Heirloom Tomato Soup



My wonderful father in-law, one of the two lovely in-laws who’ve inspired this blog, also inspired my garden this year. For Christmas, I was presented with the most thorough catalog of seeds I’ve seen in some time. With not enough space to go pumpkin crazy, I opted for rewarding tomatoes. Six varieties to be precise and would you think that would stop my seed gift? No way, he even planted, sprouted and babied these specimens until they were ready to head to earth.

With a late start to the summer and a bit of a back problem, these little babies soon grew into towering providers. Eight feet of unstretchable plant has blossomed into hoards of tomatoes that now, so close to the first of fall, have finally begun to ripen; all at once.

With the more than occasional rain and cooler nights, I’ve summoned my three year old farm hand, who has no trouble crouching, to help with the over abundant harvest.

The soup, I could handle. It was pretty simple and very delicious.

CREAMLESS CREAM OF TOMATO SOUP
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Small Onion, diced
3 Cloves Garlic, minced, about 1 1/2 teaspoons
2 Lbs Assorted Heirloom Tomatoes, I used Black From Tula, Snow White Cherry, Roma & Riesentraube, diced (or one large 300z can)
1 Bay Leaf
1 1/2 Cups Vegetable Broth
1 teaspoon Brown Sugar
1 Slice of Bread, crusts removed, torn
3/4 teaspoon Salt, more or less, to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, optional, to taste
Fresh Basil, chopped, optional for garnish

Heat the oil in a large pot.
Dice and add the onion, minced garlic and bay leaf.
Sauté over medium until the onions are soft and translucent but not browned.
Add diced tomatoes and cook for about 10 – 15 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened, released their juices and lost their skins.
Stir in the sugar, bread and broth, then bring the soup to a boil then reduce it to a simmer.
Once the bread is soft and begins to break down, remove the bay leaf.
Using a hand immersion blender, mix the soup until smooth.
In batches if necessary, pass the soup through a mesh strainer and return to a cleaned pot.
Reheat as necessary.
Add salt, and pepper if desired. Seasoning to taste.
Garnish with fresh basil.

Serves 4

Crispy, Roasted Kale


I’ve heard them called kale chips too. They can be roasted or dehydrated raw to get this crisp, practically preserved autumn leaf.

I grew a few plants in my new garden and now that the season is starting to chill, I couldn’t resist picking the biggest one. I know I was supposed to wait for the first frost, at the very least, but these were so worth the sacrifice. They literally only took minutes to prepare just to simply be left in a low oven.

Since NO ONE in my house would eat them but myself, I carefully dropped them into an oversized bag and brought them to my brother-in-laws birthday party last weekend. They were quickly identified and inhaled by the other guests, which certainly made up for my households curled noses.

Perfect as a snack but I could see these garnishing soup or even getting crushed and stirred into a fresh pot of mashed potatoes.


CRISP, ROASTED KALE CHIPS

1 Large Bunch Kale, stems removed
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Zest of ONE Lemon
Sea Salt

Pinch Sea SaltPreheat the oven to 250ºF.
To remove the stems of the kale, hold it up side down, stem side up with one hand and pinch the stem with your other thumb and forefinger to tear it up and away from the leaf.
Toss the leaves with the oil and lemon zest in a large bowl to coat evenly.
Lay the leaves out in a single layer on a baking sheet and lightly sprinkle with salt.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until crisp.
Cool on brown or  paper towel to remove any excess oil.

Maple Pumpkin Butter


I was a little hesitant on making this. I didn’t think I’d know what to do with it honestly. When one of my many pumpkins started going (and I’d found that I’d already made my repitoire of pumpkin goodies) I figured it was time.
Tasting along the way, this sugar-free variety kept it’s promises of tasting like the best of all pumpkin pies, but did I want that on my toast every morning? As delicious as it was, only days after making it, I’m finding that I didn’t make enough. A spoonful into pancake batter or with soy milk for french toast, pumpkin butter is perking up and making already great treats extraordinary.

MAPLE PUMPKIN BUTTER

2 Cups Pumpkin Purée
1 1/2 Cups Apple Juice
1/2 Cup Maple Syrup
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Freshly Ground Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger

Mix everything together in a food processor until well blended.
Add the mixture to a large saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Continue to cook on a low heat until the colour deepens and the purée reduces, about 1 hr.
Store in an air tight container or can to preserve, if desired.

Pumpkin Cranberry Scones



I’m sitting and eating and eating and thinking about what to write for a post.
These are good. Even on the second day, but especially just warm from the oven. The amazing thing is that they are perfectly autumn and the moisture hasn’t given way to the little bricks that so many other scones can become.

I may have mentioned my favourite fall outings to the pumpkin patch, my Scottish roots and even my recent vacation. All of which brought me to my current gluttony of scones and tea.

