Sunday Column: Husband’s Homemade Garden Tomato Soup

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The weather’s getting cooler, the leaves are changing and the tomato crop is ripening. Fall is in the air and that means sweaters and boots and soups for supper.

It’s perfect timing for the last few months of this pregnancy. I might as well load up on cream based broth and hearty ingredients accompanied by thick slices of bread or cheese sandwiches while it’s perfectly acceptable for my waistline to be thickening and my wardrobe consists of plenty of stretchy pants.

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So we’ve kicked soup season off right around here by visiting the garden and revisiting the homemade tomato soup recipe Husband concocted during the first fall  back home.

After a few years I think this September soup is a tradition now. I’ve shared the step by step, photographic journey documented in the tiny kitchen of the old ranch house on my blog every year, but this year I thought it was time I put it in the papers so the whole state would get a chance to do something really great with their tomato crop.

And last night we made it again, just shifting the ingredients a bit (celery salt instead of celery seed and skipping the dill weed because I couldn’t find it in the mess of my spice cabinet) and it turned out just lovely, just like it does every year. Little Sister was over to help me with a project, we called up mom and Pops and Husband started making up some sort of spectacular ham and cheese sandwich with like four different cheeses and we had ourselves a little Sunday feast.

And now I’m going to have to have him make those sandwiches again so I can follow him around and write that shit down, because well, we all need more versions of the grilled cheese in our lives…

So cheers to growing babies, waistlines and tomatoes. I hope you give yourself a chance to stir up this soup and sit down and enjoy it with the people (and a sandwich) you love.

Coming Home: Husband’s kitchen skills and
heavy cream make most of tomato crop
by Jessie Veeder

9-27-15
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com 

There are many things I like about our new season — more cool days, changing colors and cozy sweaters, and less bugs, lawn mowing and sweat.

Also, recently, fall means cool air coming in from the open windows at night and more reasons to steal my husband’s big flannels from his closet on my way out the door to take photographs before the sun sets on this quickly changing season.

Yes, these longer nights have their benefits. Like, my husband and I will be seeing a little more of each other across the supper table these days because supper time isn’t being ignored while we’re out in the barnyard or in the pasture somewhere squeezing every minute of sunlight from the day.

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And more time at the supper table means more time spent in the kitchen with the man I married who happens to be really good at cooking things like homemade noodles and casseroles and German heritage dishes and other things that require a large dollop of butter and an even bigger swig of heavy whipping cream — a requirement, I guess, if we want to pad up our rear ends in preparation for a long cold winter.

And it’s no coincidence that soup season comes rolling at the same time the tomato crop starts turning red, which only means that the man has been forced to come up with a delicious way to celebrate them.

And when I say forced, I mean “gently” persuaded by a growing pile of ripening tomatoes on the kitchen counter and a pregnant wife declaring that she’s starving over here.

So to honor it all, the changing season, my tomato crop, unwavering appetite, affinity for heavy whipping cream and my husband’s kitchen skills, I would like to share a recipe he concocted during our first autumn spent back at the ranch.

After finding me in the kitchen stomping, whining and nearly losing an eye to a jalapeño pepper after my first attempt at the age-old-tradition of salsa making, only to clean it all up, put my hands on my hips, reach for my goggles and declare that I was now going to attempt tomato soup — 8 p.m. — I think he felt the need to run interference.

And so I ditched the goggles, picked up a pen and followed him around the kitchen as he whipped up a little piece of heaven right there on the very same table where I was nearly murdered by that jalapeño pepper.

And I’m so glad that I did, because the thing with my husband’s cooking is that it’s all in his head, like a story or a song. If it’s not written down, the melody might change a bit or the plot might thicken sooner the next time around.

But I captured it in its original perfection and now we make it a tradition year after year.

‘Tis the season! May your tomatoes never be stranded again. Enjoy!

Cowboy’s Garden Tomato Soup

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup (about 3 medium carrots) diced
  • ¼ of a large purple onion, diced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 12-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped chives
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1½ cups heavy whipping cream (room temperature)

Directions

In a large soup pot add the diced tomatoes, carrots, onion and garlic to ¼ cup water and simmer on low for about 5 to 7 minutes or until the tomatoes start to gently boil. Stir in the tomato sauce, butter, seasonings and bouillon cubes and simmer the soup on low, allowing the onions and carrots to cook, about 30 minutes.

Once the vegetables are cooked through, slowly stir in the heavy whipping cream and say “M’m! M’m! Good!” while Campbell sobs silently to himself.

Heat (don’t boil) for a few minutes, serve it up and have yourself a happy and well-fed fall.

The tomatoes are ripe and you should make this soup.

It’s tomato season and I’ve got myself a batch of good lookin’ romas.

