i love growing Tomatoes and contrary to the rule of thumb that you only need one plant per person in the household, I like to have many more. First of all, I like variety and second of all, not all plants will produce as they should. This year I planted 6 Tomato Plants and have two left over from last year. Unfortunately, the ones from last year are not producing too well. Probably because they are not in full sun – we only have so much garden space that will get sun.
Even though my larger Beefsteak type Tomatoes produce more and larger fruit, my favorites this year are the Green Zebra and the Lucky Tiger. I don’t think my Lucky Tigers are growing to the size that they should but they are fun – they are shaped like the Romas, but thinner and are green with orange/red stripes that are supposed to be dark purple according to the tag that was on the plant when I bought it. In spite of that, I still love the tomatoes. They are fun to grow and delicious to eat. They have a slightly tangy taste to them in contrast to the red tomatoes which are very sweet.
All this being said, what do you do with Tomatoes when you have an abundance of them? You can only make some many salads and eat so much salsa. In past years I have made Chili Sauce and will probably do that again this year if the plants keep producing like they have. For this batch though, I decided to make a Tomato Basil Soup. This is a tasty soup that can be eaten hot, warm or cold so it is perfect for summer or any time of year. The recipe actually calls for Roma Tomatoes, but not having Roma Tomatoes, I just used what I have growing and that is mostly red round tomatoes. Even though I put the tags that came with the plants in front of the plants, they somehow get lost or covered up so except for a couple of the plants, I’m not really sure what kind they are. Just round, red, sweet and delicious!
The Soup can be served as a first course or as a Vegetable Dish along with a meal – that is what I did last night. We had Meat Loaf, Baked Potatoes and the Tomato Basil Soup which I actually served first, but we had seconds along with the meal. I serve this soup in small bowls but it can be served in larger ones. Another way I like to serve it is in demitasse as a ‘stand-up appetizer’ for company meals.
The recipe calls for 2 lbs. of Tomatoes, 1/2 cup of diced Onion, Chicken Stock (I had Beet Water leftover from cooking Beets so I used that instead thereby making the soup good for the Vegan or Vegetarian Crowd. Of course you also need Basil which I also have growing in the yard. I used the Italian Sweet Basil for the Soup and Purple Basil for the Garnish along with the Lucky Tiger Tomatoes.
After the Tomatoes are washed and cored, chop, quarter or dice them. (It doesn’t really matter too much as they are going to be pureed after cooking)
Saute the diced Onions in 2 Tbsps. of Olive Oil until they are soft – from the photo below, you will notice that mine are slightly caramelized. This add additional flavor as long as you don’t let them burn. If they do burn, discard and start over – the burn taste will ruin the soup.
Once the Onions are sufficiently cooked, add the prepared Tomatoes and Basil and cook until the Tomatoes release their water. Mix as they cook. When the tomatoes are sufficiently cooked, transfer to a food processor fitted with the metal blade. If you don’t have a food processor, use a blender or a food mill.
Run the processor or blender until the Tomatoes are completely pureed and then return to the pot. Add the remaining seasonings -taste and add additional salt or Vinegar, if so desired.
Serve Hot with tiny Meatballs or at Room Temperature or Cold as an Appetizer. Garnish with additional Basil and diced Tomatoes, if desired. I used the Purple Basil and Lucky Tiger Tomatoes which only need to be sliced vertically down the middle. For additional zest add a splash of your favorite style ‘Old Boney Mountain Hot Sauce’.
Almost everyone loves Asparagus – at least I think so! But the tip and upper half of the stalk is the most tender and flavorful parts, so we tend to cut off the bottoms. What a shame if those bottoms are thrown out. There is still flavor and nutrition in the lower half of the Asparagus even though it may be a little tougher on the bottom. There are things you can do with those tough bottoms that will render them palatable and quite delicious! Here Goes!!!
- Cut off 1 inch from the bottoms of each stem (stalk)
- Wash the remaining stems and then cut into 1inch pieces.
- Place in a saucepan or pot that will allow you to cover the pieces with at least 2 inches of liquid.
- Add a chopped Onion or Shallots.
- Add Chicken Stock, Vegetable Bouillon or Water to cover. (In the photo below, there are Carrots and Green Onions along with the Asparagus. The Chicken Stock is frozen and will defrost as the heat melts it. – you can add whatever other Vegetables you may have on hand)
- Bring to a boil and then simmer until the pieces are fork tender.
- Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Place the Asparagus pieces along with some of the liquid into your food processor or blender and run until smooth. This may also be done with an immersion blender.
- For a perfectly smooth puree pass the mixture through a strainer; for a little texture leave as is.
The resulting puree above may be used for Soup, Pasta or Pasta Sauce. To make Cream of Asparagus Soup follow the instructions below.
2 cups Vegetable Puree 1 cup Heavy Cream or Milk
3 Shallots or 1 small Onion, chopped
4 oz. Mushrooms (optional)
¼ cup unsalted Butter
4 Tbsps. Flour
1 tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground Pepper
- Melt 4 Tbsps. of Butter; add half cup of chopped Onion or Shallots and sauté until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the 4 Tbsps. Flour until it is well combined with the Butter and Onions.
- Add the Asparagus Puree and stir well. Add enough Cream or Milk to make the desired consistency.
- Add 1 tsp. Salt and 1/4 tsp. White Pepper; taste and adjust seasonings.
Yield: Approx. 4 Servings