Having arrived home after 2 1/2 weeks in the sun, one of my hoarded pumpkins wasn’t too happy about being hauled inside a little early. With signs of softness starting, I knew it wouldn’t store but since it was one of my favourite Galeux d’Eysines, I didn’t really mind carving in early.
These old French heirlooms are perfect for baking and savoury dishes.
Might be why these thing taste so good!

(That’s her in the middle, my Galeux d’Eysines in all her unspoiled glory.)


PUMPKIN CRANBERRY SCONES

1 1/2 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Cold Vegan Butter, cubed
3/4 Cup Pumpkin Purée, I used unseasoned, roasted Galeux d’Eysines, but canned is already drained
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon, ground
Pinch Freshly Ground Nutmeg, about 1/8 tsp.
5 T Clementine or Orange Juice, 2 clementines
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries

Preheat oven to 450ºF.
Drain any excess water from the pumpkin purée with a fine mesh sieve, if necessary.
Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, pulsing to sift.
Add the cold, cubed butter and pulse to a coarse bread-crumbly consistency.
Add the the pumpkin and clementine juice to combine.
Add the dried cranberries and pulse, just to incorporate throughout the dough.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
With clean, floured hands, turn the dough out onto the parchment paper.
Pat the sticky dough into a workable 1″x8″ round and slice, with a floured blade, into 8 wedges.
Bake for 20 minutes or until tops have slightly goldened.

Allow to cool, only slightly, before eating.
Dust with confectioners sugar, if desired.

Mushroom Barley Soup


Baby it’s cold outside.
We just returned home from a sunny family vacation and were greeted with snowflakes.
Not exactly the homecoming I had in mind.

Needless to say, our cupboards were pretty bare of all things fresh, so the visit to the grocery store filled the cart and this week’s menu with produce filled warmth. Planned soups, stews and stuffed pastas were top of mind.
Those first flickers of snow whipped my memories of the beach to thoughts of cold toes and hearty lunches.
Along with onions, celery and carrots, the mushrooms were on the top of the bag, so they were the first in the pot. An old favourite from a little school on Toronto Island, this I knew was sure to please.

GARTH’S MUSHROOM BARLEY SOUP

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Onions, finely diced
1 Carrot, finely diced
1 Celery Stalk, finely diced
1 pound Mushrooms, white button or crimini, sliced
12 Cups Water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 Cup Pot Barley
3 Tablespoons Tamari

Heat oil in a large stockpot.
Add diced onions to the oil and sweat
Add the diced carrots and celery to the onion and continue to sauté until soft.
Add the sliced mushrooms, water and salt.
When boiling add and tamari.
Reduce heat to a rolling simmer and cook until barley is puffed and soft, at least 30 minutes
Adjust seasoning adding more tamari or freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

Mixed Bean Minestrone



Autumn harvest getting you going? Or is it the threat of frost? I’m not exactly sure which it is for me personally, although I really didn’t mind scrambling to pick the last of my tomatoes and transfer them into the window.

I’m currently vacationing at the beach and even here, the weather’s got a Northerly blow. In fact, it’s down right chilly and where I’d love to return to a summer salad and berries, I’m finding myself craving soup.

Soup is one of those wonderful things that make the change in the weather a better transition. It’s comforting and easier than succumbing to putting on my first pair of socks of the season.

Quick and soothing, minestrone soup is the best way to using up a smattering of harvest vegetables. I just use whatever I have on hand at the time, including those tomatoes in my window sill. To make it a bit more substantial of a meal, I’ve also used up the bottoms of my pantry jars of kidney, red lentils, great northern, pintos and black eyed beans, before running out to restock for the winter, but really you could use any assortment of quicker cooking beans or just add a rinsed can of them at the end.

MIXED BEAN MINESTRONE

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Onion, diced
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1 Carrot, finely diced
1 Stalk Celery, diced
4 Cups Tomatoes, chopped – about 4-5 medium
1 Potato, peeled and diced (optional)
8 Cups Water
1 Cup Mixed Dry Beans, Pinto, Kidney, Red Lentils, or one 15oz can drained and well rinsed.
2 Bay Leaves
1 teaspoon Fresh Rosemary, finely chopped
1 Sprig Fresh Thyme, stemmed
1/2 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
1/2 Cup Frozen Green Peas (optional)

For quicker & softer beans, soak them for at least a few hours or over night.
Peel and dice the onion, then chop the carrot and celery.
Heat the oil in a large stockpot. Or if desired, a slow cooker on high.
Add the onion, carrot celery and minced garlic to sauté.
If you’re making the soup in a stockpot, once the onion has softened, about 3 minutes, add the potato, tomatoes, water, soaked dry beans, bay leaves and herbs. Otherwise, add everything to the crock-pot.
Cover with water and bring to a rolling simmer. Or reduce the heat to low in the crock pot and leave to cook for the day; 8-10 hours.
Once the carrots and beans are tender, add the frozen peas, salt and canned beans in lieu of the dry if using.
Adjust seasoning, adding freshly ground pepper.
Remove the bay leaves prior to serving.

Serve with fresh bread and freshly grated parmigiana, if desired.
Freezes well.