I have been into tomato soup recently. I like to roast the tomatoes with things like onions and peppers, and then blend them. Or even easier, just open a few jars of tomato sauce, add some water, harissa, salt and olive oil, and serve with broiled cheese toasts.


There are too many options for exactly how to make this soup, but here is a very general guideline that I like to follow.


For roasting tomatoes:

Place cut tomatoes (I slice them in half), butternut squash chunks, hot peppers, onion slices, apples, and anything else you would like to add, onto a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, add a sprig of fresh basil if you have it, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at about 350-400 degrees until the vegetables are cooked and caramelized. It might be advisable to stir a few times during the cooking process.

Remove the vegetables from the pan, making sure to collect the juices from cooking. I will often pour in a little hot water to capture as much as I can.

Mix cooked vegetables with water (or vegetable broth for a richer soup), some harissa, and any other flavors that you would like to add here. Blend with a stick blender or put through a food mill. If it is too thick, you can add water. If it is too thin, you can cook it down, or add a handful of cooked couscous or pasta and let it simmer for a few more minutes.  I like this soup to be on the thin side because the cheese toasts end up soaking up extra liquid.

Heat the soup up, and serve with broiled cheese toasts with mustard, and extra pepper, salt, and olive oil for garnish. And some chopped parsley, basil or cilantro.

To make cheese toasts:

Slice 1-2 pieces of stale bread per serving and place on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and place a slice or some gratings of cheese on top. Broil in the oven, watching like a HAWK! I am really good at burning the cheese toasts.  Serve soup with cheese toasts on top.


It is a little bit grim what happens to pumpkins. The seeds are planted, they spend all summer collecting energy from the sun, and nutrients from the soil and water, and then we eat them. Scrub, de-stem, seed, and bake in the oven in a tray of boiling water. Jay took the picture above in the oven with his camera that can capture lovely dark images!

I love my pumpkins. Jay came over today to see the harvest (which was rather small…) and we decided to make a pot of pumpkin soup. With a Long Island Cheese variety.

We cut the pumpkin in half, seeded it and saved the seeds. (I do figure that the purpose of the plant is to continue to create offspring, so my meticulously saving and planting the seeds does count for something after I cut open and eat the squash…)

We baked the pumpkin in a 400 degree oven until it was tender, and the top had browned.

(I is important to wait until the pumpkin is well done. The skin just peels off if you do!)

I mashed the pumpkin flesh with a fork, and added it to a mixture of sauteed onions and garlic, parsley, and a little bit of parmesan cheese rind ready on the stove.

After we mixed everything together the soup was pretty much finished. It was bubbling on the stove for five or ten minutes, and then we served it up. We garnished it with fresh parsley, grated parmesan, and toasted pumpkin seed oil (a real treat!).

We managed to find little spots on the table to eat. I was definitely knocking elbows with pumpkins throughout the meal, but it was fun anyways!

Pumpkin Soup (more like guidelines than a recipe!)


a smallish long island cheese pumpkin (or any pumpkin or winter squash) cut in half and seeded

a small onion

a few cloves of garlic

olive oil

a few sprigs (or more) of parsley

a bit of parmesan cheese rind

some more parsley, cheese, and pumpkin seed oil for garnish

salt and pepper


Bake pumpkin cut side down in an inch or so of water in a 400 degree oven.

Meanwhile, chop and sautee onions, and whole clove or two of garlic in olive oil over medium low heat. Add some salt, and then after a few minutes the chopped parsley and parmesan rind. Stir for about a minute or so, then add a tiny bit water and let simmer for a few minutes and then set aside.

The pumpkin should be about done here, and you can scrape it right from the shell and add directly to the soup. I used the water from baking pumpkin for the soup instead of broth or fresh water.

Stir everything well, and blend or put through a food mill if you like. Let the soup simmer for ten or fifteen minutes before serving.

Garnish with extra chopped parsley, freshly grated parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and toasted pumpkin seed oil (all optional).

roast soup

October 13, 2010

I am finally getting pumpkins from the patch, and since it is fall, I feel like turning my oven on, and roasting things.

The other day, when I finished work, I was in the mood for some pumpkin soup, and had a few fresh chestnuts on the counter, some of the last tomatoes of the season (they were green and ripened on my counter), and home-grown garlic. I picked up some shallots and parsnips from the store, and roasted everything!

I sliced the pumpkin in half, saved the seeds, and cooked it cut side down in a pan of water.

I slit the chestnuts, peeled the shallots, and cut the top off of a head of garlic, and put them in my chestnut roasting pan. I drizzled olive oil over the garlic and shallots, and sprinkled some salt on the top. They roasted with the lid on!

In the third pan I mixed sliced parsnips, more shallots, also sliced, and the tomatoes. More olive oil, and a sprinkling of salt.

Everything roasted in the oven all evening. When I arrived home at the end of the night, I took everything out, scraped the pumpkin out of the shells, peeled the chestnuts, and put everything in a pot.

The vegetables cooked down, and many sugars carmalized!

In the morning, I added water and pureed the mixture with my stick blender.

