Good olive oil, run-on sentences, and bread soup.

I have long felt hard done by for the lack of a large Italian grandmother in my life. My grandmothers have all been quite fantastic, of course, but we’re so Canadian that one not-too-distant relative was mentioned briefly in a Farley Mowat book, which I am pretty sure is the Canadian equivalent of boasting ancestors arriving on the Mayflower. Which is not to say that Canadian is a milquetoast heritage – it’s got more than its share of culinary ooh-la-la, and not just what Americans call Canadian Bacon (which is actually just ham). But what it doesn’t have is olive oil.

You know where does have fantastic olive oil, though? San Francisco. So maybe an Italian grandmother is not entirely what I need – maybe I need an American BFF instead.

Years ago I discovered the good olive oil, and it comes from a shop in the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. It’s made from organically grown California olives, and I would do some very morally questionable things to have access to a lifetime’s supply. Unfortunately, they don’t ship to Canada. It’s like being in love with someone who doesn’t return your calls.

So when we went back recently, I had but two orders of business: get myself to City Lights Bookstore which is the kind of place I nearly fall down weeping at the entrance to which means that I chose the right major in spite of the long-term earning potential I sacrificed; and, get to the Ferry Building for the good olive oil. I misjudged the distance from Fisherman’s Warf to our oily destination, causing my party of five to have to hike nearly thirty minutes in bad footwear, but it was totally worth it. For me.

What I love about the good olive oil – Stonehouse Olive Oil, if you’re too lazy or captivated by my elegant prose to click the link above – is that it tastes how I imagine fresh olive oil in Italy would. They sell each batch the same year it’s harvested, so it’s as fresh as you can get without actually sticking your face under the olive press.

Oh, San Francisco – what scandalous, depraved, excellent things I would do to be able to live with you forever.

Anyway, I got the oil, and I’m hoarding it. Except I used some tonight, a good amount of it for someone who is unsure when they’ll be back to the States to get more. We had soup – an enormous pot of it, because it’s the week before payday and we’re just back from vacation and OMG-broke, like, so much so that I jammed the vending machine at work with foreign money this morning trying to get an orange juice. I make big pots of soup when I’d prefer to stretch a meal into three to avoid starvation, and this, made of pantry staples, will take us handsomely through lunch and all the way to dinner tomorrow. For regular households, that means eight to ten servings. It’s easily adapted to smaller feedlots, however, so fiddle with it until it’s to your liking.

Bread Soup

(Serves 8 to 10.)

  • 1/4 cup good olive oil (I don’t believe I ever specify extra-virgin, but it’s what I mean by good olive oil)
  • 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 lb. stale bread, cubed and toasted (about four thick slices)
  • 2 28 oz. cans whole tomatoes, plus juice
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 19 oz. can cannelini or white kidney beans
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (flat-leaf is better, but the curly stuff is okay if that’s all you can get)
  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest
  • As much pepper as you feel you need

In a large pot over medium-high heat, warm olive oil. When olive oil is hot, add garlic, and sauté until fragrant and lightly golden, about two minutes.

Meanwhile, whizz bread cubes in a food processor or blender until you end up with coarse crumbs. You don’t want to grind the bread too finely, or you will end up with a soup with boring texture, and no one wants that.

Add bread crumbs to the oil, and stir to coat. Immediately begin squishing tomatoes into the mix, adding juice quickly and scraping the bottom of the pot to ensure nothing burns to it. Add the wine. Stir again. Add the broth.

Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

After a half-hour, add beans, cheese, parsley, lemon zest, and pepper. Simmer an additional five minutes, until parsley has wilted and the whole thing smells magnificent.

If it’s a dark and stormy night and the water runs down the window so fast your cat can’t keep up with the drops, serve piping hot, with a swirl of your favourite olive oil, a lemon wedge, and a fat hunk of crusty fresh bread. And wine. Red wine. If it’s not, this is pretty nice chilled, like a hearty gazpacho, but serve with a charming white wine, a Pinot Grigio or a Sauvignon Blanc instead.