To honor their deliciousness and the end of the garden season, I resurrected a little recipe my husband concocted last fall. He calls it Garden Tomato Soup.

I call it heaven in a bowl.

I mean, who could argue with fresh garden tomatoes boiled in a buttery/cream/seasoned broth?

Not this girl.

 

So on this Monday I invite you to revisit this recipe, then visit your garden (or your neighbor’s garden) and make yourself a batch of Husband’s Homemade Garden Tomato Soup…and make your week.

Click here for the entire Cowboy Kitchen Garden Vegetable Soup Recipe Experience…

Peace, love and vegetables,

Jessie

Cowboy Cooks Garden Tomato Soup

Ok speaking of tomatoes…(because we were speaking of tomatoes weren’t we?) I am so excited to share with you some news I’ve been waiting for all summer while we grilled burgers outside at 10pm because we just got in and the sun hadn’t set yet. I love those days. I do.  And I love burgers, what girl doesn’t? But as the summer winds down and the days get shorter the one thing that keeps me from whining like a little girl who wants to stay up past her bedtime is this: longer nights divided by more Cowboy time in the kitchen = rich, hearty food that tastes like heaven…which results in a little something to take the edge off the cooler weather and inevitable winter…oh, and a little extra padding on my rear-end to help keep me warm.

Yes, cream and butter and hearty seasonings have blown back into my life with the autumn wind and I’m in the market for bigger stretchy pants because, you guessed it…

Cowboy’s cute butt is back in the kitchen…

And here he is, with his favorite ingredient: heavy whipping cream

and this time he’s outdone himself.

Now, I don’t like to push the man. Really I don’t. He has been busy this summer working on getting our new house squared away, building me picture frames, chasing cows around, fixing things I’ve recently broken, and, you know, working. So I haven’t asked him if he has any new recipes brewing up there under his hat. I haven’t mentioned to him that I am sstttaarrvvinng over here.  No I haven’t. But this weekend as he watched his dearly beloved sob and stomp and whine and worry and nearly lose an eye as she tackled the age-old tradition of vegetable canning only to clean it all up, put her hands on her hips, reach for her goggles and declare that she was now going to attempt tomato soup…at 6 pm…I think he felt the need to run interference.

Because he must have been starving too…and he couldn’t wait until 3 am to enjoy his wife’s amateur tomato soup attempt.

So last Sunday Cowboy swooped in and rescued his maiden in fleece pants from her overzealous self by suggesting that perhaps he could try cooking tomato soup. That maybe he had an idea for a recipe. That possibly it would be good for her to find her camera and computer and do what she does best…document it.

And boy am I glad I did. Because the thing with Cowboy’s cooking is this: it’s all in his head, like a story or a song–if it’s not written down the melody might change a bit or the plot might thicken sooner the next time around.

So I gladly handed over the metaphorical apron, grabbed my camera and notebook and watched as the man I married whipped up a little piece of heaven right there on the very same table where I was nearly murdered by a jalapeno pepper. It was a beautiful thing and I know you’re going to love it….

and I am only just a little jealous of the ease at which this man tackles life…and soup.

So grab your favorite autumn brew and those pesky tomatoes…and then grab a few more because you’re going to want to make a double batch of this stuff:

Cowboy Cooks Garden Tomato Soup

Ok, here’s what you need, gathered and deliberately documented by following Cowboy around the kitchen using the journalist skills I acquired in college, and that cute little reporter hat, pen and paper pad.

  • 3 cups diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1 cup, or 3 medium garden carrots (use more if you wanna)
  • 1/4 large purple onion
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic (I have to tell you, I was looking everywhere in this tiny kitchen for fresh garlic when I was making my salsa. I whined and dug and threw things around. Cowboy mentions he would like some garlic and it just magically appeared in the cupboard. This is my life. I get a mess, Cowboy gets a magic cupboard…anyway moving on)
  • 1 12 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp dill weed (haha, dill weed)
  • 1 Tbsp basil (fresh would be best, but I forgot to plant basil, so dried tastes great too)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh, chopped cilantro (or dried will work too)
  • 1 tsp rosemary (we had a little rosemary debate, you know, now that I am an expert. I didn’t win. But if the little rosemary seed floaters annoy you like they annoy me, just put in a 1/2 tsp)
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 (heaping) tsp chopped chives
  • 4 bouillon cubes
  • 1 stick butter (or 8 Tbsp if it makes you feel better)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream (get your cream out of the fridge before use and set it on the counter for a bit. This way, when you add it to the hot soup it will blend well.)

Step 1: Call your Pops who is home alone to invite him for supper. I mean, he was kind enough to grow these tomatoes (and carrots) for you.


Step 2: Serve you and  your cook an Autumn Ale, you know, to keep with the mood of the season. 

