Garden-fresh tomato soup

With a bumper crop this fall from my tiny COVID garden of five tomato plants, I needed to find some tasty ways to put tomatoes to good use. I love soup, so I decided to make some.

My highest yielding plants were for heritage tomatoes. They were slower to ripen, so I took a whole lot of green tomatoes off them in October. I was surprised to see that by November they had all ripened to a lovely bright yellow, not a red one among them.

The flavor is similar to what I remember tomato soup as tasting, but decidedly different. However, the taste is fresh, tangy, and satisfying. Use whatever fresh tomatoes you have at your disposal. The flavorings in the last step of this recipe can be added in either as little or as much as you might like. Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Fresh tomato soup
Makes about 8 cups

  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, coursely chopped
  • 1 large onion, coursely chopped
  • 6 cups fresh tomatoes, coursely chopped
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Flavorings (Optional)

  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • a few shakes cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon homemade liquid stevia, coconut palm sugar, or white sugar
  1. In a stockpot, over medium heat, saute the garlic with chopped onion until limp, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the coursely chopped tomatoes, with skin and seeds, and bring to a sizzle. Allow them to cook until the tomatoes soften.
  3. Add chicken broth and cloves. Bring to a boil, and gently boil for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and puree with an immersion hand-held blender. Strain into a bowl, using a large sieve. Use a spoon to force as much pulp through the strainer as you can. Discard the cloves and fiber left in the strainer.
  4. In the now empty stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour to make a paste, cooking until the roux is a medium brown, at least 5 minutes.
  5. Gradually whisk in a bit of the tomato puree, so that no lumps form, then stir in the rest.
  6. Season with vinegar, sugar, cayenne, and salt, and adjust to taste. Instead of salt and cayenne, I added a teaspoon of TexMex seasoning, which is basically salt and cayenne… Next time, I’ll try it without the vinegar. I found it a touch on the sour side. See what you think before going ahead with the vinegar. I did love the basil, though. And I enjoyed the nip from the TexMex.
  7. Serve very hot with some cream on the side for people to add if they choose. The nutrition count below is for the soup without any cream.

Nutrition

Studies show that tomatoes and tomato products may reduce your risk of heart disease and several cancers. This fruit is also beneficial for skin health, as it may protect against sunburns. These effects are likely due to high concentrations of antioxidants, especially lycopene and beta carotene. But tomatoes also contain several useful vitamins and minerals, namely vitamin A, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C.

A one-cup serving of this soup provides 100 calories; 4 grams protein, 7% RDV (recommended daily value); 4 grams carbohydrates, 1% RDV (just 1 gram sugar); 3 grams fat, 5% RDV; 81 mg sodium, 3% RDV; vitamin A 9% RDV; Ca 7% RDV.

As an aside: No pain, no gain

Just thought I’d point out that it may be easier to open a can of soup. But for pure personal satisfation, nothing beats growing your own food and making your own soup. For me, the only down side is the washing up!

But I’ve learned to enjoy the feel of warm water on my hands and the pleasure of seeing tidy work surfaces. I use the wait times between steps in the cooking process to wash utensils used to that point. There is far less to contend with at the end.

Now, I just have to put all these dishes away, and my kitchen will be spick and span again. Whistle while you work!

Spiced ginger and green tomato coffee cake

A tasty coffee cake that needs no extra sweetness can be had by making up this moist snacking cake. A wonderful treat if you have some green tomatoes on hand, a strong possibility if you were growing tomatoes at home this year, like Vinny was. It calls for 200 grams of green tomatoes, which is about two medium-sized ones.

Ginger is the healthiest spice in your pantry. It is one food that earns its reputation as a “super food” whole-heartedly, as has been proven by science. This recipe uses lots of ginger.

A Bundt cake studded with green tomato pieces and candied ginger, then spiced with masala tadka powder, is perfect with a cup of coffee or tea, or even with a glass of milk.

