This soup we like with zucchini, tomatoes, and tofu.

Sometimes we go to this place on Denman for pork belly, and we always get this soup when we go there. It’s a spicy tomato-based soup, and it’s nicely salty and filled with tomatoes and zucchini and chunks of tofu, and it doesn’t sound like much but it’s delicious. I would almost choose it over a table full of meat and beer, it’s that good.

I don’t have the restaurant’s recipe for the soup, but it’s easy enough to interpret at home, with what we have in our cupboards. It’s also perfect for this time of year, when thunderstorms threaten our clear skies and the heat breaks, however briefly. It’s also very seasonal, and all of the ingredients will still be available well into fall.

Spicy tomato and zucchini soup

(Serves four to six.)

  • 1 tbsp. vegetable, canola, or peanut oil
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 cups diced zucchini
  • 1 5.5 oz. can tomato paste
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 to 2 tbsp. Sriracha
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 cups diced tomato
  • 1 cup diced tofu
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallion
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: 1/2 cup chopped dried kelp

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, sauté onions in oil until translucent. Add garlic, cooking until golden, then add zucchini, kelp (if using), tomato paste, and all six cups of stock or water.

If you’re using stock, you may want to lessen the amount of soy and fish sauce you use, especially if your stock is very salty. Definitely start with less and add more to your own taste. I make this with water because of my unshakable cheapness, so I use more of the salty stuff to make it taste not like water.

Add soy sauce, fish sauce, Sriracha, and lemon juice. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Add tomatoes, tofu, and scallions, and simmer for five to ten minutes, until scallions appear to have softened. Adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve hot, with something cold, like beer, sake, or shochu.