Monday, September 29, 2014

The Tastiest Time of the Year

By Vicki Delany

It’s fall, and the eating is good.

Here in Southern Ontario, the growing season is short, with the result that we end up with a month jam-packed with fabulous foods.  And it’s a mad rush to get all that produce canned and frozen and made into other things (like jam) while it’s still fresh and good.

I live in farm country so I am particularly blessed.  When I first moved in there was a farm stand about 1 km down the road from my house. They closed, sadly, but it’s still not much further away to several more.  I put some pictures up a couple of weeks ago of my day at Vicki’s Veggies (definitely no relation) home of the world’s best tomatoes.  Here's the link if you missed it.

By late September the tables are groaning and the abundance overwhelming.  Remember that Canadian Thanksgiving is in early October, for just this reason. It’s a harvest festival, so we celebrate during the harvest.

In my small garden it’s a race against time that would out-thrill any book by Linwood Barclay.  Many of my heirloom tomatoes are big and fat but still green – will they be ready for picking before the first frost kills them all in one fell swoop?

Last year I went to the Outer Banks on a research trip for the Lighthouse Library series the first week of October.  They were promising no-frost nights, and when I got home – a garden of mush.

For those of you lucky enough to be overwhelmed with tomatoes and peppers at this time of year, here’s a soup recipe that I make in great quantities and freeze every year.

In the bleak-midwinter, the taste of fresh tomatoes comes across loud and clear and so very welcome. 

Vicki Delany’s Tomato and Pepper Soup
You can use as many tomatoes as you have, and adjust other ingredients accordingly. Don’t worry too much about being exact.
4 lbs ripe red tomatoes
3 sweet red peppers
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp hot red chilli pepper, chopped and seeded
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 ½ cups vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
Large handful of torn fresh basil leaves
Put large pot of water on to boil. When at a full boil add tomatoes and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from water and cool. Then peel and chop, discarding as many seeds as you can.
Grill sweet peppers under oven broiler for about 15 minutes, turning until charred on all sides. Cool and then peel and finely chop, again discarding as many seeds as you can
In saucepan heat 2 tbsp. oil; add sweet peppers, chilli peppers, salt.Cook about 5 minutes, stir in garlic, cook 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, vinegar, salt and basil. Cook 10 minutes, stir occasionally. Add stock and bring to boil. Simmer, uncovered for about 15 minutes.
Cool soup and puree in blender or food processor. If serving immediately reheat gently. Can add more basil for decoration.

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