I've talked often about "memory food". When I start cooking, my thoughts drift to the place I called home for two decades. All of Amma's vessels were part of the RevereWare collection. On a wintry night (like the ones we have every day this time of the year), I cannot help but think of Amma's large copper bottomed RevereWare Dutch Oven filled with her signature tomato soup simmering away. We'd lay the table with cups for Appa and Amma. H and I got large opalware bowls. Amma would make croutons, the fried way of course. (And she would ration them out to us.) Then she'd bring the hot pot of soup to the table. During the rains, all we ever wanted was a bowl of soup with a small blob of home made butter and loads of croutons. And then the race to see who'd get to seconds fastest. Somehow, even today, it seems like the most comforting dish in the whole world.
My picture does the soup no justice whatsoever. I still think the fried croutons and the butter give the soup part of its character, I must admit that the soup does have its own stand out on its own. Is it the soup? Is it the memory? I haven't the faintest which it is. But it doesn't matter really, does it?
1/2 kg Tomatoes, diced
2 small Carrots, peeled and diced
1 Onion, diced
2 pods Garlic
1/4 Milk, optional
1 Potato, peeled and diced
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pressure cook the vegetables and the garlic with 4 cups of water. When cool, blend in a liquidizer and strain. Bring the liquid to a boil. Add the milk, if using. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot with croutons.
To me, this is a complete meal. Others, S included, beg to differ. Maybe it is the memories that make this simple soup such a family legacy. And on this day, I am happy to have those memories. Memories of our dining table, of our home, of our family spending time with each other over dinner, of Amma dishing out one delicacy after another, before and after work, and making it seem like no work at all. To the lady who taught me so much of what I know today, about just about everything; the lady who is a phone call away when I am faced with a problem at work, an issue with my in-laws, or a major task in the kitchen; the one I have come to consider one of the best cooks there is or ever was; the one about whom Appa says, "There's some magic in her hands for sure"; to the one who is my friend first and then my mother: Happy Birthday Amma!