Spicy prawn soup in November is like winter haiku in a bowl. Just a few ingredients celebrating the season creating deep, warming harmony on your palate. The heat hums in this spicy prawn soup, never jarring, just right. I started the season of soups with one that’s not too hearty and heavy, yet it’s filling enough to be a meal by itself.
Surf and turf
This soup is spiced with Goa sausage or chouriços de Goa or choris, its popular name. A desi cousin of the Portuguese and Spanish pork sausage, the chorizo, it is hotter since it has Indian spices, ginger, garlic, Kashmiri chillies and local toddy vinegar. Punchy, both in its bold red colour and flavour, the choris is a great lender of flavour to soups, stir fries, pulaos and basically anything that it’s added to. A little of this smoked and dried pork sausage goes a long way. It keeps for months and is a nifty ingredient to have in the pantry. Read more about it in this excellent article.
The fiery choris in the soup is sweetened by succulent, fresh prawns and ripe, red tomatoes (again, brought to India by the Portuguese). If you don’t eat pork, use any other hot sausage; although it won’t replicate the typically tangy heat of the choris. The deep crimson of the spicy prawn soup is enriched both by the Goa sausage and the rotund, red tomatoes. Use the ripest ones you can find or canned ones in juice work wonderfully too. A bowl of this red soup whets the appetite and builds warmth at the same time.
Tips on the tomato
To get this soup right, it’s important to have plump, ripe, red tomatoes. Plunge them in boiling water for 5 minutes and the skin will start wrinkling. Peel them and chop or crush them, keeping all the juice. If you can’t find fully ripe tomatoes, canned ones will do perfectly well. Do not use tomato puree; the flavour and texture is very different from what this soup needs. Although you could use a little puree to thicken your soup. Just a couple of tablespoons, no more.
A simple soup
A haiku is frugal with words, similarly, this spicy prawn soup needs just a few ingredients. An onion, a few cloves of garlic, a carrot or two, some sprinkles of herbs here and a splash of olive oil is all. These are refrigerator and store cupboard staples, so no extra shopping is required. And the cooking is quick, no need to watch the pot. For a dish that’s low on effort, this spicy prawn soup has welcome depth. The flavours – tang, heat, sweetness and the herbaceous halo from the rosemary linger on, sustaining the feeling of warmth in your belly. It’s a cosy and deliciously satisfying soup to add to your winter menu.
Spicy Prawn Soup
- 250 g fresh, medium-sized prawns, cleaned, shelled and de-veined
- 150 g choris (Goa sausage), casing removed and chopped
- 200 g ripe, red tomatoes, peeled and crushed
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 medium carrot, finely diced
- ½ tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 400 ml water or vegetable stock
- Feta cheese to crumble on top (optional)
- Place a pot on medium heat and gently saute the onion, garlic and sausage in olive oil for 3-4 mins till the onions are soft.
- Add the carrots, a little salt and cook covered for 3-4 mins till the carrots are really soft.
- Now add the rosemary and the crushed tomatoes along with the juice and water/stock. Allow it to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 mins till all the ingredients amalgamate into a thick mixture. Season with salt.
- Tip in the prawns and simmer for a further 5-7 mins just until they're cooked.
- Serve warm, sprinkled with crumbled feta and drizzled with olive oil.