If you are using whole canned tomatoes, roughly crush them. And if using fresh tomatoes, give them a coarse chop. In a small bowl, mix all the salt and 1/2spices (not the ginger and garlic).
Over medium heat In a large saucepan, add the ghee or oil. When the pan is hot, stir in the ginger and garlic. Sauté for a minute or two until it is aromatic and smells cooked. Add the spices, stirring continuously for 1 to 2 minutes, or until they fragrant and toasted. Be careful not to burn them.
Stir in the tomatoes and turn the heat to medium-high. When the soup begins to bubble, turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes to allow the spices to mellow. Add sugar to your taste, yogurt or cream, and butter if you are using it.
Remove the soup from the heat and purée it. If using an immersion blender, blend immediately. If using a blender, allow the mixture to cool for 5 minutes and mix carefully. Only fill the blender half full. If you need tips for using the blender for hot foods, see the Notes below. Return the soup to your saucepan and reheat the soup over medium heat.
Taste for seasonings: salt, garam masala, pepper, chili powder, and a pinch more sugar, if needed. If you like your soup thinner, add more broth or water. If you would like it thicker, cook it over medium heat and check in 5-minute increments, or see Notes below for other ways to thicken it.
To serve: garnish with all, some, or none of the suggested garnishes above and enjoy this delicious soup with a grilled cheese sandwich, pappadam, and/or a salad.
Tomato choices and equivalents for spiced tomato soup:
Canned whole or crushed tomatoes: 3 1/2 cups
Fresh tomatoes: (cherry, grape, or plum tomatoes if out-of-season): 6 medium tomatoes, 4 large tomatoes, or 2 pounds of cherry or plum tomatoes
Dairy options: Some diary is a nice addition at the end to add richness and mellow out the acid from the tomatoes. Use 2 to 4 tablespoons or more, to your taste. Avoid milk as tends to curdle when added to acidic tomatoes. If you wanting a lower fat option consider low-fat yogurt or coconut milk. Use a plant-based yogurt if vegan.
If you don’t have brown sugar, make your own with granulated sugar and molasses. Add 1/2 teaspoon of molasses to 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar. Don't worry if they don't blend together perfectly. They will melt into the soup.
Blending hot food: Remember only to fill the blender halfway. Open the vent in your blender lid, cover with a towel and start blending at low speed, gradually increasing to high.