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Turkey Tracks: Cream of Tomato Soup

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Turkey Tracks:  September 29, 2010

Cream of Tomato Soup

Late blight hit our tomatoes over the weekend.  I went out Sunday to harvest and realized that the long row of plants were all infected.  If you didn’t know, last year infected  tomato plants from nurseries grown down south and shipped north–mostly by the big box stores like Home Depot and Wal-Mart–wiped out the tomato harvest in New England.  Maine was no exception.  And, late blight also infects potatoes.  The spores from infected plants travel on air currents for as long a distance as forty miles. 

Given the fact that it rained here every day last summer for all of June, July, and the first of August last summer, my tomato plants did not grow and did get the blight.  I was able to harvest my potatoes, but the plants did have signs of the disease.  I carefully bagged all the plants and hoped for the best for this year.  We did not have a really cold winter, so I crossed my fingers.  Mostly, I think I got away with it as we’ve had a bumper crop of tomatoes before last Sunday–though many on the plants were still really green.  I think I need a small hoop house for the tomatoes.  I saw this one at the Common Ground Fair this year.  It’s called a giraffe hoop house, and it does not take up much space:

 

My potato plants seemed ok, though the harvest was light.  It’s been dry here this summer, and I was afraid to water too much as our well might go dry.  The tomatoes, as I’ve written, have been glorious!  I cannot complain.  But, I’ve spent a lot of time putting up sauce, and now I’m out of freezer space–especially since we just got our annual lamb for the freezer.  Thus, I started looking at other ways to use tomatoes.  And, voila!  I fell upon cream of tomato soup.  It’s dead easy and amazingly delicious!  I’ve combined recipes from several sources, so basically, I think it’s just mine.

Cream of Tomato Soup

Three or four pounds of ripe tomatoes–skinned, which is basically simple.  Just dip them in boiling water for 30 seconds or so, transfer them to cold water.  Use some ice if you have extra.  Take out the core with a small, sharp paring knife, slip off the skin, and drop the tomato into your pot.

Add 5 to 6 tablespoons of organic butter and some salt

Heat the whole mass, covered, until the tomatoes break down.  Cook, covered, for at least an hour.  Two is better.  There should be lots of liquid, but keep an eye on the pot so the liquid does not cook off.

Next, you have a choice.  I mix it up with a hand blender, which is an essential tool in my kitchen.  You could also put the hot soup into a blender and risk burning yourself.  You could mix it with a hand mixer.  You could strain it.  With the hand blender, I’m not straining out the seeds, but I don’t seem to notice them after I’ve used it. 

Next, you had heavy cream to the hot soup.  I am lucky to have local, organic raw cream.  Adding more dilutes the tomato taste, but makes the soup creamy.  Find the balance you like, season with additional salt if you like.

Eat and enjoy.  It’s beyond delicious if you’ve got good tomatoes! 

***

When we were done ripping out and bagging diseased plants on Sunday, we had two big boxes full of green tomatoes and beginning to ripen tomatoes.  We threw out the tomatoes that obviously were going to get late blight spots while ripening.   (Yukko!)  We wrapped the big Brandywines in newspaper and put them into a dark, cool closet.  We put the tomatoes that were tinged with color in the kitchen windows.  And, I cut up the green, hard paste tomatoes and put them into the dehydrator.  We’re going to have “dried green tomatoes” AND “fried green tomatoes.”  I plan to try adding them to soups and stews.  And, I’m going to try to reconstitute them and roast them with winter vegetables.  They should add a nice zing.

Roasting Green Tomatoes

One of my favorite food combos and recipes  in the fall is roasting green tomatoes cut into chunks, with dense sweet squash (like a buttercup) or sweet potatoes, with newly harvested small potatoes (like red or gold)   small, whole onions.   I toss them with olive oil, salt, and generous amounts of rosemary and/or thyme.  I’m pretty sure this combo comes from Anna Thomas’s THE VEGETARIAN EPICURE.  It doesn’t hurt to parboil the potatoes.  Roasting at 350 for about 45 minutes is about right.

Try it!  You’ll like it.     

I still have a pile of ripening tomatoes on the counter to process.  And, all the tomatoes in the kitchen windows, assuming they ripen without being ruined by late blight spots.  So, I’m not done with tomatoes yet. 

FEDCO sent our fall garlic yesterday–the planting of which is the last task in the garden.  Though the cold frame is loaded with seedlings just emerging.  And, oh yes, I have to clean this year’s garlic which is presently drying in the top of the garage.