It’s delicious on the first round, like a bread and bean stew, but even better the second day. The hallmark of a quality meal, if you ask me and my imaginary Italian grandmother.

Food is love, and I know that leggings aren’t really pants.

We’ve been away this week, in San Francisco and Las Vegas, and I am going to tell you all about it a little bit later. In particular, I will tell you about good olive oil, and a twist on anchoïade with sardines that will be perfect for eating on crostini with summer’s pitchers of sangria and large bowls of olives. Not today.

I made a soup today from recipe that I learned watching a cooking show in my hotel room in San Francisco, when everyone else was asleep and I was too tired to shower or put on pants just yet (little do you know that by pants, I mean leggings, which are nothing like pants except for the leg tubes you thrust your feet through). At that point, my stomach still mostly agreed with me, though after a day of bad airport burgers (the waitress told me afterward that the secret was microwaving) and plenty of happy hour libations, things were due to turn.

And I get why my grandma used to say “travel is broadening.” I love America, and I read all the time about how good the food is there. But for some reason, when I’m there, my diet consists almost exclusively of bread, cheese, seafood, meat, and beer. Heavy on the meat and beer, and man, if you could deep-fry beer I think I’d give up because that would itself be manna. Occasionally a tomato-based cocktail for nourishment, and more often than necessary a corn-dog or doughnut. Maybe it’s because vacations are a time to eat what you don’t get at home, or maybe nothing with lentils ever calls to me louder than anything with tartar sauce.

In any case, whenever I come home from a trip, a wholesome meal is the first thing I want. It comes before unpacking, just after sprawling on the floor for scratches behind ears and haunches, hers, and scratchy kitten kisses on the paws, mine. As I was chopping the carrots and testing the wine for freshness, it occurred to me that it is as much the food of the meal as it is the ritual that I take comfort in. Food is love, and not just in that “I eat to feel love” kind of way, which is supposed to be a sign of sadness or disordered eating. Personally, I think there’s nothing wrong with eating to feel the love of a piece of cold roast chicken from the refrigerator after midnight, or of a soft coddled egg for dinner on a Saturday night you’ve chosen to spend alone, or of the kind of chocolate you absolutely would not share – there is love in those things, for sure.

But food is also love in a different (and depending upon how you look at it, healthier) way, one that ties you to the idea of a place, a feeling of home. I believe that no matter where I am, if I can cut a ripe tomato, a piece of soft cheese, and a hunk of crusty bread, I am home. No, correction. In part. I believe that no matter where I am, if there are tomatoes and soft cheeses and bread and someone you like to share it all with, that is home. The looking forward to sharing a rather basic part of your existence with another person, in something so intimate as eating, is as rewarding as the melting of the flesh of that tomato into the chewy centre of the bread inside your mouth. I think that is why I like dinner parties – some of my best fun happens around a table of like-minded eaters, and the wine needs to be plentiful and only pretty much palatable to tie it all together.

We gather around food. At the end of a day in which I decide four times to spend my next paycheque on airfare and bugger off, it is reassuring to know that when I come home, and to my senses (ish), there will be a pot and a few ingredients and a knife, and a rather nice-looking other person to fantasize about San Francisco or London or Berlin or Seoul with. At the end of today, we ate an easy soup over steamed cabbage, the bowl rung with a little bit of good olive oil, shared a glass of less-than-palatable red wine, and talked to each other.

And that’s the thing. The talking. The sharing of ritual, of basic needs such as eating and company, and of more complicated needs like dirty jokes, witty banter, and tipsiness. Of getting to know a friend, a roommate, a life partner or a meantime someone a little bit better – the closeness of sitting an elbow’s length apart, just talking. Food is love, and not in that sick-squicky Hallmark way that makes you throw up just a little at the back of your throat. It is because food, most especially food that you create for yourself and another person, creates a feeling of home. I want you to eat – and I made this for you – because I like you.

So, come over. And if you’re too far away or are allergic to cats or uncomfortable with awkward sexual advances, invite someone to your place. You don’t have to make anything fancy – far better if you don’t, actually. The effort, your display of caring, will be more than enough. And you will feast marvelously, because at that point, it’s impossible not to.

