2014-09-11 / From The Garden

Summer Veggie Cook Off

By Cynthia Gibson

It is hard to believe, but Labor Day has come and gone. This had to be one of the quickest summers in history, as we were waiting for the heat wave that never arrived. This time of year finds us prowling the produce aisles for inspiration. Carrots, summer squash, beets, and celery are at their peak. With the corn next to onions and freshly dug potatoes, all the perfect ingredients for a hearty corn chowder are available. For the beet lovers out there, it is time to make your first batch of Borscht and freeze some for winter.

A friend mentioned his plethora of tomatoes. A fresh tomato basil soup, chopped tomatoes and basil for pesto, or tomato pie are good uses for all those tomatoes piling up in your kitchen.

The bins of zucchini are slowly being refilled with squashes. A cold summer squash soup is delightful, easy and quick to make. The recipe was given to me years ago on the back of a paper napkin one night at a cookout. It calls for yellow summer squash, but you can substitute pumpkin, zucchini, or almost any other squash. But the color of the yellow squash soup is especially elegant, particularly when garnished with the purple flower heads from chives. I usually serve this soup cold. During the winter, however, serve it hot.

Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. All of these harvest soups, chowders, and stews are truly meals in themselves. Along with a fresh crispy, baguette you have a delicious lunch or dinner.

Keeping recipes simple and uncomplicated is imperative. Preparing soup in advance is the trick; the freezer is the repository of future dinners and lunches.

Tomato Pie

1½ cups chopped, seeded ripe
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter or
6 large fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a large frying pan, place the tomatoes, a scant 1/4 cup water, and a pinch of salt. Boil for 3 to 4 minutes, add the brown sugar and chopped basil. Stir the mixture for 2 to 3 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Place the bread crumbs in a 9-inch pie plate. Drizzle the melted butter over the crumbs. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes, or until the tomatoes are a deep brown color. Remove the pie from the oven and place on a rack to allow the crust and sugar to set–the tomato pie will be easier to slice. Serve warm, not hot. Garnish each portion with one fresh basil leaf.

Cold Summer Squash Soup

3 tbsp. butter or margarine
4 cups chopped yellow
summer squash
1 large or 2 medium white
onions, chopped
2 14-oz. cans chicken broth
2 cups light cream or milk
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Snipped chives, 1/8-inch long,
and chive flowers, for garnish

Heat the butter or margarine in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Saute the squash and onions until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the squash in very soft.

Remove the pot from the stove and let the mixture cool, then puree in batches in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the cream or milk and the nutmeg. Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, pour into chilled bowls, and garnish with the chives and chive flowers before serving.

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