This morning I plucked a few early canning tomatoes from the garden. Straddling feral watermelon vines that went berserk while we were at fair last week, I found the first ripe torpedoes of the year tucked down deep beneath the six-foot canopies these parent plants […]
You wouldn’t know it from the howling wind outside my office window, but as I type this spring is on its way into Michigan. The grass is greening, the winter wheat is growing, there’s a small lake at the bottom of the hill where a lane normally stands. For the past few weeks I’ve been telling The Man about the ever-expanding list of things we needed to get done “before the rains” came, and this week the rains showed up with only about 1/10th of that list having been completed. Now we’ll probably wait no less than a month for things to dry out again before we can proceed. It’s always the way. (more…)
According to my editorial calendar I had intended to share a Cranberry Scone recipe with you today, and if we’re judging by the unused carton of cranberries in my fridge, that sounds about right. Unfortunately, intentions are not nickels. Because if I had a nickel […]
I have an unhealthy love of Panera Bread’s Garden Vegetable Pesto Soup. If it weren’t so expensive (and located almost an hour from home) I’d probably eat it every day. At least every other. And since I’m such a fan I can tell you that while this soup recipe came about as a result of a craving for that soup, it’s nothing much like it. It’s spicier and heartier and contains absolutely no pesto whatsoever. Or barley. Or yellow wax beans. But it’s delicious and it doesn’t cost eight dollars a bowl — in fact, if you grow your own garden it’s practically free — and it’s probably healthier, too.
And isn’t that enough for anyone? Really? It’s enough for me.
Oh, and it can be made in your crockpot. So there’s that.
In fact, while I’m going to give you a non-recipe recipe for it, you can make it with just about anything. Whatever’s ripe near you right now? Put it in there. I mean not pineapples, obviously. But if you have different beans? Or peppers? You should include those, because this is soup and soup has always been about experimentation. At least that’s what I tell myself.
Just don’t skip the onions. No meal is complete without them. I truly believe that.
And that pretty much goes for the garlic and tomatoes, too. Some things are integral.
You can even use your tiny tomatoes, the grape and cherry types. These Gold Nugget tomatoes are volunteers. They’re all from one sprawling plant that decided to spring up from seeds that must’ve been dropped in the garden last year. They’re sinfully scrumptious and perfect for soup.
Also perfect for soup: overgrown Summer Squash. You know the type; one day they’re just not quite ready and the next they’re the size of baseball bats. I like them for soup because they hold their shape and texture better than their perfectly-ripe counterparts.
Just slice them in big patties like so, remove their hard outer shell with a knife and cube up the flesh. You can feed the shell and the spongy seeded parts to your pigs. Unless you don’t have any; in which case you’re on your own. I’m kidding, you could compost them. That seems like a good idea.
But first? Let’s make soup.
Core and halve your tomatoes and arrange them on a large baking sheet. Do the same with your onions and peppers. You might need two baking sheets if you get overly zealous. I did. Peel a few cloves of garlic and put those on the baking sheets while you’re at it.
Slip it all into a 350 degree oven to roast. You want them all browned and pucker-y like so.
While you’re waiting you can wash, trim and cut up a couple hefty handfuls of green beans and cube your summer squash, adding both to your crock pot with a quart of chicken stock. Set that handy dandy counter-top contraption to high to get the beans, squash and stock simmering.
When your tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic are roasted run them through a food processor or blender to make a slightly chunky paste. If you’re worried about seeds you could always put it all through a food mill instead, but I don’t mind them.
Add the paste to your crock pot, sprinkle in a little of your favorite salt (I like black truffle sea salt), a dash of red pepper flakes, a few black peppercorns and a bay leaf. Simmer on low until dinner. Enjoy!
:: :: ::
Zesty Summer Soup
8 Medium Tomatoes, cored and halved
5 Small Yellow Onions, peeled and halved
3 Cloves Garlic, peeled
3-6 Mild Peppers, cored (I used Hungarian Banana and Green Bell)
1/2 Overgrown Summer Squash
2 Big Handfuls Green Beans
1 Quart Chicken Stock
1/4 tsp Black Truffle Sea Salt
1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1/8 tsp Black Peppercorns
1 Bay Leaf
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Arrange tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic on baking sheet(s) and roast until browned and skins pucker. Meanwhile prepare green beans — washing, trimming and cutting into bite-sized lengths — and cube summer squash. Add both beans and cubed squash to crock pot with chicken stock. Set to high. Puree roasted tomatoes, onions, peppers and garlic in food processor or blender. Mix puree into chicken stock and add remaining ingredients, stirring well. Simmer in crock pot for 1-4 hours.