It’s always a sad day when the last summer tomato is picked from the garden. There are several foods that simply “taste” like summer: watermelon, hamburgers straight from the grill, corn-on-the-cob, s’mores, fresh peaches and tomatoes straight from the garden. As much as I love crisp fall days, part of me is always sad to see summer fade away.
When I worked full-time, my garden was either non-existent or neglected. Luckily, if I was able to plant tomatoes, they didn’t mind the neglect and still produced lots of beautiful red fruit. (Yes, tomatoes are actually classified as fruit!)
Being “off the merry-go-round” this summer, working from home, certainly helped my garden flourish. What a wonderful way to supplement my family’s meals, with not only fresh tomatoes, but salad greens, radishes, onion, green beans and–also picked today–acorn squash. (Although my husband gave me a funny look when I mentioned “acorn squash.” Note to self: make sure to include brown sugar and apples when baking the acorn squash.)
So today, I peeled, seeded and chopped up the final collection of Italian plum tomatoes from the garden and placed them in ziploc bags and small containers suitable for freezing. I enjoy pulling these “tastes of summer” out of my freezer through the year, adding a burst of fresh flavor to numerous dishes:
- Homemade spaghetti sauce, or as an enhancement to jarred/canned spaghetti sauce
- Steaming pots of chili
- Homemade tomato soup
- Virtually any type of canned soup
- Mexican dishes such as tacos
Along with a fresh taste of summertime, tomatoes pack a nutritious punch. According to the USDA website, just half a cup of tomatoes provide 15% of the daily recommended allowance of Vitamin A, 20% of daily recommended allowance of Vitamin C, and small amounts of iron and fiber. Tomatoes have been the subject of recent men’s health reports linking the antioxident lycopene to protection against colon cancer. So make sure the men in your life enjoy tomatoes!
One of my family’s favorite recipes calling for fresh tomatoes is Tomato and Wild Rice Soup. Maybe the word “wild” adds to its appeal, for my kids (ha ha). Anyway, it’s from the cookbook The Six O’Clock Scramble: Quick, Healthy and Delicious Dinner Recipes for Busy Families by Aviva Goldfarb. Every time I feel stuck in a rut or can’t figure out what to make for dinner, this book saves me. My kids have all picked out recipes from time-to-time and numerous friends have borrowed it for inspiration as well. We have loved every recipe we’ve tried and have used them multiple times.
So if you still have fresh tomatoes, I encourage you to take the chill off these early fall days with a delicious pot of soup. Or, substitute a can of crushed tomatoes for the fresh ones. I think home-cooked, nutritious meals are one of the best gifts we can give to our growing and active families. And soup? It’s like a warm hug…
Tomato and Wild Rice Soup
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 large carrots, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 3/4 c. wild rice
- 1 1/2 c. water
- 3 pounds fresh tomatoes (6-8 tomatoes), chopped, or a can of crushed tomatoes (28 oz.)
- 1 t. sugar
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1/4 t. pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 32 oz. chicken or vegetable broth
In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook them until they are softened, 6-8 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring it to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the rice and vegetables are tender. Remove the bay leaves before serving. If the soup is too thick, add more broth or water to thin it.
Makes 8 servings. Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 150, Total Fat 4.5g, 7%, Saturated Fat 0.5g, 3%, Cholesterol 0mg, 0%, Sodium 420mg, 18%, Total Carbohydrate 26g, 9%, Dietary Fiber 5g, 20%, Protein 5g, Sugar 9g.
May we also recommend… the following links:
The Six O’Clock Scramble website including a link for a free trial to their subscription newsletter.
Soup-er Easy Black Bean and Corn Soup – a free recipe from the Six O’Clock Scramble website. My family endorses this recipe as well!
Homemade Tomato Paste – this link will take you to my friend Jennifer’s website, Fiesta Kitchens. She is an amazing cook and photographer (a powerful combination)! And this is a surefire way to use the last of summer’s tomatoes.
Fun Facts About Vegetables – for the kids who love facts as much as my son!