Garam Masala Chilled Corn & Tomato Soup
Garam Masala is every Indian cook's secret weapon. Literally meaning "hot spice mixture", Garam Masala is used in many different ways in this California-Indian kitchen: as an essential component in a traditional korma (more commonly known as a curry), as a delicious rub on lamb or steak, as a savory element in a sauce, or as a way to heighten that gorgeous Cali produce I bring home from the farmers' market. Garam Masala is not a single spice, but rather a blend of toasted and ground spices that is unique to every Indian household. Garam masalas purchased from different sources will all be a tad different. Like a Moroccan Ras Al'Hanout spice blend or an Italian family's tomato sauce, each Indian Amma (mother or grandmother) has her own take...and she is not likely to share her secret with you. But I love sharing secrets (never tell me one!), and I'm about to divulge my family's garam masala recipe to you.
2 tbsp - Coriander seed
1 tbsp - Cumin seed
1 tbsp - Poppy seed
3 whole Clove
3 whole Cardamom
1" Cinnamon stick
1 tsp whole Black pepper
Toast in a dry nonstick skillet over med-low heat for 2 minutes or until fragrant, rolling the spices in the pan frequently without burning those beautiful whole spices. Grind in an electric spice grinder (or coffee grinder) until you have a fine powder. That's it! You can totally buy garam masala if that's easier - I don't judge, but I promise the flavor is more impactful if you make it yourself!
Sungold cherry tomatoes are my addiction every summer. I actually gasp the first time I see them at the market every year, and there is a steady supply in my kitchen from June - September. Sungolds are those golden orange cherry tomatoes you see pictured - they are divinely sweet, like candy, with a little tart edge. They are the perfect snack, and I find a million ways to cook with them each summer. The same goes for sweet corn, also at their peak from June - September, and ever present in my summer kitchen. So, it was time to combine the two, with the help of my handy spice weapon, garam masala. I prefer the soup chilled in the summertime, but it can also be served warm. It happens to be vegan, but that doesn't remotely impact the creaminess or the flavor. Crispy quinoa adds a yummy and warm crunch to a cool soup, but feel to serve with soft quinoa or a toasty piece of bread.
2 lbs halved Sungold cherry tomatoes
4 ears of sweet white corn (white preferred for the ultimate color of the soup, but yellow works for taste)
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground fennel
1 - 1 1/2 tsp indian red chili powder (1 1/2 if you like heat!)
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp honey
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup - 1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup quinoa + 2 tbsp grapeseed oil + italian parsley
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the husks and silk from your corn and slice off the kernels. Pour the olive oil into a 9x12 baking dish, and place in the hot oven for 15 minutes. While the olive oil is heating up, prep your tomatoes. Take the hot oil out of the oven, and pour in garam masala, red chili powder, and honey. Wait for the aromas to build for about 1-2 minutes, and pour in the cherry tomatoes. Cover and cook in the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, pull the pan out of the oven and mix in the corn. Place uncovered in the oven for another 15 minutes.
Let the mixture cool for about 10-15 minutes, and then pour into the blender (you don't want this hot mixture to burn you, so let it cool for as long as it needs to). Add turmeric and 1/2 tsp salt. Blend until smooth. Add 1/2 cup - 1 cup of vegetable broth to thin it out, depending on the consistency you like. If you like it thicker, you can also blend in cooked quinoa. Add salt to taste.
Divide soup into 2-3 containers and cool in the fridge for at least one-two hours. Bring 1/2 cup quinoa to a boil with 1 cup of water, and simmer until curlicues are visible in the grains, about 15 minutes. When ready to serve, heat grapeseed oil on high. When oil is very hot, add quinoa and stir occasionally until quinoa is crisped. Top chilled soup with hot crispy quinoa, and arrange with 4-5 italian parsley leaves. Serves 2-3 for dinner, 4-6 as an appetizer.
If you're using regular cherry tomatoes, halve the number of cherry tomatoes, and use 3 more ears of sweet corn.