Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Homegrown Tomato Soup

Do you love tomato soup, but hate all of the mystery ingredients found in the store bought variety? Read on, my friend. 

Living on a farm gives me access to the freshest fruits and veg available.

One of my favorite things to grow are tomatoes. Second only to strawberries. We'll talk berries another day.

I am responsible for choosing and planting the tomatoes each year. This means getting out the seed catalog around January when cabin fever really starts to set in, and choosing the varieties for the coming spring.
This may, or may not surprise you, but I have no scientific method for choosing seeds. I look at the pictures, read the descriptions and then take a wild guess at which ones will be beautiful and successful. 
Sure, I have some stand-bys, but I like to mix it up. Big, small, heirloom, hybrid, red, pink, yellow, purple...endless options.
My helper and the 70 year old transplanter.
Well, maybe not endless, but more than 10,000 options which is pretty close to endless. 

Around the first week in April I start the seeds and all of their magic in a hot box and then, after sprouting, they scoot out to a homemade greenhouse. Last year that amounted to about 1,000 plants. 
Next step, keep them alive until it's time to plant them in the field in late May using a 1940s transplanter . I don't complain about this vintage machine because planting 1,000 plants by hand would take me and my crew all summer. (My crew consists of 2 boys, six and two, so they would probably be pulling the plants out faster than I could put them in. One of their many talents.)

Last year at this time we built a High Tunnel which is a low tech structure designed for season extension. 
A beautiful thing in short seasoned Ohio.
We were able to harvest tomatoes a month early and still had a few stragglers in November. 
We've now been Vortexed, so the plants are no more. 

I used those hangers on in today's Tomato Soup.
No homegrown toms on hand? 
No problem. 
Just use the ones you so diligently froze during the peak of the season. 
Didn't happen this year?
It's okay.
I planted 1,000 plants and all I could scrounge up in my freezer were two small bags leftover from last year.

Simple solution. Just buy the best canned, whole tomatoes you can get. 
It will be fine. I promise.

But please don't buy grocery store tomatoes in November. Grocery store tomatoes are sketchy and shady and gross.

Tomato Soup
Serves 6-8

8.5 lbs. fresh or frozen tomatoes-about 20 medium, quartered
2 large onions, rough chopped
2 small peppers, mild, rough chopped
5 stalks celery, rough chopped
1 cup fresh parsley
3 cloves, optional
1/4 cup butter
1 cup flour, sifted
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt, more to taste

  1. Combine tomatoes, onions, peppers, celery, parsley and cloves in a large pot over medium heat. 
  2. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Carefully strain the soup into another large pot using a mesh strainer. Discard the cooked vegetables.
  4. Reheat the tomato liquid over medium heat.
  5. Add the butter.
  6. Sift in flour, sugar and salt.
  7. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer, stirring often.
  8. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Dairy Allergy? Yep. A non dairy butter(I use Earth Balance) can be substituted for the butter in this recipe.
Use the spent vegetables in this recipe as chicken food or add to the compost pile.

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