Sunday, July 8, 2018

Vajra Hotel's Tomato Soup

How can we be heading into the height of tomato season, and in the Bay Area we’re still wearing fleece? Seemed to be the perfect time to try to recreate a favorite tomato soup from our magical days at the Vajra Hotel in Kathmandu.

The Vajra Hotel is a complex of buildings and gardens designed by Western architects using Newari artisans. The carved wooden windows and doors, marble floors, and painted ceilings bring beauty everywhere you look.

The hotel serves delicious food inside the dining room, outside in the gardens, and up on the roof top cafes. Their traditional Tibetan and Nepali recipes are made following international cooking techniques, reflecting the two owners of the hotel: the husband is from Tibet and the wife is from Germany.

This recipe came very close to the Vajra’s tomato soup. Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Every Day cookbook, the extra step of roasting the tomatoes and garlic added to the the depth of flavors found at the hotel. Just a bit of extra butter was all that was needed to say that this is the next best thing to being in Kathmandu. Except it's not. Please go if you can.

My Paleo Marin Rating: 5 Persimmons


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 - 28 oz cans tomatoes, or 3 pounds of fresh tomatoes juicy enough to give off 3 cups of juice
4 small garlic cloves, unpeeled
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon salted or unsalted butter
2 large shallots, minced
2 cups homemade chicken stock (see recipe link here), or vegetable stock (link here)
1/8 - 1/4 red pepper flakes

4 tablespoons salted butter

Optional: Sliced gluten-free bread with your favorite faux shredded cheese 


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

1. Press tomato juice from tomatoes through a strainer into a large bowl. Set aside 3 cups.

2. Cover the bottom of a baking sheet with the olive oil. Spread the tomatoes out to cover the pan. Add the thyme sprigs on top. Wrap the garlic a a drop of olive oil in foil and place on the sheet. Bake for about 25 - 30 minutes, until the tomatoes turn color and are cooked through. Squeeze out the inside of the garlic and set aside. Discard any thyme stems.

3. In a large dutch oven, heat the oil and add the minced shallots. Cook through for about 3 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes, garlic, 3 cups of tomato juice, 2 cups of stock, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and partially cover with the lid. Cook for about 30 minutes until all the flavors blend together.

4. Add 4 tablespoons of butter and let it melt. Taste for seasonings.

5. Using an immersion blender, process the soup leaving some of the tomato chunks.

6. If preparing the topping, toast the sliced bread and shredded cheese in a toaster oven and add to the soup when served.

#soup #tomato #VajraHotel #Tibetan #Nepali #himalayas #smittenkitchen #recipe #vegetarian 

My Paleo Marin Rating 1-5 Persimmons
I try out these recipes so you don't have to (and modify them for Paleo where possible). The rating will reflect my opinion of the final result in terms of taste, ease of preparation, nutrition, and sometimes, cost.

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