Which reminds me. Food is love, and Nick is asleep, but there is a cat here who has been on me or between my feet since I arrived home eleven or so hours ago. It could be time for a cuddly moment of kippered herring, a fresh toy dipped in catnip, and a round of sedatives those of us who would rather not drink any more of this wine.

Creamy, springy trout chowder.

I know. You’re probably looking at that photo thinking, “wow, she’s pretty lucky,” or “he’s probably the best she could do.” Some days, I’m not sure which is right. Or maybe you’re new here and this is your introduction, and you’re thinking that you’ve made a horrible mistake in clicking whatever link brought you here.

Fortunately, today’s recipe is pretty sound. And it was fished for by the above-implicated weekend fisherman, which means it was local and sustainable and all those keywords that people and I love to toss around. So today, I have for you a recipe for trout chowder, and it is all the things you want from a chowder. Fresh. Moderately healthy, if fattening. Local. Contains bacon. Good stuff.

Trout chowder

(Serves six.)

  • 1/4 lb. bacon, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 lb. new potatoes, boiled and cooled, and then cut into bite-size chunks
  • 3 stalks celery, halved lengthwise and chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 lb. trout, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

In a large (three or four quart) pot over medium-high heat, crisp up bacon. When bacon is glistening and crispy, add potatoes, stirring to coat, and fry for about three minutes, or until lightly golden. Add celery, garlic, and lemon zest. Sprinkle flour over top of ingredients in pot, and stir once again to coat.

Pour milk into the pot, and reduce to medium heat. Bring mixture to a boil, and once thickened, add pepper, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in trout and frozen peas, and cook for five to seven minutes, until trout is cooked through and mixture has returned to a boil.

Stir in lemon juice, followed by the cream. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve hot, with bread (or corn bread!), and cold, delicious beer. This is the kind of meal that will remind your spouse, special someone, roommate, or friend that you are so much better than the best they could do, and they will appreciate you profusely. If that person has had their tongue in a fish’s mouth recently, you do not have to appreciate him back.

Green soup.

I haven’t been around very much, and I haven’t been cooking. I’ve been busy, which after having been very not busy for over a month has proven exhausting, and even my weekends have been full of things. The past week has blown by and in its aftermath the weather? I am being pulled under it. By tonight I was an antisocial, horizontal mess and my main objective was to eat something restorative, something soothing that would put me back in my right place.


Vegetables are greener and brighter these days, and green things are all kinds of restorative. For soothing, an avocado. And if you’re feeling flat and beige, like I am, this is the kind of thing you can make with whatever you’ve got in your fridge – if your green things are chard or kale or even lettuce, it will be more than okay. My favourite leaf is spinach, but you can use what you like. Watercress, arugula, and dandelion greens are in season at the moment. It’s vegan and easily adapted to include other ingredients – the components are only part of the experience and are easily modified, subbed out, or dropped all together.

And it’s smooth, so there’s none of that complicated chewing to be worked out. You can eat it as close to horizontal as is comfortable.

Green soup

(Serves four to six.)

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or water (plus one or two cups additional water, as needed)
  • Juice of one large lemon, about 2 tbsp.
  • 2 to 3 cups leafy greens, packed
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped basil or cilantro
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 or 2 large jalapeño peppers, diced (if you prefer less heat, remove seeds and membrane before dicing)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Sweat onions and the white and light green parts of the scallions in olive oil, then add garlic. Sauté for a minute or two, until you can smell the garlic, then add four cups of stock, water, or a combination. Bring to a boil.

Stir in green things, allowing them a minute or two to wilt. Add lemon juice, and blend until smooth with a blender (in batches) or a hand blender. At this point, add liquid to reach desired consistency.

Stir in oregano, nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Taste, adjusting seasonings as needed – I used more water than stock, and found I needed about 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.

Garnish with yogurt, if desired, and serve hot or chilled.

Not your regular old ham-leftovers soup.

