Kitchen Wit and Wisdom: Indulge in late summer harvest

Fresh tomato soup recipe pairs nicely with slow cooker caramel poached pears.

There’s something comforting about a day of rainy weather after many weeks of dry, hot, sunny days.

Even though it is heralding the end of summer, it gives me the chance to catch up on long neglected inside chores.

It won’t be long now before the coming fall, with all its colourful splendor, will bring about a change in activities. School starts in a week. It’s all good!

Many of us are well underway drying,  pickling, canning and/or freezing up a frenzy of fruits and vegetables to be enjoyed during the coming winter months. And in the next few weeks, I’ll share some of my favourite recipes with you.

Today, however, I have a very nice fresh tomato soup recipe that Mom L.  often made on cool, rainy days in late summer. It’s very seasonal and delicious. To go with it, try this very nice pear dessert, made with fresh pears in a slow cooker.

Garden Fresh Tomato Soup

2 cups chopped carrots

2 cups chopped celery

3 cups diced onions

6 cloves garlic, minced

12 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cups water or chicken stock

2 tbsp kosher salt

2 tsp. sugar

In a large pot of boiling water, dip tomatoes for 30 seconds to one minute to easily remove skins. Plunge into cold water. Skin and seed tomatoes; save in separate bowl.

Rough chop all the vegetables. It doesn’t matter what they look like because the soup will be blended later, but make sure the carrots, onions and celery are all about the same size so they cook at the same rate.

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil. Add in the carrots, celery and onions and cook until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook another five minutes, but don’t let the vegetables brown. Add in the tomatoes and water or chicken stock. Allow to simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and the carrots are soft. Turn off the heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Puree the soup, either with a stick blender or in batches in a conventional blender. Once the soup is all pureed, put it back into the pot and add the salt and sugar to taste.

Even though tomatoes are often very ripe and sweet, I almost always add a couple of teaspoons of sugar to tomato soup or sauce because it helps balance out the acidity of the tomatoes and brings out the natural sweetness.

To serve, reheat the soup.


Slow-Cooker Caramel Poached Pears

1 -1/2 cups dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon grated ginger

2 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

6 Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and halved (any pear will work)

1 pint vanilla ice cream

In the bowl of the slow cooker, combine the sugar, ginger, and butter. Add the pears and gently toss to coat. Arrange the pears cut-side down. Set the slow cooker to high and cook, covered, until the pears are tender and easily pierced with the tip of a knife, about one-to-two hours.

Divide the pears and ice cream among individual bowls and drizzle with the sauce.

Note: If you don’t have a slow cooker, heat the oven to 325° F. Follow the recipe above using a Dutch oven or casserole. Bake, covered, turning once, until the pears are tender and easily pierced with the tip of a knife, one-to- two hours.

— Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime cooking columnist.