Thursday, September 25, 2008

Favorite foods and a recipe or two

Over at the Falling For Ewe Swap on Ravelry, its time for our weekly question. One of the participants asked this:

What meals or foods mean ‘Fall’ to you?

Oh, so many of them! Just the fact that things are cooling off so I can actually use the oven means great roasts (pork, beef or lamb) with lots of great fresh vegetables. Or yummy, filling casseroles. And baked goods, like pies and cobblers and doughnuts. But I think what says it most for me, especially since I am just finishing up the last of it, is this:

"Putting up" tomato soup in preparation for the long fall and winter months. (Notice that the barn shows up again, in a guest appearance with the soup!)

Although fresh tomatoes are, of course, the reigning queen of summer food around here, my focus is always on getting huge batches of tomato soup put up. I no longer make tomato juice, stewed tomatoes, etc....its all about the soup for us these days ;) And it is sooooo easy (at least I think so) We use it every way...straight up (and usually along with toasted cheese sandwiches) or as an addition to casseroles and pot roasts. Husband and I have been known to savor it for breakfast ((grin))

Would you like me to share my recipe? Like so many, it is my own version, compiled and combined from several others. But it works and we like it and so do many of my family and friends who shamelessly barter for jars of this goodness ((more grins))

This recipe is easily halved, if you want to just do a few tomatoes at a time throughout the season.
8 quarts fresh tomatoes (I throw in everything, including all my favorite varieties of cherry tomatoes - Super Sweet 100 and Yellow Pear being two of those)
Onions (usually 2 - 4 large, depending on what is on hand)
Peppers (a mixture of bell peppers, banana peppers and even hot peppers...whatever is ripe and usually in equal amounts to the onion)
Celery (a couple of stalks, chopped up and including the leaves)
Parsley (I go easy on this...just chopping up a few stalks of the flat leaf Italian type)
Garlic (as much as your family likes...I usually use four or five big cloves, minced)
1/4 to 1/2 cup salt (I use kosher salt and it seems to take less. Adjust to your own personal taste)

I core the larger tomatoes, but don't bother to peel them and the cherry tomatoes I just toss in to a large kettle for cooking down. Peel and chunk up the onions; remove the seeds from the peppers and chunk them up. Chop the parsley and celery; peel and mince the garlic. Sprinkle the salt over all and bring slowly to a boil over medium-low heat. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer about an hour stirring occasionally. Your house will smell so good! Remove from heat and let cool down a bit before you run the vegetables either through the blended or food processor and then a sieve to remove the seeds and small bits of skin. Put your tomato puree back into a kettle to reheat. At this point, combine and add:

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour (I use regular flour, but have heard others have used rice or potato flour)
1 heaping teaspoon each of allspice, cinnamon and cloves (I buy my spices in bulk and freshly grind all of these. If you are using canned, you may want to use a bit less)

I use a whisk to slowly add this mixture to the soup as it is heating. Then add 1/2 cup of butter and continue stirring as it all heats slowly, until the butter is melted. Pour into hot jars, put the lids on and process in a water bath canner at 20 minutes for pints, 30 minutes for quarts. **NOTE: I am assuming that if you are making this, you already know something about canning foods and will follow all recommended safety precautions. I accept no responsibility for mistakes on your part...this is just a general recipe

When you are ready to eat the soup, if you want it as a stand alone, you can dilute it with a cup of milk or water. It is really great with some fresh home made croutons on top and a grating of cheese.

How about one more recipe, one of our family favorites, as a way to use your delicious tomato soup (of course, you can also use store bought if you must). Cabbage is another of my fall favorite meals. As a kid, I always loved my grandma or my mom's Stuffed Cabbage Rolls and I learned to make it...often burning my fingers on the steaming hot cabbage leaves as I rolled the hamburger filling up in them. Then one day I discovered a faster, easier and still tasty substitute LAZY DAY CABBAGE ROLL CASSEROLE. Here it is:

3 cups chopped cabbage
1 pound hamburger (ground lamb works in this, too)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons rice, uncooked
1 can tomato soup
Soup can (or jar) of water

Place cabbage in a greased baking pan (I use a 9 x 13) Brown the burger, onion and pepper seasoned with salt and pepper. Add the rice, soup and water and mix together. Heat through, about 10 minutes, and pour over the cabbage. Cover and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or till cabbage is tender at 325 degrees.

All we add to this to make a meal is a nice hearty slice of bread slathered with butter. Hmmm...that just might be tonight's supper ;)



Lona said...

Because of the uncertainty of the times, I am inspired to put up even more food than usual. Printing off your tomato soup recipe...thanks for sharing it!

Anonymous said...

MMMMMMMMM - Jim loves tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches in the winter. This recipe sounds very yummy and I need to print and store away.

Trust you are well and the turning leaves you continue to share with those of us in the desert. The colors are so very lovely and inspiring.

Love you.

Theresa said...

Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches have to be one of the best comfort food combos! In my family we also make the sandwiches with tuna and cheese and they are awesome dunked in the soup! :o) Also one year when I was about 4 or 5, we came home from 2 weeks of elk hunting and there were no groceries in the house. Grandma made us tomato soup and we had raspberry jam sandwiches. The bread was old and dry so she told us to dunk it in the soup. Odd combo, but I still occasionally crave a raspberry jam sandwich dipped in tomato soup! LOL I don't know if it's the taste or the memories. I was hoping to can this year but with the knee injury have decided to let it go until next summer.