Summer’s end soup. August 30, 2010Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, homesteading, recipes.
Tags: soup, soup recipes, summer recipes, too many tomatoes, too many vegetables, what to do with excess produce
Silence Dogood here. Are your counters and refrigerator exploding with produce and leftovers? Mine certainly are! If you find yourself in harvest overload, do as I did and make some soup. I was going to call this “Kitchen Sink Soup,” but since it’s fairly specific to summer produce, I opted for “Summer’s End Soup” instead. However, the “everything but the kitchen sink” rule definitely applies: Use whatever you have, as long as the flavors are complementary. Soup is very forgiving!
This particular “Summer’s End Soup” came together this way: Our friend Ben and I had just gotten a countertop oven, so I could finally bake again despite the apparent demise of our ca. 1960 Caloric gas stove’s oven. (And yes, the brand name really is Caloric. Truth in advertising!) I decided to make black bean soup and cornbread, so I could test the new oven with the cornbread. But what started out as black bean soup took a dramatic turn in a different direction.
First of all, my friend Huma had given me pretty much everything in her refrigerator and freezer before leaving the country for the academic year, including a container of whole tomatoes in tomato juice. Okay, I thought, I can put those in the soup. Our heat-loving friend and fellow blog contributor Richard Saunders had stopped by with a bunch of not-so-hot peppers, knowing that OFB and I can’t take the full-scale heat he loves. I’d succumbed to a box of the big yellow-orange tomatoes that are my all-time favorites at a local farm stand, only to discover once I got home that every one of them was overripe. I had a container of leftover brown basmati rice in the fridge. I also had an extra ear of corn and a bunch of cilantro, as well as a half-carton of plain yogurt from Huma. Everything went into the soup.
By now, you might be begging me to refrain from sharing the recipe, but I’m going to do it, and here’s why: Our friend Ben and our friend Rudy both proclaimed it the best soup they’d ever eaten. (They also polished off all the cornbread, which, thank heavens, turned out fine.) Rudy very happily took home the leftover soup, leaving a disgruntled OFB eyeing me accusingly with that “charity begins at home” look. So here it is, should you want to try it—or your own version—at home.
Summer’s End Soup
4 cans black beans
1 large sweet onion (Vidalia, WallaWalla or 1015 type), diced
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 large can whole tomatoes in juice
4 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 green bell pepper, cored and diced
4 small hot peppers (Thai Red or Cayenne type), minced
1 large ear of corn, kernels cut from cob
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup plain yogurt
1 box vegetable stock, any brand
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, minced
extra-virgin olive oil
lemon juice (we especially like Key lemon juice)
black pepper to taste (we like lemon pepper)
salt to taste (we like Trocomare or RealSalt, and plenty of it)
1/2-1 teaspoon each dried basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, and summer savory, to taste
1 teaspoon-1 tablespoon each black mustardseeds and whole cumin seeds, to taste
splash Tabasco Chipotle sauce or Pickapeppa
Pour olive oil in the bottom of a large, heavy stock pot or Dutch oven (I love my LeCreuset Dutch ovens) and place over low heat. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, mustardseeds, salt or Trocomare, pepper, and dried herbs. Cook until the onions clarify, adding veggie stock as needed to prevent sticking. Add the bell pepper, hot peppers, and chopped fresh tomatoes, sauteing until the tomatoes cook down into a thick paste. (Continue to add veggie stock, a bit at a time, to prevent sticking.) Add the canned whole tomatoes and juice, mashing the tomatoes into smaller pieces with a wooden or bamboo spoon. Add the black beans, lemon juice, and cilantro.
With a potato masher, mash the beans in the pot until at least a third of them are mashed; stir well. Taste the soup-in-progress and add a splash of hot sauce if you’d like it hotter. Add the rice and corn, stirring well to mix, then the yogurt. Continue cooking on low until the soup is very thick and rich. Taste a final time and adjust seasonings if needed. Top each bowl with sour cream, shredded Cheddar, and/or fresh cilantro leaves as each person prefers.
Serve with a crisp, hearty salad or coleslaw and hot cornbread or tortillas. Chilled cubed watermelon or cantaloupe makes a delicious, light dessert after this thick, rich soup. We Southerners like our melons with salt to bring out the sweetness, but a spritz of lime juice is also great on cantaloupe, and my parents ate theirs topped with salt and pepper! Hey, whatever works.
Enjoy your own version of kitchen sink—I mean, summer’s end—soup, and get some of that stuff out of the fridge and off the counters! You’ll be glad you did.
‘Til next time,