Related to my affection for (or obsession with) all things comfortable, I love soup. Related to my love of all pork products, I also love ham. I like lentils – I would never compare my feelings about them to my passion for ham (or even comfort), but as far as legumes go, they’re pretty outstanding as well. I ended up with a lot of leftover ham this past weekend, as we celebrated my Dad’s birthday and he wanted ham for dinner. He also wanted me to take home all the leftovers, so now my fridge is full – FULL! – of ham. I got the bone too, which is a major score.

I was going to make regular old split-pea and ham soup, because I love its salty porridgeyness, but Nick made a fuss and it was annoying so I caved, and decided that we’d have lentils instead. This is the soup that resulted. Try it with your Easter ham leftovers, and get cozy over a big bowl. And tell me what you think.

Lentil soup with ham

  • 1 ham bone
  • 1 lb. green lentils
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 lb. cubed cooked ham
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

In a large pot, combine ham bone, lentils, bay leaves, and eight to ten cups of water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to medium, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots, and sautée until glistening. Empty pan into pot.

Stir in garlic, cumin, pepper, lemon zest, and nutmeg, and continue to cook for another 30 minutes. Stir occasionally, as before. At this point, you may want to add another cup or two of water, and top up as needed to ensure your soup is a consistency you enjoy.

In the last five minutes of cooking, add the ham and lemon juice to the pot. At this point, it would be wise to taste, and add any salt you need. I don’t recommend salting until almost the end, because ham is so salty and you may not need much.

Just before serving, stir in parsley. Serve hot, with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of additional parsley, if desired.

Around here, it was a hit. And there are lots of leftovers, so I think it will continue to be a hit, right up until we take home our leftover Easter ham and have to make up another batch.

Red bean soup.

We’re going on a little vacation this weekend, so it’s nice to not have to buy groceries and also use up the stuff in the fridge. Also, periodically, I like to make a ton of soup, which can be frozen in containers for lunches. The timing was perfect for this soup, which is equal parts cheap to make and tasty to eat – the sweet potato gives the soup great texture and a touch of sweetness, and the combination of chipotle and lime makes it seriously flavourful.

It’s super good for you – low in fat, high in fibre, and filled with healthy stuff. Also, it goes very well with cold beer. So, no one loses!

Even if you don’t have this stuff in your fridge, I recommend a trip to the market to make this one on a weeknight. It’ll take you about an hour, not including the time to soak the beans – just plan ahead a bit, setting the beans to soak before you leave for work. And the leftovers are even better the next day.

Red bean soup

(Serves four to six.)

  • 1/2 lb. dried red kidney beans, soaked for eight hours
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small sweet potato, diced (about one cup, but if you end up with a bit more, just use it)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 5.5 oz. can tomato paste
  • 2 to 4 chipotles (or to taste), chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Water

Drain and thoroughly rinse beans. Don’t use the liquid you soaked the beans in, because that liquid contains something like 80% of the farty compounds that make beans so unpleasant sometimes. If you drain and rinse, you’ll wash that away. Set aside.

In a large pot, sweat onions, sweet potato, and celery in olive oil. Add garlic, and pour beans into the pot. Fill pot with four cups of water.

Bring to a boil over high heat. Maintain a boil for about five minutes, before reducing to medium-high heat, and stir in tomato paste. Let cook, uncovered, for thirty to forty minutes, until sweet potatoes are soft and beans are easily cut in half. Add chipotles. (Note: You can buy chipotles in cans in the Latin section of the supermarket, or in smaller Latin markets. They’re cheaper there. Or just get them for free from your friends who go to Mexico.)

Remove pot from heat, and blend until smooth with an additional two to three cups of water, adding extra water for thinner consistency, if desired.

Return to heat, and stir in cumin, coriander, and the juice of the lime. Add salt and pepper, taste, and adjust seasoning as needed.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream, topped with shredded cheddar cheese and chopped cilantro. A side of tortilla chips is a nice touch. And don’t forget the beer.

Miso Monday.

