medium one) and 2 cloves of garlic.
Once the pepper had cooled a little, I seeded and roughly chopped that as well. I put about 3 tbsp of olive oil in a medium-large pot, and heated it on medium. I added the onion and garlic, cooking it until soft and translucent. I then added the red pepper and tomatoes and a WHOLE 8-inch cinnamon stick.
I then covered the pot, letting it simmer for about 20 minutes. Every once in a while, I’d give it a stir, making sure the cinnamon was nicely tucked in. When it was done, it looked like so:
I then poured it into my blender, leaving the centre of the lid off but covering it with a towel (that prevents the steam from blowing the lid off). I divided the whole pot into a couple batches, puréeing them one at a time. I tasted it and added a little salt and pepper. Then, I ladled it into bowls (and lunch tupperwares!) and topped it with drizzles of chili oil and balsamic vinegar. Oh, and don’t forget some toasty baguette with cheese for the side!
I must say, I’ve been really surprised by this soup. I really didn’t think I’d like it, but I LOVE it. I’ve been taking it to work as my lunch and I’m really enjoying it. I think it’s even better after a couple of days – it’s had time to mellow and for the flavours to meld. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve had time to get over the idea of tomatoes and cinnamon.