I served the soup with freshly grated parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. And a drizzle of toasted pumpkin seed oil, a real treat!

green tomato chutney

October 3, 2010

When a recipe calls for 6 pounds of something, I need to realize that it will be big. Now I have a lot of jars of green tomato chutney. Cooked with apples, peppers, brown sugar, red wine vinegar, cumin, hot pepper, and clove.

I started out by slicing and x in the bottom of each tomato. Then I dropped them into boiling water so that the skins would come off easily. They didn’t. If anyone has any tips for removing the skins of green tomatoes, please let me know. I ended up leaving lots of skins on, especially on the tiny ones…I just didn’t have the patience.

While the tomatoes were draining with salt, I prepared the remaining ingredients. Apples, onions, shallots, and garlic. To this mixture I added the tomatoes, red wine vinegar, and salt.

And cooked, stirring frequently for about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, I ground up the spices:cloves, cumin, dried peppers, and yellow mustard powder. I added the spices, to the bubbling chutney, along with sugar, black currants, and more vinegar.

Then I cooked the mixture down and down. For quite a while longer. Til all the color was cooked out…and then jarred it.

I wait until it rains to pull the carrots in my garden. For some reason the soil is really hard, and it is nearly impossible to pull carrots out of the dry soil.

I was able to pull a bunch of carrots, purple and orange, and I mixed them with some diakon radish, rice vinegar, salt, sugar and minced pepper to make a quick pickle. I loosely adapted the recipe from The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich.

I chopped the vegetables into little strips and set them aside in a bowl.

Meanwhile, I chopped up several red chiles and mixed them with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. I heated the mixture to melt the sugar, and let it cool before pouring over the veggies. Which I then stuck in a jar in the fridge. They will last up to a week, but are better eaten sooner! I am sure that will be no problem.

pickled okra

August 30, 2010

My dad likes pickled okra. He arranged with a farmer at our farmer’s market to pick a whole bunch of tiny okra (the size that is best for eating too!). If you pick them too large, then they won’t even fit in the canning jar! The tiny okra were pricy, and okra is definitely going on my list for garden veggies to plant next spring.

I made the pickle with vinegar, hot peppers, okra and dill seeds. A recipe from the Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich. First step was to wash the vegetables, and then distribute them, and the dill seeds in pint jars. I ended up making 6 jars.

Meanwhile I heated vinegar, water, and salt in a pot, and then poured the brine-like mixture over the okra packed in jars, and processed the jars according to directions (15 minutes?). I remembered this time to remove the air bubbles (with a chopstick)!

I used a batch of vintage mason jars from my friend Jeanne, which made the finished jars of pickles extra cute!

a single serving

August 18, 2010

What to do when you have a few beautiful tomatoes that must be eaten, but you are full? Can them. In tiny jars, for single servings of pasta sauce.

I was canning peaches yesterday, and made along side a little pan of pasta sauce. I filled up two tiny jars with sauce, and processed them along with the peaches. I don’t think that I would have canned the jars if I hadn’t been processing the peaches already. It would have been too much boiling water for too small a result…

Now, when I am home some night, in the winter, I can open up one of my two tiny jars, and make noodles with sauce. And there won’t be any left overs!

I have to say I am a sweet pickle person. I can open a jar of sweet pickles and eat the entire thing. It is more fun with a friend, but I can definitely do it by myself.

I got this recipe from a woman who lived outside Iowa City. These pickles were one of the first (maybe the first) canning endeavors that I undertook on my own. In my tiny apartment without proper supplies. I burned myself, but ended up with 6 jars of lovely pickles. Needless to say, I was hooked.

The cucumbers are cut and left to sit, covered in salt and ice water. The salt draws moisture out of the cucumbers which results in crispy pickles!

After the cucumbers have sat for several hours, the vinegar, sugar and spices are heated up. The cucumbers are then heated in the syrup for 5 minutes and then ladled into jars and processed.

I am wondering how this batch will come out as I did let the cucumbers sit in the fridge for several days…it was just too hot to be working over a pot of boiling water!

cool cool cucumber

July 27, 2010

A friend gave me a bag of huge cucumbers the other day. They were overgrown for sure, and so I decided to juice them. It is hot hot hot here, and so I have been motivated to lie on the couch and take naps. And drink cool cucumber juice. With sugar and lime. And a bit of mint.

I halved and quartered the cucumbers and put them in the champion juicer. I left the juice in the fridge to cool off, and then when it was cool I added sugar, fresh lime juice and fresh mint.

And sat around on the couch drinking it. Not doing much else…

Note: For the record, its not quite as good as Binghi Mon’s cucumber juice, found at various locations around town…

russian pickles

July 24, 2010

This morning I got to the market early and found some pickling cucumbers, dill, and garlic. I picked some grape leaves at my dad’s house, and a handful of oak leaves from a tree in my yard.

I used a recipe from The Joy of Pickling and Preserving for Russian dill pickles. Oak leaves are added for flavor (instead of fermenting the pickles in an oak barrel which I don’t have..).

Pickles are a no heat project which is great since it is so hot today! Wash the jar, layer the cucumbers, herbs, and spices, and cover with salt water. EASY.

This recipe included hot peppers, garlic, mustard and coriander seeds, peppercorns, and bay leaves. The pickles are covered with a layer of oak leaves, and then some grape leaves, and then pressed down with a glass disk to keep everything submerged in the brine.