A Taste of Autumn Soups
Giambatto and Gazpacho are a great use for your homegrown vegetables.
Summer is now over, the kids are back in school, the nights will be a little longer and a lot cooler, and that backyard garden will be ready for harvest. Being the product of immigrant grand-parents , who came to America just before the Great Depression, I have many a fond memory of picking fresh fruits and vegetables "out back" with Noni and Pa.
Our yard consisted of two pear trees, an apple tree, a peach tree, grape vines, a strawberry patch, a hot box filled with herbs and spices and just about every vegetable that could with stand a New England summer. As anyone who has ever grown a back yard garden knows, a little land grows a lot of produce. You can only "can" so many sauces, jams and piccalillis. After awhile the neighbors lock the doors and pull down the shades when they see you walking down the street with a paper bag under your arm.
There are, however, some wonderfully fresh dishes that utilize many of those backyard goodies. Two of my favorites are Giambotta, an Italian vegetable stew, and Gazpacho, a cold Mexican soup. Both these dishes are a healthy, nutritious and delicious way to convert the fruits of your labor into the bowls on your dinner table.
In a large soup pot bring 2 quarts of chicken broth to a boil. Any garden vegetable can be added to this dish but it is important to add the heartier thickest vegetables first. Start by adding diced potato, carrot, parsnip or any root vegetable. Lower the heat to a simmer then add your firmer vegetables such as pole beans, green beans, peppers, onions etc.. Try to keep the vegetables reasonably close in size. A large dice works best. Next add your softer vegetables , such as zucchini, summer squash and lots of garden tomatoes. Season to tastes with Italian seasoning or throw in some fresh chopped basil and parsley and add a few gloves of minced garlic. Simmer till tender and served with a fresh crusty bread. Delicioso!
This soup is the product of pureed vegetables. A ricer, food processer or blender will all work equally as well. Remember good food is food you like, so taste often and season as you go. First peel and seed a half dozen or so garden cucumbers. Puree them to a thick almost paste like consistency. Next do the same to about 10 large tomatoes. The skin and seeds don't bother me so I leave them. If you prefer quickly blanch your tomatoes and the skin will peel right off. Throw in a couple of jalepeno , habanero or any type of spicy pepper you happen to grow. In a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients and squeeze in the juice of three fresh limes, add a cup of finely chopped cilantro and mix well. Let the mixture chill for at least a couple of hours.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream on top and a hand full of tortilla chips.
Remember if you like it, it's good. Don't be afraid to experiment . Taste along the way and trust your taste buds.
Bob Leo is the General Manager of the Tewksbury Country Club.