I love the color of this soup…incredibly vibrant. A good rule of thumb when it comes to food — if it’s naturally vibrant in color, it’s mother nature’s way of telling us to eat it.
A few weeks ago, I made this yellow tomato soup topped with seared sea scallops. Today’s soup is an adaptation of the former, with a slight Asian twist. Like the other soup, the base of this soup is yellow-orange tomatoes; however, today’s soup uses a stock infused with extremely fresh lemongrass and ginger that I picked up at my local farmers’ market. The ginger and lemongrass lend a subtle presence to the dish; just enough so you know it’s there, but not overpowering. I sauteed the onion, garlic, and ginger in extra-virgin coconut oil, so that you get hints of coconut, without it being overwhelming or rich — all the ingredients are harmoniously integrated with the front-and-center flavor from those beautiful tomatoes.
This particular variety of tomato — German Striped — is yellow-orange-reddish in color (with a similar marbled interior). They’re sweet and juicy, and their flavor is outstanding. When you start with a tomato like this, it doesn’t take much to transform it into an equally flavorful soup. Don’t worry if you can’t find German Striped tomatoes; rather, use whatever locally-grown varieties you can find and you won’t go wrong (just avoid those cardboard-tasting, flavorless [store-bought] tomatoes). Look for yellow-to-orange tomatoes, which are lower in acidity and make for a more delicate soup.
You can enjoy this soup on its own or with the addition of mussels. Garnish with sliced scallions, a few slices of toasted bread, and you’re all set.
Yellow Tomato Lemongrass Soup with Mussels
2 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
1-inch piece of ginger, grated
6 large yellow-orange tomatoes (~3 pounds), cored and quartered
1 quart lemongrass stock (recipe below)
12 Thai basil leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 pounds of mussels
Thinly sliced scallion, sliced on a bias, for garnish
In a large soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger, and cook until the onion is translucent. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Pour in the lemongrass stock and add the Thai basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes and then puree in a blender, adding the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil until the soup is smooth. Taste, adding more salt if needed.
Return the soup to the pot. Bring to a simmer, add the mussels, and cover. Cook until the mussels open. Discard any mussels that do not open. Ladle into individual bowls. Top with sliced scallions.
Serve with some grilled/toasted bread (rubbed with garlic, a good drizzle of peppery olive oil, and a sprinkling of coarse sea salt). This soup is bound to make you smile. Enjoy.
makes 1 quart
4 stalks lemongrass dried outer leaves removed
1 yellow onion or leek, sliced
8 thin slices ginger
10 sprigs cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
6 cups cold water
Place the lemongrass on a hard wooden surface and pound gently (with the bottom of a sauce pot or rolling pin) to help release its oils. In a stockpot, combine all the ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook uncovered for about 40 minutes. Pour the stock through a strainer, pressing as much liquid as possible from the vegetables before discarding them.