Spiced green tomato and candied ginger coffee cake
Makes 12 modest slices

  • 1 cup green tomatoes, chopped (200 grams, about 2 medium)
  • 1/4 cup (40 grams) candied ginger, chopped finely
  • 60 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 60 grams (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • 60 grams (1/2 cup) coconut palm sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150 grams (1 1/2 cups) whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 1 teaspoon masala chai powder or tadka masala spice*
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C)
  2. Prepare a small Bundt pan (6 cups or 7.5 x 3 inches) by lightly coating the sides, bottom and center spindle with canola oil or other flavorless oil. Sprinkled some flour liberally around the sides and turn upside down over the sink to tap off any excess. Make sure the spindle is coated with flour too.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars with an electric mixer for a couple of minutes. Keep your fingers away from the beaters while they are beating, or else you might catch your fingers in the blades and faint! Vinny knows this from personal experience. No bones were broken, though…
  4. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat well.
  5. In a smaller bowl mix the chopped tomatoes and chopped ginger together well. Add the 1/2 cup (50 grams) of the flour and toss with a wooden spoon, till the flour has coated the veggie pieces.
  6. Sift 1 cup (100 grams) of the flour together with the baking soda, baking powder, and masala powder in another smaller bowl. Add this to the butter mixture in the large bowl in three parts and beat on medium speed after each addition till well mixed.
  7. Add the green tomato mixture to the batter in the large bowl and fold in till well mixed using a wooden spoon. The mixture will be thick.
  8. Scrape this mixture into the prepared Bundt pan and smooth the top.
  9. Turn the oven setting to Bake and cook the cake for 45 to 50 minutes till a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  10. Cool in the tin for about 10 minutes. Then unmold the cake onto a rack to cool.

To Serve

No need to use a sugar glaze. Leave it plain and enjoy the moist delicious flavor of this spicy cake.

Note

If you don’t have a prepared masala spice mix on hand, add these to the flour mixture: ½ teaspoon cardemom and 1/8 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, and coriander. If you like a highly spiced cake, you can double these quantities.

Nutrition

A serving size of one-twelfth of the cake has 150 calories and 10 grams of sugar. It provides 11% of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin A and 5% of each of protein, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.

Ginger is high in gingerol, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It is said to help prevent nausea, improve osteoarthritis, and promote weight loss, among other things.

Spices add way more than flavor to foods. I like to add them liberally every time I cook.

Halloween cooked-carrot and tomato salad

Halloween doesn’t have to be all about candy. Having gained a very bad 15 pounds between March and August in this year of the coronovirus, and now being well on the way to shedding it all again, I wanted to celebrate a sugar-free evening with the ghosts and goblins.

The powers that be have decreed that it’s not safe for children to go door to door this year… and rightly so, with numbers of covid-19 cases soaring in a second scary wave. So we have not bought the usual crazy amount of mini chocolate bars this year.

Instead of candy, I nominate the color orange to be our celebration vehicle for Halloween in our house.

Pumpkins are a bit cliche… so I chose to make a delicious dinner-time dish from the gorgeous, sweet, orange carrots available in the market these days.

The recipe is modified from one I published earlier for a big crowd. The recipe here provides eight servings as a veggie side dish for dinner. It has enough tangy sweetness to make you forget that there is no candy for you to gorge on, after all the little ones stop knocking on your door on October 31st. Happy Halloween!

Halloween cooked-carrot and tomato salad
Makes eight 4-ounce servings

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
  • 0.5 – 1 inch fresh ginger, skin scraped and finely chopped (I like lots)
  • 5 ounces tomato sauce (I used roasted red pepper pasta sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seed oil (optional)
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (preferably apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 8-16 ounces tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large green onion, sliced, or a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped, for garnish (optional)
  1. Slice carrots into coins, then cook in slightly salted boiling water until tender yet crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain, then submerge in cold water to cool.
  2. Combine tomato sauce, oil, vinegar, ginger, and curry powder in a small sauce pan and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes to the carrots and the cooled tomato dressing (sweetened if you wish with 1 tablespoon of my homemade liquid stevia or 1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar). Mix well.
  4. Chill until serving time. Garnish with the chopped green onion or the chopped basil leaves. Stays fresh for 3 days in the fridge.

Nutrition summary

Total calories per 4-ounce serving is 234. If you go easy on the dressing that pools in the bottom of the bowl, the calories are reduced somewhat.

