In case anyone missed it, cilantro was officially crowned the *favorite herb* for the one year anniversary of Weekend Herb Blogging a few weeks back. That meant there were a lot of good cilantro recipes when we posted a list of favorite herb recipes from around the world. Of course, I also picked it as my own favorite herb, and posted a lot of my best cilantro recipes. Never satisfied, I vowed to use cilantro for Weekend Herb Blogging every week this month, which is a long way of explaining how I came to be making this soup last night.
First, for those who don't know, the leafy, very pungent smelling plant that much of the world calls coriander leaf is called cilantro in North America. In Asia it can be called Chinese Parsley, but don't confuse it with culantro, also called long coriander, since they're two different plants. I've already written about how the world is divided into cilantro-haters and cilantro-lovers, and I'm completely in the cilantro lovers group. When I posted on Blogher about cilantro being named favorite herb, Suebob left this recipe in the comments. It called for the cilantro to be tied into a bunch and then removed when the soup was served, but of course I had to sneak some chopped cilantro into the soup at the end. I'm not sure if Suebob knows I'm *the woman who never followed a recipe in her life* but I hope she will forgive me. Suebob's recipe originaly came from Martha Rose Shulman's book Mediterranean Light, which called it Coriander Soup. Since my version had decidedly more cilantro leafiness showing than the original version, I'm calling it Tomato and Cilantro Soup.
This was really tasty, with tomato and cilantro being the dominant flavors, but having nice undertones from the lime, cumin, and cayenne pepper. I think adding black beans and maybe topping with some sour cream could be a nice variation if you wanted more of a main course soup. Everything in this soup is perfect for the South Beach Diet, and even for the variation with the black beans, this would still be perfect for any phase.
Tomato and Cilantro Soup
(4 servings, recipe from Martha Rose Shulman's recipe for Coriander Soup which appeared in Mediterranean Light, with thanks to Suebob, recipe slightly adapted by Kalyn)
2 bunches of cilantro (reserve about 1 cup chopped cilantro when making bunches, see below)
2 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tsp. minced fresh garlic (or more)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. sweet paprika
2 cans diced tomatoes, 14 oz. (I love Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes)
4 cups water
4 T tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
pinch cayenne pepper
2-3 T fresh lime juice
Cut 2-3 inches of leaves off the top of each cilantro bundle and set aside, leaving some leaves on the stems. Remove rubber bands from cilantro bunches, rinse cilantro well, and tie cilantro back into two bunches with kitchen string.
Saute chopped onion in olive oil. (Use a deep pan rather than a wide one so the cilantro bunches will be covered with the soup when you add it later.) Add garlic, cumin, and paprika and saute 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice, water, tomato paste, salt and pepper, and the two bunches of cilantro, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 30 minutes, covered.
While soup cooks, wash and dry remining cilantro leaves. (I used a salad spinner.) Reserve a small amount for garnish, then finely chop remaining cilantro leaves, about 1 cup.
After 30 minutes remove tied cilantro bunches from soup, picking out any cilantro leaves that have broken off. Puree soup with a food mill, food processor, or immersion blender. Turn heat back on under soup and add cayenne pepper, lime juice, and chopped cilantro and cook 2-3 minutes. Serve hot with a little coarsely chopped cilantro sprinkled on top for garnish.