Sunday, March 22, 2015

Harvest and a Recipe for Tomato Soup

It’s our autumn festival tomorrow – the time when we celebrate harvest, the earth and all the good things that come from it. Most years our harvest is a dim memory by now – the strawberries long gone, almonds harvested a month ago and the veggie garden almost bare, struggling to keep going at this end of the summer and thirstily waiting for the winter rains to bring it back to life.

Not this year. This year we are groaning under a super abundance of tomatoes. I’ve been making Jane-Anne’s roast onion and tomato soup in large batches until my freezer is full of it. I’ve been peeling and dicing tomatoes for the freezer. I took a box full to the last Camphill market and sold most of them. I’ve been picking whole baskets every single morning and giving them away to friends. Our staff have been taking home as much as they can carry. And still there are more.

It's messy and overgrown with grass but those falling down tomatoes are tasty!

I think we might have planted just a few too many tomato plants for our needs! But it is wonderful to have lovely rich tasty tomatoes to squander guilt-free in large quantities on soups and sauces. If I were a diligent farmer’s wife I would have been canning them and already have enough for a year’s supply. But I don’t have those proper canning jars and all the online canning gurus insist on new lids and proper seals, so I’m hesitant about trying it with recycled jam jars. So instead I freeze chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato soup until there is no more room, and then think of who else I can give tomatoes to!

One thing is for sure, we’ll be eating tomato soup at our festival tomorrow, plus salad from the garden and maybe a spinach and feta quiche. So the feta isn’t from the garden but the spinach is. And we need to use up all our frozen guava puree from last year’s harvest to make room in the freezer for this year’s guavas, which will be ripening from the end of next month onwards, so it will be guava fool for pudding.

Edited to add: I didn’t get round to posting this on Friday, so it’s a day after the festival, which I’ll post about separately. Friends from Camphill came over on Friday evening and we filled four big buckets of tomatoes for them to take back and share around the village. And still there are more tomatoes begging to be picked!

Tomato Soup Recipe
A roast tomato and onion soup is a fantastic way of getting plenty of oomph out of ripe tomatoes (see link above for Jane-Anne's fabulous version). I was going to make a huge batch for our festival yesterday, but Eskom decreed otherwise, so I had to come up with a stove-top adaptation. It worked and had plenty of flavour, even though it was slightly subtler, and didn’t need the addition of stock to let it down at all. This is it in a rough version. Feel free to change quantities.

6 medium onions peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
20 or so ripe tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste.

Cut onions into quarters and then eighths.
In a large pan heat the butter and olive oil, add the onions and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally until they are softening and starting to caramelise.
Do let them catch on the bottom towards the end to get that caramelly depth.
Add the vinegar and stir.
Add in the tomatoes with  a seasoning of salt and pepper, stir well.
Cover the pot and leave to cook at a medium/low heat until everything is tender, 45 minutes to an hour).
If you don’t have electricity, process through a mouli-legumes, otherwise a liquidiser will do!
Check the seasoning and consistency. If it’s too thick let the puree down with some vegetable or chicken stock - mine was just right as is, but it depends on the juiciness of the tomatoes and length of time cooking.

1 comment:

  1. Kit - what kind of tomato plants are those, that grow along the ground? I have never in my life seen anything like that! Our tomato plants (not mine, because I don't have enough sun on my property to grow any, too many trees) here in the US grow upright, supported by cages... I had no idea tomatoes could grow on the ground! It looks like something out of a fairy tale - carpets of tomatoes! I'm astounded. Thanks for the recipe!


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!