Carrots are a sweet veggie, containing a significant amount of sugar. So there is no need for additional sugar. But I did use a little stevia sweetener, to take the edge off the vinegar. You might not need any sweetener at all.

One serving contains 6 times the vitamin A and 33% of the fiber, vitamin C, and potassium you need every day. This salad is also a good source of iron, calcium, and even protein, providing about 10% of the recommended daily amounts.

If you are diabetic, know that one serving provides 11 grams of sugar, twice the suggested amount per dish.

This is a delicious tangy side dish that can serve as your starch portion, as well as your veggie, in one single serving. Trick or treat? I hope you find this recipe more on the treat side of the equation. Boo!

Copper penny cooked carrot salad

Carrots

Turn carrots into a delicious, make-ahead party salad.

Pot luck party time

“What are you bringing to the pot luck picnic tomorrow, Vinny?”

Vinny looked at his super slim and very athletic friend. “Think I’ll bring a crunchy curried cauliflower salad, Val. It’s easy. I took it to a party on the weekend and it was a hit. I just added curly lettuce leaves and my own cabbage slaw to Farm Boy’s offering and I was done.”

“Crunchy?” asked Val. “Does that mean uncooked?”

“Why, yes,” said Vinny.

“Guess I won’t be eating any, then.” Val smiled.

“Oops, I forgot! You can’t eat uncooked fiber! Sorry!” said Vinny.

“No problem,” said Val. “There will be plenty of other things there I can eat.”

But Vinny loves a challenge and began to think how he could turn his salad into something his friend Val could eat too. Easy, he thought. Cooked carrots. Just peel, slice, and add a  dressing. More

Dorothy’s amazing tomato salad

tomato

Vinny pays homage to the tomato

Vinny has been remiss! That means he’s made a big mistake, has been careless, or both. For although he has featured tomatoes in many posts, especially those where he is extolling the virtues of a bunch of super foods, he’s never devoted a post solely to these delicious vegetables… er, fruits, actually. More

A hogbake from Redwall Abbey… and a little kale magic

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Crispy egg ‘N onion hogbake

This recipe, inspired by the Redwall Cookbook for kids, has nothing to do with pigs. For the life of me, I can’t come up with a reason that explains why they named it a hogbake. Perhaps it’s a typo, and they meant to call it a henbake.

Regardless, I loved its simple healthy ingredients. More

Ten Best Foods for a long life

Eat more leaves and berries

Eat more leaves and berries… and onions. And tomatoes!

Eating for a long life

Put these 10 foods on your grocery list every week and you’ll up your chances of living a longer, healthier, happier life! So says Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D. More

Food heroes that fight cancer

5 foods tht fight cancer

Foods that are known cancer fighters

Berries, walnuts, garlic, tomatoes and tea. What do they have in common? They are all proven cancer fighters!

They work best as members of a team. For best health, join them up on your plate with other battle-scarred food heroes of the likes that are cited in this valuable article from the American Institute for Cancer Research.

More

We need our fabulous new GMOs

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“The war against genetically modified organisms is full of fear-mongering, errors, and fraud. Labeling GMOs will not make you safer.”

As an ex-food scientist, I’m convinced of the safety of GMO foods. You will be too, if you can wade through this excellent, but very long article. More

Antioxidants, nature’s anti-rust agents

A scoop o’ colorful puréed veggie soup helps the antioxidants go down.

Antioxidants unmasked

Among scientists she goes by the name of  antioxidant. But Vinny’s friends know her as Auntie Oxidant. By either name, she is a kid’s best friend. She is a powerful protector from degenerative disease. This fighter disarms invaders called free radicals, bent on destroying our cells. More

Behind Mr. Beans’ Back Door

The many faces of Mr. Beans

The many faces of Mr. Beans

“Beans, beans, the musical fruit
The more you eat, the more you toot
The more you toot, the better you feel
Beans, beans at every meal!”

The good news

I love you, Mr. Beans, especially on this blustery, cold March day. Your down-home taste spiked with bacon, tomato, and maple syrup fills me up nicely. And your hearty goodness gives me the energy I need to take me through the day… not to mention the awesome protein, fibre, iron and calcium you put into my tank while you’re at it. But why so much gas? That makes you just so unpleasant! More

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