2017-08-03 / From The Garden

Tomatoes, Cukes and Cold Soups

By Cynthia Gibson

Vegetable gardens pop by the end of July, when the first tomatoes and cucumbers have arrived. These vegetables are an invitation to summer days and nights with the best tastes a garden can offer. The first cherry tomatoes of summer, along with your lettuces, are such sweet treats.

The hybrid cherry tomatoes are almost candy-like in their sugar content. Homemade cherry tomato pie would taste great, like sweet tomato leather with crust. Delicious! These tomatoes are ideal to add to a gazpacho recipe, making it even sweeter.

The sweetest of the sweet cherry tomatoes are Sun Gold, Sun Sugar, the Bumblebee and the Tiger series. They are all sugar drops and just waiting to be popped into your mouth au naturel, or with a quick twist of freshly ground Himalayan pink salt.

I have cukes growing beneath my tomato plants this year, giving them a bit of shade so they don’t overtake the raised bed, and they can climb up the tomato cages. It is great when two vegetables cohabitate and grow without crowding. Shade slows down the natural wild sprawling and climbing of cucumber vines. It also slows down production, so you do not have 30 cucumbers growing at once. If you want to make pickles, plant them in full sun.

Full-size tomatoes and heirlooms are plumping up and are also starting to ripen. In the next two weeks, tomatoes will be ready for those tasty, yet simple tomato sandwiches. A slice of tomato, a little mayonnaise, salt and pepper on the bread of your choice and you have created the taste of summer.

If your family and friends enjoy these vegetables, now is the time to make batches of blender soups that can be prepared in advance for groups of two or 12. Summer and a blender go hand in hand.

A quick no-fail gazpacho soup is always a crowd-pleaser during the summer. Just remember to have extra bottles of varying degrees of heat for guests, for there is always one in the crowd that loves inferno level heat.


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. Gazpacho or any cold soup, for that matter, is fun when served and passed around in martini glasses during cocktail hour. It removes one course from the table so you can linger over your entrée and dessert.

Gazpacho Soup

Serves 6-8

2 lbs. ripe tomatoes cut into pieces
and seeded
1 peeled garlic clove
1/2 large Spanish onion, coarsely
cut
1 green bell pepper, coarsely cut,
remove all membrane and seeds
1 medium cucumber, peeled, cut
into pieces and seeded
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup extra virgin Spanish
olive oil

Take two slices of a French baguette dunked in water, wring it out, and place it on a paper towel. The bread should be damp, not soggy.

Throw out

the water.

Place all ingredients

in a blender, including the bread. Press the button for the highest speed and puree until creamy. You should not see a seed or any pieces or chunks of tomato and cucumber.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Chill for at least two hours. The cooler the better. It will last in the refrigerator for a week.

Cucumber Soup

Serves 4

Is there any taste more refreshing than cucumber? The cucumber tea sandwich comes to mind. Simple, light and lovely. Taking a cucumber to the next level, besides in a Pimm’s Cup (great use for cucumbers) is cold cucumber soup.

1 medium white onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4-8 unpeeled, paper-thin slices of
cucumber for garnish
3 cucumbers peeled, seeded and
diced
2 1/2 cups chicken broth (Use vegetable broth for vegetarian soup)
2 tbsp. lime juice
1 tbsp. sugar
1 cup yogurt
1 tsp. fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the onion in hot oil for five minutes over medium heat, add the garlic and cucumber and cook for four more minutes. Add broth, lime juice and sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for another 20 minutes.

Remove the mixture from the heat and cool to room temperature. Place in a blender and puree. Add yogurt and dill, and puree again. Place in a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least three hours before serving. Place a thin slice of cucumber in each bowl before serving. This is a soup for the hottest day of summer.

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