Zanzibar Tomato Soup

I have lost the count of how many tomato soups I have eaten during my travels in Africa (Eastern-Africa). The absolute worst was on the train from Nairobi to Mombasa (the train only broke down three times which I think was a new record and it took 14 hours from start to finish). The soup was thin as water with a hint of red colour. The very best I had was in a small restaurant in Nairobi which I can't recall the name of unfortunately. Tomato soups are often served in hotels and restaurants and this recipe is actually from a book called Swahili Kitchen which my husband brought back for me after hiking Mt. Kenya in 2006. I added garlic and potatoes and it turned out absolutely lovely. I would not omit grilling the tomatoes in the oven since they become caramelised and so lovely and sweet. The soup is packed with vitamins such as vitamin C and is also full of antioxidants from the tomatoes. The soup is perfect if you are lactose and/or gluten intolerant.

Note that you will need an ovenproof baking dish for this recipe (or a baking tray). You will also need a food processor or a blender/hand blender.

A lovely tomato soup which always reminds me of Africa

This recipe is:

  • Egg free
  • Gluten free
  • Lactose (dairy) free
  • Nut free
  • Vegan

Zanzibar Tomato Soup

Serves 2-3


  • 300 millilitres (10 fluid oz) boiling hot water to soak the tomatoes in
  • 500 grams (17½ oz) tomatoes (preferably on the vine), peeled and cut into wedges
  • 4 onions, cut into wedges
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 160 grams (5½ oz) potatoes, chopped coarsely
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 500 millilitres (17 fluid oz) water for the soup
  • 1 yeast free vegetable stock cube
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • Pinch of salt (Himalaya or sea salt)
  • Pinch of pepper (black)


  1. Boil around 300 millilitres water.
  2. Place 500 grams tomatoes in a bowl, pour the boiling hot water over them and allow to stand for 2 minutes.
  3. Drain the tomatoes and once sufficiently cool peel them with a small knife. The skin should come off fairly easily.
  4. Cut the tomatoes in wedges and place in an ovenproof baking dish.
  5. Peel 2 onions and cut in wedges. Place in the ovenproof baking dish.
  6. Turn the oven to 220 degrees Celsius/400 degrees Fahrenheit/Gas Mark 6. Place the baking dish on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 40–50 minutes.
  7. The onions and tomatoes might burn a little (and some parts will turn black) but that is perfectly normal.
  8. Peel and chop the other 2 onions and the 4 garlic cloves.
  9. Peel the 160 grams potatoes and chop coarsely.
  10. Heat the 1 tablespoon coconut oil in the saucepan.
  11. Heat the chopped onions and garlic for 5 minutes or until soft. Add a couple of tablespoons water if needed.
  12. Add chopped potatoes to the saucepan along with 500 millilitres water, 2 vegetable stock cubes and 2 tablespoons tomato puree.
  13. Turn the heat up and let simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes become tender.
  14. Let cool for 15 minutes.
  15. Pour the soup in batches into a food processor or a blender. Process each batch for 15-20 seconds for a smooth texture.
  16. Now turn off the oven, take out the ovenproof baking dish and let the vegetables cool for 15 minutes.
  17. Place the baked onions and tomatoes in the food processor (be extremely careful, the juices might still be piping hot). Blend for 10-20 seconds. Transfer back to the saucepan.
  18. Add a pinch of salt and pepper as well as the 1 teaspoon basil.
  19. Turn the heat up and let simmer for 5 minutes.


  • The soup is an excellent base for all kinds of vegetables. You can add leeks, carrots, mushrooms, sweetcorn and more to the soup.
  • We always serve hard boiled free range eggs with the soup. We only eat the egg whites though. Hard boiled eggs compliment the tomato soup perfectly for some reason!
  • Serve with chapati bread.
  • The soup is even better the next day once the flavours have really settled. Pour the soup into plastic containers and re-heat the next day.
  • For a thinner soup add more water.
  • If the coconut oil is cold (in which case it becomes solid), place the jar in a bowl filled with hot water for a couple of minutes.       
  • You can use regular stock cubes instead of yeast free ones.
  • You can use chicken stock instead of vegetable stock.   
  • The soup can be frozen and reheated later.