Today is a very stiff day, in which I am confined mostly to the couch with inflammation and unbrushed hair. Fortunately, I’ve got three seasons of Sex and the City on DVD and close at hand, so even though I am stuck here, I can’t say I mind. Painkillers and television are such wonderful things when used in combination.

For sick days or lazy days or days where you can’t do much with your hands, miso soup is a great thing, easy, and only four ingredients. Five if you have scallions, but I did not. I stole this recipe, sort of, from my friend Tracy, who eats this stuff every day for lunch – when you amortize the cost of the ingredients over the length of time they’ll last for, it’s a meal you can make for literally cents and little more. It’s filling enough and good for you, too.

You can buy kelp and miso at stores like Whole Foods or at Asian markets, where it’s likely to be cheaper.

Also, the darker your miso paste, the more flavour you’ll get. I only had white miso paste (shiro miso), but I like the red stuff a lot better. But you can make do with what you’ve got, and adjust the amounts of each ingredient to your own taste.

Miso soup

(Serves one; multiply for additional servings.)

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 strip macro kelp, trimmed into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 heaping tablespoon miso paste (or to taste – if using red or black miso, use less)
  • 4 mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 bite-size cubes of medium-firm tofu
  • 1 tbsp. chopped green onions (optional)
  • A few drops of sesame oil (optional)

In a small pan over medium-high heat, add kelp to water and bring to a gentle boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low, and add miso paste. Taste as you go, adding more to taste.

When paste is dissolved and you’ve reached your desired flavour, stir in mushrooms and tofu and simmer gently, until just heated through, about two minutes.

If adding scallions and sesame oil, stir into soup just before serving. Serve with tea, or with a refreshing glass of ginger ale. And then take a nap, if you feel like it.

UPDATE: I tried this again, with two kinds of miso, and it was even more fantastic. I also sauteed the mushrooms quickly in a bit of butter and the tiniest bit of garlic before adding them to the soup, and the results were a revelation, totally serious.

Winter minestrone.

In between this season’s feasts, sometimes it’s nice to have a bit of soup, crusty bread, and a night of very little thinking, and maybe a good book or some bad TV. This is an easy soup you can make with stuff you already have in your cupboards and fridge, and it’s great for weeknights when you want something hot and wholesome in a hurry.

Chickpea Minestrone

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 stalks of celery, halved lengthwise and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, quartered lengthwise and chopped
  • 1 leek, white and light-green part only, finely chopped
  • 1 medium sweet potato, diced (about one cup)
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 19 oz. can chickpeas
  • 1 5 1/2 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, sweat onions, celery, and carrots with olive oil, about three minutes. Stir in leeks and sweet potatoes, then pour in stock and water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to medium and simmer for 15 minutes.

Drain and rinse chickpeas, then add to the pot as well. Stir in tomato paste, pepper, marjoram, oregano, thyme, and cumin. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

Taste and adjust seasonings, as needed. Before serving, stir in parsley and Parmesan. Garnish with a few drops of good olive oil, and serve with fresh bread.

Hi, I’m dying. I thought chicken noodle soup would help.

And it did help, a little, the chicken noodle soup. It’s too early to know whether it will come back to surprise me again later.

It’s been a fun couple of days – yesterday I was really excited because I was going to come straight home from work and make a mofongo with poached eggs and avocado salsa, but midway through the day I broke my molar in half on some candy at the office. I rushed out to the suburbs, where my dentist could see me last-minute. I have a silver tooth now, in the back. It’s very shiny.

So I didn’t get my mofongo, because I was only allowed to eat soup or oatmeal, soft, non-chewing foods, so we had soup. And then, about 10:30 that night, after Nick had been a puke monster for a number of hours already, the sickness took hold of me as well. It’s not swine flu, I don’t think, because I don’t smell bacon, but it’s unpleasant nevertheless. So, I didn’t get my mofongo again.

I feel like a Pepto Bismol ad. If the Pepto Bismol was spiked with laxatives and poison. And if the cameraman was beating my face with a hammer.

