Tomato saffron soup

Tomato saffron soup

Margaret Fulton Favourites
Tanya Zouev and Armelle Habib

I first tasted saffron in Spain. It is used extensively in Spanish cooking, particularly for paella. As I was an official guest in the country, a guide took me to places of interest. In one picturesque village I found saffron threads — stigmas of the crocus flower — and because they seemed so inexpensive I bought them everywhere we stopped, enough to last for years. My guide gently informed me later that I had bought enough for a whole village’s supply for one year. It wasn’t said in criticism but I felt embarrassed and could hardly believe my greed. However, when I returned home I did share the saffron and didn’t waste a bit of it.

This is a fresh look at an old favourite; tomato soup takes on a special flavour with this infusion of saffron and vermouth. The soup can be made well ahead and reheated at the last moment, with the fresh tomato, saffron and vermouth added at the end.


Quantity Ingredient
8 ripe vine-ripened tomatoes
a good pinch saffron threads
1/4 cup dry vermouth
30g butter
1 medium onion, sliced
4 cups Chicken stock
or 4 cups Vegetable stock
1 small bay leaf
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons cornflour
1 tablespoon cold water
2 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
a little olive oil


  1. Quarter 4 of the tomatoes and roughly chop them. Peel, seed and dice the remaining tomatoes (see Tip) and set aside. Combine the saffron and vermouth and set aside. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat, add the onion, cover, and cook for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the roughly chopped tomatoes, stock, bay leaf, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until boiling, then simmer for 20–30 minutes.
  2. Pass the soup through a sieve, pour it back into the saucepan and reheat. Add the cornflour blended with the tablespoon of water to the soup and stir until slightly thickened.
  3. To finish, stir in the saffron and vermouth with the diced tomatoes and heat gently. Ladle the soup into heated bowls. Garnish with parsley and a swirl of olive oil.


  • To peel and seed the tomatoes, place them in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Count to eight for ripe tomatoes, 10 or more if less ripe. Transfer to a bowl of iced water. Make a cross in the skin at the base and carefully peel off the skin. Halve the tomatoes and flick out the seeds.
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