Spiced Tomato Soup with Cilantro

This vibrant soup is loaded with sweet, vine-ripened tomatoes.  Cook up a pot when the garden is laden with scarlet fruit—so many you can cut up six cups worth, and still have a few to spare.  Or make a trip to the farmers’ market in early fall, before the last of summer’s jewels are gone for good (at least until next year).  If you don’t have that many fresh tomatoes, substitute a larger amount of canned.  The flavor won’t suffer, even if the broth isn’t quite as sweet.

Tomato paste adds body to this soup when summer tomatoes are particularly juicy.  If your tomatoes are on the meatier side, feel free to omit the paste.  Since it’s the rare recipe that calls for an entire can of tomato paste, freeze leftovers in small ziploc bags (one tablespoon per bag).  The next time a recipe calls for tomato paste, you’ll be all set.  Just toss the frozen red blob right in the soup or sauce. Or cut in half if you only need a bit, and pop the rest back in the freezer.

Serves 6


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups chopped onion
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • 6 large tomatoes, cut into large pieces (about 6 heaping cups)
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves and soft stems


  1. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, coriander, cumin, paprika and cayenne.  Stir and cook for 5 more minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes to the pot and cook until they become soft and begin to break down.  Add canned tomatoes, water and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tomatoes have broken down almost entirely, about 45 minutes.  Purée the soup in the pot with a handheld immersion blender, or in a food processor (be careful with hot liquid).  Remove half of the soup from the pot and strain through a coarse sieve.  Return the strained liquid to the pot.
  3. Taste for salt and add more as needed.  Stir in cilantro before serving.
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