Use ‘Em Up!
It’s almost here and I thought I’d better prepare all of you for it. It’s the ying to the yang of vegetable gardening. Those of you that are fortunate to have a little piece of ground to grow your own food will be very familiar with it. Perhaps you shudder a bit just to think about it. Or, if you’re like me, you lie in bed, eyes wide open, conjuring up ways to creatively sidestep it.
“It” is that deluge of fresh produce that starts to haunt every corner of your kitchen and basement, taunting you as it slowly deteriorates while you fret over and hunt out ways to use it up. By late summer, you’ve grown a tad tired of zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, peppers, and even tomatoes. Actually, I never tire of tomatoes, but I do get full before I can finish each new batch that comes off my prolific vines. I’m no psychic, but I’m pretty sure making a batch of oven-dried tomatoes is in my near future.
For now though, I found some inspiration for fresh uses over in the archives of Simply Recipes. I modified the original recipe and gave it a new name – Use ‘Em Up Cold Summer Soup! How full of promise is that title? Question is, does it live up to the hype?
Yes! This soup does indeed use up a good deal of the fresh summer bounty lying on the kitchen counter and tucked away in the crisper drawer. It gets major points for that. It also racks up points for requiring no cooking in the (typically) hottest month of the year. And, let’s not forget, the flavor. This soup is extremely light and cooling with a rush of tomato flavor that’s quickly joined by the more robust taste of the zucchini and herbs. I liked how the cucumber crunched a bit and the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce gave it some tang in a pleasant aftertaste. I’m not a huge fan of chilled soups but I found myself craving this one the next day.
Make sure to have a loaf of crusty bread on hand or some chunky homemade croutons to soak up some of the broth. It’s summer in a bowl…a bowl that saves your culinary sanity this time of the year!
p.s. – Yes, I know this is a glorified form of gazpacho.
Use ‘Em Up Cold Summer Soup
Adapted from Simply Recipes
2-3 fresh large very ripe tomatoes
1 small cucumber, seeded and chopped fine
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped fine
4 or 5 small tender Swiss chard leaves, cut into fine ribbons
2 or 3 small sorrel leaves, cut into fine ribbons
1 T. fresh basil, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 small zucchini, chopped fine
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
2 t. honey
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C. white wine vinegar
1-2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1+ C. tomato juice (in addition to the juice squeezed from the tomatoes above)
1+ C. vegetable broth
Cut tomatoes in half, squeeze out the seeds over a strainer and bowl to catch the juice. Discard the seeds and pour the juice into a large ceramic or plastic bowl. Roughly chop tomatoes and add to the bowl.
Combine remaining chopped vegetables in the bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the honey, vinegar, Worchester sauce, oil, salt and pepper. Pour over vegetable and toss. Add the vegetable broth and tomato juice, using equal parts until you reach the desired consistency. Adjust seasonings to taste. Chill overnight for best flavor. Serve with crusty bread.