Given the reluctance with which I embarked on my gardening duties in the height of the summer, I was surprised by just how reluctant I was to admit that the time had come to cut down the plants and ready the greenhouse for winter. But the Chief Gardener issued the order, so we cut down the tomato plants and gathered together all the green fruit, (including one over large cucumber that had been hidden by all the foliage in that corner where all the plants got overly entwined with each other) took it into the kitchen, and wondered what we would do with it all.
The large tomatoes were wrapped in paper and stored in the ripening drawer, and the partially red ones were lined up on the window sill, but that still left us with a pile to deal with.
Now, if you search on the internet, as I did, for recipe ideas to use up all the green tomatoes, and you happen to land on blog sites, or chatty food sites, then they all preface their suggestions with comments about it being an annual question, that there are only so many fried green tomatoes any family sized group of people can eat, and that nobody much likes green tomato pickle or chutney. All of these are true of my household too.
I decided to attempt soup, on the basis that I make a lot of soup, and it’s usually from the sad vegetables left rolling around the bottom of my fridge, and that generally tastes all right, so surely I could make something delicious out of freshly picked home grown tomatoes. The soup recipes I found fell into two basic categories: an Eastern European inspired ham, onion and potato combination with a dollop of sour cream on top, and an Indian inspired curry flavoured one.
My first attempt was with bacon, onions, garlic and potatoes, all cooked in stock with the tomatoes and then whizzed up at the end. While we agreed it was a lovely colour, It was surprisingly bland. I was a bit disappointed, but at that stage it was too late to think that I should have used a more strongly flavoured smoked bacon. Instead I rescued it with a good shake of Tabasco in the pan, and a heaped teaspoon of parmesan in each bowl, and the Chief Gardener declared it a success.
Aware, from that first experiment, that the green tomatoes somehow soak up a lot of flavour, I embarked on the curry inspired second attempt with more spices. Fresh root ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, a tiny touch of chilli and curry were the base, with onion, potato and tomato, all boiled up with stock, and then finally whizzed up with half a bunch of fresh coriander. The committee agreed that this was a success, without any further refinements required. (And it was a good colour.)
(We made a cold avocado, pepper and cucumber soup with the oversized cucumber….)