Tandoori Love Soup

I call this “Tandoori Love Soup” because it’s very sensuous—the sweet and spicy tandoori seasoning (including saffron), shitake mushrooms, sweet yams, and fresh tarragon come together in a dish that is rich in flavor and diverse in texture.

Tandoori seasoning is a fragrant, heady mix of aromatic spices. Orange- and red-colored seasoning mixes typically include cumin, garlic, ginger, coriander, and paprika. Some will add in turmeric, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, onion, clove, cinnamon and saffron. The mix I use in this recipe is from Penzys Spices, and is salt-free. It includes coriander, cumin, sweet paprika, garlic, ginger, cardamom and saffron.

A tandoor is a cylindrical clay oven used in Asian, Indian and Middle East cooking. It is most often used in making flatbreads and meat dishes (i.e., tandoori chicken), and include many of the spices listed above. Curry powders are similar to tandoori seasonings, with many of the spices overlapping. However, when I was test-smelling all the curry powders at the spice shop, the tandoori definitely stood out as more dynamic than the curries; maybe it’s the addition of the cardamom (which I adore) and the saffron. You can substitute with your favorite curry powder, but I encourage you to get a little jar of tandoori and try it out. View it as a new spice adventure.

I’m not a big fan of creamed soups. As I kid I thought Campbell’s tomato soup was the worst thing ever invented—it was just SO boring. I like a bit more texture to my soups. But having just purchased my first immersion blender, I decided to “go there,” to the creamy, with this recipe; but of course, I still had to add in some texture in the form of greens, mushrooms, beans and fresh herbs. I’m tickled at how delicious it came out!

¼ cup water
1 large yellow onion, chopped

6 cups water
6 medium-large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and large diced
1 medium-large yam, peeled and large diced
4 ribs celery, diced
¾ cup cooked Cannellini beans (or about ½ of a 15-oz. can)
1 ½ teaspoon garlic powder (or 2-3 cloves fresh, minced)
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoons tandoori spice mix/seasoning (see “notes” below)

10 shitake mushrooms, chopped or sliced
1 bunch collard greens, cut into bite-size pieces
1 ½ cups cooked brown lentils (or one 15-oz. can)
¾ cup cooked Cannellini beans (or about ½ of a 15-oz. can)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon (plus extra for garnish)

1. In a large soup pot, sauté and soften the onion in a ¼ cup of water for a few minutes (adding water as needed so as not to stick).

2. Add the next set of ingredients: water, potatoes, yam, celery, beans, garlic powder, dried basil and tandoori spices. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the potatoes are very tender (15-20 minutes). Using a hand-held immersion blender, blend everything right in the pot until smooth (or desired consistency; if small chunks remain that is fine). If you do not have an immersion blender, you can use a hand-held potato masher, a Vitamix blender, or a regular blender.

3. Add the remaining ingredients (mushrooms, greens, lentils, white beans, tarragon) and cook on medium-low for 15 minutes, until the mushrooms are softened a bit. Garnish with chopped, fresh tarragon leaves.

Preparation: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves: 6 hearty servings

Notes: Tandoori seasoning can be found in many places. I buy mine from a local spice store, Penzys, but you can also order it online; just Google “tandoori seasoning” and get a blend that does not add salt. Add another teaspoon if you want even more flavor. / I usually don’t peel my Yukon Gold potatoes, but I’ve noticed that the skins can take on a slightly bitter taste when steamed or boiled, so I have decided to peel them in this recipe for a more refined flavor. / I do not use salt in my cooking, but through the addition of celery and greens, a naturally salty flavor is achieved. / If you eat this the next day, add a bit of water to thin it, as it tends to thicken up as it stands. / An immersion blender is a hand-held “wand” type blender that you use right in your soup pot. They can cream cooked foods very quickly. Mine is a Cuisinart and costs about $30. / As noted above, curry can be substituted for the tandoori seasoning. Also, if you don’t want to buy a jar of pre-mixed seasoning, you could add small amounts of the ingredients I list above in the spice mix (with the spices and herbs at the beginning in larger amounts than those at the end), or Google “tandoori spice blend” for a recipe.

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  1. Cynthia B. says

    I’ve been meaning to check out Penzey’s since I live near Oak Park. This recipe gives me the incentive to go there soon.

  2. Sandra Marthaler says

    Bravo Cathy — what a fantastic combo of flavors! Every cell in my body gave this soup a standing ovation! I will make this again for sure!

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