Susan S. Yeske: Recipe of the week
Plenty of flavor still in local tomatoes
August may be viewed as the primary tomato month in Bucks County and neighboring New Jersey, but there is plenty of flavor still to be enjoyed in late-summer and early autumn tomatoes.
Juicy and flavorful, some growers say they are among the vegetables that become a little sweeter once the cooler nights of September arrive.
Even in a year when fall turns chilly early, most local growers can harvest tomatoes into October and even November. A killing frost ends the season, but those are coming later and later in recent years.
So right now we can enjoy late tomatoes with the knowledge that after the frost comes, the tomatoes that will be available in supermarkets will have been raised not for flavor, but for their ability to withstand shipping long distances.
Tomatoes are still easy to find at the farms and farmer’s markets that grow and sell them. At the two adjoining Slack family farms in Forest Grove, they are plentiful, and they are still available at local farmers markets in Doylestown, Stockton and Wrightstown. And at Manoff Market Gardens in Solebury, they are thriving under a high tunnel.
Gary Manoff manages his tomatoes organically. Growing them in a tunnel keeps them free of sprays and bugs, he said and protects them from the chill up to a degree. This year he has grown traditional slicing tomatoes as well as a hybrid that has all the best characteristics of a Brandywine heirloom tomato. Brandy Boy is a Burpee Seeds offspring of the Brandywine with lots of traditional red color and flavor.
Using the high tunnel to grow has been an excellent way to extend the season, said Manoff, who with wife, Amy, soon will be planting lettuce there. “Being able to grow year-round is pretty neat,” he said.
The Manoffs have sold some of their tomatoes to local restaurants and the rest at their farm store in Solebury. With the recent warm temperatures they expect their tomatoes to continue for weeks to come.
So enjoy them while they are here, along with the other remaining summer vegetables you can find in farm markets, including sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant and summer squash.
As temperatures drop back down into the cooler digits overnight this week, we will be thinking about comfort food again. This recipe for Chunky Tomato and Bacon Soup is from “Hay Day Country Market Cookbook” by Kim Rizk of Princeton, N.J. It’s one of my favorite tomato soup recipes and it can be made with fresh or canned tomatoes.
Chunky Tomato and Bacon Soup
6 ounces thick-sliced bacon (4 or 5 strips), coarsely
1 large onion, peeled, and
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3½ pounds ripe tomatoes, cored, (or canned toma toes) coarsely chopped (8 cups chopped), with their juice
coarse (kosher) salt, to taste
1 cup chicken stock
1 small sprig fresh thyme
½ cup milk
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
Freshly-ground black pepper, to
Fresh thyme leaves, for garnish
Combine the bacon, onion and butter in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot and sauté over medium-high heat until the bacon is crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes (juice and all), and scrape up the browned bits clinging to the bottom of the pot. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
Add the stock. Working over the soup pot, strip the thyme leaves and the tender portions of the stems into the soup. Continue to simmer, partially covered, until the soup is fragrant and slightly thickened, about 25 minutes.
Stir the soup occasionally.
Stir in the milk and cream, and warm the soup over low heat for 5 minutes. Then season with additional salt, if needed, and pepper to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the extra thyme, and serve hot.
This recipe yields 6 servings.
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