I mulled some wine and took some pills and made some chicken noodle soup, so hopefully I’ll survive the night. Here’s the recipe. It’s just exactly what you’ll need when you feel like I do, and, if we’ve been in contact recently, you’ll probably feel like I do soon enough.

Chicken noodle soup

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on (three to four)
  • 1 medium onion, quartered with peel left on
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed with skins left on
  • 1 small leek, greens separated
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup carrots (about two, quartered and chopped)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped leek, the white part
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup broad egg noodles
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium pot, heat olive oil and add chicken, onions, and garlic, browning lightly. Add in about six cups of water, and the leek tops, the thyme, the bay leaves, and the salt. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes.

Stock, in its early stages.Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool. Put pot in fridge, uncovered, and let cool for about 30 minutes.

In a large pot, heat 2 tsp. olive oil, and stir in carrots, celery, and leek until sweaty and glistening. You know, like you there with that fever. I know chicken soup might not be the best thing to help break a fever, but no one ever felt better eating cold chicken soup, and the Slurpee machine at the gas station is no longer operating.

Shred the chicken, disposing of the skin and bones.

Skim the fat off the top of the stock, and strain into a measuring cup. You’ll probably need to do this a few times – you should have about six cups of stock. Add the stock to the sweaty vegetables. If you’re shy of six cups, you can use store-bought stock to make up the difference, but water is also fine. Stir in your lemon juice, and bring to a boil. Add your noodles and chicken, and boil for five to six minutes, until veggies and noodles are tender. Adjust your seasonings – I added another few teaspoons of salt.

Soup.Serve with crackers and ginger ale while you watch Star Trek, sweating in your underpants.

SDC12112Feel better. Don’t die. Also, this recipe makes a lot of soup so if you do end up losing most of it during the night, you’ll have leftovers for the next day, when hopefully you can keep down sustenance.


An abundance of green tomatoes.

I scooped out the red ones and used them for something else.I have about a five pound bag of the things, which my mom donated to me after she made use of the other five pounds she’d been given and exhausted her list of possibilities. There’s only so much you can do with green tomatoes, right?

Actually, there’s lots you can do. You can make relish, cake, pie, and even mincemeat out of green tomatoes – things that all probably evolved out of necessity, once first frost loomed and people realized that their plants were still loaded with unripe tomatoes.

They act a lot like apples, these tomatoes, and you can use them like that if you want. But I like things to act like the things that they are – so how best to play up the taste of an unripe tomato? I like fried green tomatoes, and they’re great if you roast them low and slow and put them onto pizza. But it’s getting chilly these days, and soup is nice. I did promise you soup, though it’s probably the only promise I’ll actually follow through with this week.

Green tomato soup

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. green tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 soft, ripe avocado
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

In a soup pot, saute olive oil, onions, and tomatoes over medium heat until wilted and tomatoes are mostly dissolved, ten minutes, scraping the browned bits from the bottom as you go.

Add your garlic, jalapeño peppers, and spices, stir to combine, and add the liquids. Simmer for five minutes, and then add the avocado and lemon juice and blend with a hand blender, food processor, food mill, or other such blendy thing.

At this point, you can decide to go one of two ways. You can go the lazy way, which is what I did, and just leave it at that, content with the blending and the texture as is. Or you can further smooth things out by pushing the mixture through a mesh sieve, the result of which will be a velvety smooth soup fit for dinner guests or something. But you know what? If it’s just you, or even if it’s not, texture’s a good thing and it’s not like you have to chew even if you do it the first way. It’s very soupy.

Taste and adjust your seasoning as needed, and then stir in the yogurt and the cilantro. Serve topped with a drizzle of olive oil, or a sprinkling of cheddar cheese. It’s a lovely, spicy creamy, tarty soup, with a taste like ripe tomatoes, and it’s completely good for you. I’m pretty sure it cures cancer. A cold, at the very least.

Stay tuned – there will certainly be more, because I still have tons of these tomatoes. And I want to tell you about my plums, which were sticky syrupy sweet and deserve a post of their own. Happy Friday!