Saturday, April 24, 2010
A Season of Soups and Mellow Fruit
Autumn is well installed here on the farm. The last vestiges of late summer are gone, a few tomatoes left clinging on the vine, but no longer bursting with ripeness, rather sulkily deciding whether to make the effort or not. A few early guavas have ripened on our trees, too fragrant and sweet to be cooked, they were eaten long before thoughts of guava parfait came to anything. But more are ready to harvest, enticing with crystal scent of fruit and flowers.
The patchwork blankets, knitted by my mother-in law, are back on the beds, after a summer of sleeping under sarongs and ceiling fan. Slippers and dressing-gowns are dug out of cupboards and soup at lunch time has become a life-saver after a morning spent with sluggish circulation labouring at the computer. Warm sun outside never quite banishes the chill from inside the house in the day time and, though we haven’t yet been desperate enough to light our first fire of the year, there is wood stacked by the front door in case. The time is getting nearer.
My two old faithful soups were getting a little jaded even before we really got into the cold weather. The kids aren’t too fond of soup anyway and can only tolerate a few basic recipes: the clear one with the pasta and the lentil one, though that is fast falling from favour. This year, all three of them are at school with sandwiches for four lunches a week and I felt inspired to make soup just for us, getting more adventurous with flavours.
So with a glut of tomatoes still to be processed last week, I came upon this South African tomato and onion soup recipe of Juno’s. Roasting the onions and tomatoes gives a far richer and more intense flavour than your average tomato soup, and with the addition of some Tabasco sauce, it was warming and suitably grown-up. I have to confess to not following all instructions and quantities to the letter and ended up creating a huge mess in the kitchen, as I used both food processor and mouli to get the texture I wanted. I didn’t leave everything softening in the oven quite long enough, as I had bread impatiently queuing up to go in at a higher temperature. The end result was superb though and kept the two of us happy and warmed for three weekday lunches.
Inspired by this success I put some white beans on to soak, intending to find a new exciting recipe for them. Google didn’t come up with just the recipe my tastebuds had in mind, so I ended up putting together elements from several, and my new creation is bubbling on the stove for lunch today. Now I’ve just got to taste it and decide whether it’s worthy of entering into Taste magazine’s soup competition in which case it might have to stay a secret… except that now you know it’s got beans as an important ingredient!
This afternoon, spring bulbs need planting, it’s a still, sunny, warm day, the first oxalis are peeping out of the dry looking earth, the watsonia leaves way ahead of the rest of the pack of spring bulbs, even though they won’t flower until September and the sun birds are merrily flitting between the wildedagga flowers and the tekoma, glittering iridescent as their wings catch the sunlight, making time to play in between the busyness of living.
Autumn on the farm is pretty good.