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Railway Style Indian Tomato Soup | Spicy Tomato Soup

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This spicy tomato soup comes from a recipe my mother learned from a real railway chef, a personal friend of the family. This isn’t just any tomato soup; it’s a vibrant, flavorful, and hearty dish that reflects the unique blend of British influence and Indian culinary traditions. 

Railway tomato soup

About this Recipe

Railway travel is an iconic part of India. The food is an important part of the experience of riding the rails around India, and this one well-known dish. My mother learned this recipe many years ago, and I am pleased to see it is still featured on the menu Rajdhani menu today. It is a heartwarming classic soup, perfect for a cold winter day, or any time you are looking for some warm, southing nourishment.

Steaming spicy tomato soup.

While traditionally cooked in pressure cookers on the bouncing carriages of trains, this recipe adapts beautifully to modern kitchens with the use of an Instant Pot. It can also be cooked simply on the stovetop, if you have the time.


Ingredients for spicy tomato soup
Ingredients: tomatoes, beet, onion, garam masala, Kashmiri chili powder, cayenne, garlic, ginger, salt, black pepper, vegetable stock, ghee or oil, cream or cashews, and basil.
  • Tomatoes: The star of the show, tomatoes bring a tangy, vibrant base to the soup. Roma tomatoes, known for their thicker flesh and fewer seeds, are ideal for a thicker, more sauce-like consistency.
  • Beet: the beet not only adds a subtle earthiness and sweetness but also imparts a stunning, deep red hue, enhancing the visual appeal of the soup.
  • Onion: The humble onion provides a natural sweetness that balances the tanginess of the tomatoes.
  • Garam Masala: A quintessential blend of spices in Indian cooking, garam masala adds warmth and depth, introducing a spectrum of flavors from various spices like cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom.
  • Kashmiri Chili Powder: Known for its vibrant color and mild heat, Kashmiri chili powder lends a gentle warmth to the soup without overpowering it.
  • Cayenne: For those who favor a spicier kick, cayenne pepper can be added. It’s optional, so adjust according to your heat preference.
  • Garlic and Ginger: This dynamic duo adds a pungent and spicy undertone, enhancing the soup’s complexity.
  • Salt and Black Pepper: Essential seasonings that should be adjusted to taste. They bring out the flavors of the other ingredients.
  • Vegetable Stock: The stock forms the liquid base of the soup, contributing to its rich flavor profile. A quality vegetable stock adds depth without overpowering the other ingredients.
  • Ghee or Oil: Ghee, with its nutty flavor, is a traditional choice, adding a hint of richness. Oil can be used as a vegan alternative.
  • Cream or Soaked Cashews: This is for creaminess. Cream offers a rich, smooth finish, while soaked and blended cashews provide a wonderful vegan alternative without compromising on the velvety texture.
  • Basil (for garnish): A sprinkle of fresh basil not only adds a pop of color but also introduces a fresh, aromatic element to the final dish.
  • Toast: The perfect accompaniment, toast adds a contrasting crunch to the soup, making each bite a delightful blend of textures.
Side view of bowl of tomato soup with a piece of toast and basil


  • Leave out the cream and use a ghee vaghar – 1 tsp cream + 1 tsp cumin. Head ghee to hot, add cumin seeds to sputter. Then pour over the soup.
  • Additionally, add curry leaves to the cumin vaghar. Let them sputter a little bit to develop flavor, giving a stronger Indian flavor.
  • Leave out the sugar. The sugar helps balance the acidity of the tomatoes but can be omitted. Or use honey or maple syrup in place of sugar.
Top view of tomato soup with cream swirl.

If you enjoyed this recipe, check out other tomato-based recipes like tomato chutney and tomato curry. Or for other soups, try Osaman, a classic Indian dal broth soup.

Railway tomato soup

Railway Style Indian Tomato Soup | Spicy Tomato Soup

This Railway Style Tomato Soup is a heartwarming blend of rich tomatoes and earthy beets, seasoned with traditional Indian spices. The soup's vibrant flavor is enhanced with a touch of cream or cashew cream, making it a perfect comfort dish for any day. Garnish with basil and serve with toast for a complete experience of this classic, nostalgic Indian delicacy.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 150 kcal



  • 1 ½ pounds Roma tomatoes saucy variety
  • 1 beet peeled and cut into 1/4” pieces
  • 1 medium onion cut
  • 3 cloves garlic sliced roughly
  • 1 ” piece of ginger cut into small pieces
  • 1 Tbsp ghee or oil
  • ¾ cup water
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp Kashmiri chili powder
  • ¼ tsp cayenne optional
  • Salt to taste
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup cream or 2 Tbsp soaked and blended cashews
  • Basil for garnish
  • Toast for serving


  • Prepare the Tomatoes and Beet: Cut an X into the stem side of each Roma tomato. Peel and cut the beet into 1/4″ pieces.
  • Saute the Aromatics: Set the Instant Pot to sauté mode and heat the ghee or oil. Add the chopped onion and sauté until softened. Then add the sliced garlic and ginger, cooking for an additional minute.
    Saute the aromatics.
  • Cook the Vegetables: Add the whole tomatoes (scored with an X) and chopped beets to the pot, along with 3/4 cup of water. Secure the lid on the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 18 minutes. After cooking, use the quick release method to release the pressure.
    Add the tomatoes
  • Blend the Soup: Carefully remove the tomatoes with tongs. Peel off the skins and return the peeled tomatoes to the Instant Pot. Use an immersion blender to puree the contents until smooth. Alternatively, you can transfer the contents to a blender and then return the pureed mixture to the pot.
  • Add Stock and Spices: Pour in the vegetable stock. Set the Instant Pot to sauté mode again. Stir in the garam masala, Kashmiri chili powder, cayenne (if using), salt, and black pepper. Let the soup simmer for 15 minutes.
    Add vegetable stock and spices.
  • Final Touches: Stir in the cream or blended cashews. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
    Finish with cream.
  • Serve: Garnish with basil and serve with toast on the side.
    Railway tomato soup


Calories: 150kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 3gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 742mgPotassium: 548mgFiber: 3gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 2145IUVitamin C: 27mgCalcium: 43mgIron: 1mg
Keyword soup, tomato soup
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