I love cooking as much as anyone, but on busy weeknights the energy to prepare an elaborate meal is usually nowhere to be found. As you can only have frozen pizza so many times, simple soups like this spicy tomato soup are a lifesaver.
Based on a Dutch takeout classic, this one is among my favorite quick but filling meal options! If you can multitask a little while cooking, you can have it on the table in 30 minutes.Jump to Recipe
What is “Chinese” tomato soup?
If you’ve traveled a bit, you’ll know that almost every country has a local Chinese community. This generally means plenty of Chinese takeout restaurants. You may also be aware that the dishes served at these restaurants usually aren’t exactly authentic, and that they’re tweaked to suit local tastes.
One special thing about Chinese takeout places in The Netherlands, where I’m originally from, is the strong Indonesian influence. Indonesia is a former Dutch colony, and since Dutch cuisine itself is pretty much limited to mashed potatoes and fried snacks, Indonesian food has been readily embraced.
As a result, you’ll find such things as Indonesian prawn crackers, sambal (chili paste) and kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) in Dutch Chinese restaurants.
One dish that perfectly marries these ingredients from different countries (and gives them a twist to suit the Dutch) is “Chinese” tomato soup. No, not the egg drop soup you’re used to. This is a sweet variety, thickened with corn starch and served with yummy thin omelette strips!
This tomato soup is easy to make, as it uses a humble tomato purée base with different seasonings to layer the flavors. It’s generally not served spicy, but for this recipe, let’s add a little chili kick, shall we?
Spicy tomato soup ingredients
This quick and easy spicy tomato soup is made with a tomato purée base, although we’ll add a fresh tomato for some extra vitamins and depth of flavor. If you don’t have any on hand, though, you can skip it.
It’s also possible to use canned whole tomatoes. Whatever floats your boat! The point is for it to be quick.
To add a kick to this tomato soup, something it normally doesn’t have, I used sweet chili sauce and sambal. I love the complex taste of sambal badjak (Indonesian chili paste with shallots, garlic and fermented shrimp paste) in this soup, but you can also use the more basic sambal oelek.
If you don’t have any sambal on hand, you can probably also get away with something like nam prik pao (Thai chili paste), sriracha or gochujang. In a pinch, red pepper flakes or cayenne powder will also give heat, though less complex flavor.
As mentioned, this tomato soup is relatively sweet. The sweetness comes from ingredients like the sweet chili sauce, kecap manis, some sugar or honey, and a secret ingredient no one expects… applesauce!
I know it sounds a bit wacky, but I promise your soup will taste nothing like applesauce. However, it’s considered a “must” in this recipe for the sweetness and freshness it lends.
The other ingredients we’ll be using to build flavor are the following. I know it sounds like a lot, but you’ll have most of it in your pantry!
- Fresh onion
- Fresh garlic
- Fresh spring onion
- (Rice wine) vinegar to add acidity
- Ginger powder
- Chicken stock cubes (or veggie)
Tip: This soup can be made vegan by going for vegetable rather than chicken stock. Do make sure to use sweet chili sauce without fish sauce and sambal without shrimp paste if you want to go this route.
The Chinese love their corn starch! It’s what gives many Chinese takeout dishes that perfect thickness and texture, and this spicy tomato soup is no exception.
If you don’t have corn starch on hand, you can use double the amount of normal flour. It’ll change the texture and flavor a little, but at least it has similar thickening properties.
The point of this soup is that it’s supposed to be a full meal, especially if you serve it with some bread or prawn crackers. As such, it needs fillings! I’m using omelette strips and vermicelli noodles to bulk up my spicy tomato soup a little, but feel free to add whatever you feel will work well.
The classic Dutch version also often has the following:
- Shredded cooked chicken breast
- Mung bean sprouts
- Rice noodles
Some folks also like to add half a leek along with the onion.
Spicy Tomato Soup
- 1 soup pot
- 1 immersion blender
For the omelette strips
- 2 eggs
For the spicy tomato soup
- 1 tbsp neutral cooking oil
- 2 onions chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 can tomato purée 15 oz/425 g
- 1 fresh tomato chopped
- 5 cups chicken stock or veggie stock
- 6.5 tbsp applesauce
- 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
- 1 tbsp sambal I used sambal badjak. Use less if yours is very spicy. See notes for sub.
- 1 tbsp kecap manis see notes for sub.
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar or white vinegar
- 1/2 tsp ginger powder
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- 2 tbsp cold water
- 1 tbsp white sugar or honey, palm sugar, etc.
- 1 cup vermicelli or your favorite soup noodles
- 2 spring onions sliced
- salt & pepper to taste
- Heat the soup pot with some cooking oil on medium heat. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic, and sauté until translucent.
- Add tomato purée, tomato, stock, applesauce, sweet chili sauce, sambal, kecap, rice wine vinegar and ginger powder. Give everything a good stir and let simmer for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, preheat a frying pan with some cooking oil on medium heat. Crack the eggs in a bowl, add some salt and pepper and beat with a fork until they're even in color.
- Pour the eggs into the pan to make the omelette. Once the bottom has set well, flip to cook the other side. Take the omelette out of the pan and slice it into thin strips.
- Return to your soup: use the immersion blender to blend until smooth. If you like no bits whatsoever in your soup, strain afterwards to remove any tomato or chili seeds.
- Combine the tbsp of cornstarch and 2 tbsp of water in a small bowl and mix well to create a cornstarch slurry. Add the slurry to the soup.
- Add the vermicelli. Let simmer for 5 minutes, until the vermicelli has cooked and the soup has thickened.
- In the meantime, give the soup a taste. Tomato sweetness varies, and if you're not getting a distinct sweet flavor at this point, you can now add the tbsp of sugar (or more if desired). Stir and taste again. Done!
- Ladle the soup into bowls and top with sliced spring onion and omelette strips. Enjoy!
Hey spicy food lover! We’d love to know what you thought of this recipe. If you have any more questions or would like to share your own tips, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.