Tomatoes were first introduced to Japan over a hundred years ago by Europeans but didn’t really gain any popularity until after World War II. Today, the plump, rosy-red fruit is served mainly in leafy green salads or as a garnish. When cooked in a sauce it’s served with Continental food only—tomatoes never appear on a strictly Japanese menu.
I personally adore the combination of fresh tomatoes and a broad-leafed Japanese herb called shiso. Experimentation in my Tokyo kitchen several years ago produced this cross-cultural soup. The recent availability in the United States of shiso leaves (as well as the seeds to plant in one’s own herb garden) makes it possible for me to bring this recipe into my active file once again.
Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a small heat-proof glass or porcelain-lined saucepan with the water and rice wine. Simmer uncovered over medium heat for 5–6 minutes. Strain the liquid (there should be a scant
In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse-process the fresh tomatoes until evenly but coarsely pureed. Add the pulp from the sun-dried tomatoes and pulse-process again. Add this two-tomato puree to the simmering stock, season with the sugar, and cook for 3–4 minutes. Dribble in the fresh cream, stir to mix, and keep the soup hot but don’t let it boil.
Rinse the shiso leaves under cold water and pat the leaves dry. Trim off the stems. Reserve four of the smallest, prettiest leaves whole, and roll the remaining six leaves tightly before slicing them into very fine julienne. Toss the shredded herb into the soup and stir to mix.
Serve in individual soup bowls, garnishing each with a whole shiso leaf.
© 1985 Elizabeth Andoh. All rights reserved.