This fantastic spicy tomato soup is inspired by South Asian flavours, with loads of spice and coconut milk for creaminess instead of heavy cream. It’s a bit of a departure from the classic tomato basil soup, but I promise it’s a good one.
If you have a cold, you should eat this soup. I know many people swear by chicken noodle soup (or chickpea noodle soup!) when they’re sick, but there’s a lot to be said for something spicy when you’re feeling poorly. We make this every time one of us is sick – Graham swears by it, and it’s one of the few soup recipes he knows. It’s easy to eat, as it’s pureed but not thick, great for a sore throat.
The soup is packed with plenty of cold-fighting ingredients like garlic, ginger, and turmeric, and it always helps. The hot pepper may also hurt your lips if they’re cracked, so go carefully.
That being said, it’s not as though you need to be sick to have this soup. It’s a great pantry recipe, using just canned tomatoes and coconut milk, vegetable broth (or water!), and spices.
- Olive Oil: coconut oil can be used if preferred.
- Onion: medium, about tennis ball sized. Red, white, yellow, doesn’t matter.
- Garlic: three cloves is plenty, I promise.
- Ginger: a thumb of ginger is a piece about the size of your thumb, or ~5cm long. If you hate any pieces of ginger in soup, finely grate it instead.
- Spices: cumin, turmeric, hot pepper. All ground for this recipe, though you can use cumin seeds, fresh turmeric, and cayenne pepper if preferred.
- Canned Tomatoes: whole tomatoes are often better quality, but it doesn’t really matter. You can use fresh, too (see tips).
- Vegetable Broth: you can easily use water for this recipe as long as you season adequately.
- Coconut Milk: full-fat canned, please. The thinner varieties don’t add enough creaminess.
- Salt and Black Pepper: to taste, always.
Tips and Notes
As is, it’s a great healthy tomato soup that’s easy to make year round. If you want to use fresh tomatoes instead, try to leave them on the counter until they’re almost too ripe. The sweeter, the better.
Use about 500 grams (1 pound) of tomatoes. Cut the fresh tomatoes into chunks and add them when you would the canned, then follow the recipe as written. It is a really lovely soup in late summer when tomatoes hit their peak.
You could also try adding a couple of slow roasted tomatoes before blending this up, for a bit more sweetness and concentrated tomato flavour. Serve it with a side of spelt naan or overnight bread and some red lentil patties to make a full meal.
Or, just go with the classic, good old bread and soup. Even better, with grilled cheese sandwiches! I also sometimes blend some chickpeas, red lentils, or white beans into this creamy tomato soup to increase the protein content – you don’t really notice them – but if I’m really sick I prefer it as is.
Since it’s such a basic recipe, with only five main ingredients outside of spices, I am hesitant to include my normal substitutions list. There are a few things you can switch up though.
Because I want to keep things really simple for a recipe I rely on mostly when I’m sick, I have only included a couple of main spices: turmeric, cumin, and fresh ginger. If you want to take it up a notch, add some coriander, cardamom, fenugreek, whatever spices you really love.
If you’re not vegan, heavy cream can be used in place of coconut milk, though the coconut adds a nice subtle sweetness that I recommend. I have made it with oat cream as well. It is an excellent vegan creamy tomato soup as is, and you won’t miss the cream!
More Great Soup Recipes
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Spicy Tomato Soup with Coconut Milk
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 small onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 thumb ginger minced (about 5-6cm)
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes to taste
- 400 ml canned tomatoes
- 400 ml vegetable broth or water*
- 400 ml full-fat coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon sea salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Heat the oil in a large pot over low-medium heat.
- Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes, or until translucent. Add the ginger and garlic, and cook for another minute.
- Stir in the cumin, turmeric, and pepper flakes. Add the canned tomatoes and vegetable broth. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cover and bring to a low boil. Reduce and simmer for half an hour, then turn off the heat and add the coconut milk.
- Puree until very smooth with an immersion blender (or carefully with a heat-safe mixer) and season to taste.
- Serve hot. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days and freeze well.
This recipe was originally published in August 2015. It has been updated most recently as of June 2021.