Octoberfest. Perfect.

Step 3: Sharpen your knives.

In Cowboy’s kitchen, this is the step that takes the longest. I mean, he has a knife briefcase. 

Really.

And in that knife briefcase lives this mamajamma.

I know this looks weird, but Cowboy tests the sharpness of his knives by attempting to shave the hair off his knuckles…just like John Wayne or something, I dunno.

I think I said something like “Holy Shit!”

Step 3: Chop and simmer the veggies

  • Dice three cups worth of garden tomatoes


and put those babies in large a pot to simmer on low while you prep the other veggies

  • Dice three garden carrots. Look at these heavenly creatures!

I especially like this one. Pops said he was holding the rest of the carrots together when he found him.

What a nice little carrot. I liked him so much I ate him.

Ok, yeah, anyway,  dice about one cup worth of carrots.

  • Now dice up 1/4 of that large, purple onion…

..sniff, sniff..please don’t cry.

  • Add the onions and carrots to the pot with the tomatoes
  • And pour in the tomato sauce
While the veggies and sauce simmer on low, move on to
 
Step 4: The seasoning
First, plop in the butter
Yup. The whole stick…or if you’d like, just 8 tablespoons.
Now, in no particular order add the seasonings to the pot, tasting and testing as you go to make sure you just love it.
1 bay leaf
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp dill weed
1 Tbsp basil
1 Tbsp fresh, chopped cilantro
1 tsp rosemary
Ground black pepper to taste
1 (heaping) tsp chopped chives
4 bouillon cubes
Beautiful.
Now let the concoction simmer this way on low for a bit.  Have some more brew. Set your table. Read Cowboy magazine, whatever. You must cook this all up, letting the flavors blend and allowing the onions and carrots to cook.
About 30 minutes.
Onward!
Step 5: The best part

Need I say more?

Once the veggies are nice and cooked, measure yourself out a heaping cup of your room temperature heavy whipping cream and slowly stir it into the soup.
Now say “mmmm….mmmmm….mmmmm….” while Campbells sobs silently to himself…
Let warm for a few minutes and…well…what you will have there people is some damn good tomater soup.
Damn good!
So waste no time…
Step 6: Serve it up!
If you want, make yourself a grilled cheese to go with it.
But honestly, you won’t want to touch that stupid sandwich. My photos in the dim lighting of my home do not do it justice.

All you will want is this soup.

Forever.

And Ever.

Amen.

A long story about a woman in fleece pants and a bunch of tomatoes…

Once upon a time in a land  far, far away there lived a woman with unruly hair, a one eyed pug, a tiny kitchen and a Pops with a garden full of tomatoes.

Now, this wild haired woman was good at some things…like the game Catch Phrase, making guacamole, eating tortilla chips and wandering among the buttes and singing songs to fields full of pretty birds, deer and wildflowers (picture Snow White, without the impractical dress and minus six or seven dwarves). She had a good life, yes indeed. She felt fulfilled living in her small cabin, waking up to a pink sky and a sun rising over the red barn and taking on a day filled with creative things, like taking photos, writing stories, playing guitar, riding horses and, well, eating guacamole. Her life was complete and organized just the way she wanted it.

Having lived in this cabin in the middle of nowhere for over a year, the woman was indeed comfortable. She had seen the summer sun, felt the snow on her tongue and watched eagerly as it melted into water in the spring sun and filled the creek beds. She had basked through two glorious summers and wound down with the wind that blew the leaves off of the trees in the fall. So when the weather began to shift,  the breeze turned crisp, the horses and the pug started to grow their long coats, and the woman’s tan skin began to fade back to its pasty white appearance, the woman with wild hair knew what was in store for her. Winter was coming and she was excited to celebrate accordingly. She took longer coffee breaks, she wore her down vest when she was out on her paint in the golden hills, she put another blanket on the bed and at night and traded in her shorts for her favorite thing in the world: fleece stretchy pants.

All was well and right in her autumn world as she sat in her recliner, feet adequately slippered, sipping on hot homemade soup and watching “Project Runway” with the surround sound engaged. Then, just as Tim Gunn was telling the latest fashion loser to “pack their needles, or sewing machine, or weird, creepy mannequin body and go,” the woman with wild hair heard someone at the door.

"Who's there?"

“Tap tap…hhheeelllooo”

She set down her soup, un-reclined, rolled her fleecy body out of her chair and went to the door.

It was her Pops. And he was carrying a giant box….

full of tomatoes…

And a really, really big and heavy looking garbage bag. …

“Hi Jess, whatcha doing?”

“oh, hi, umm, nothing. Cleaning. Yeah. Cleaning the house. Whew, been working on it all weekend,” the wild haired woman replied.

“Oh, ok. Yeah. I don’t want to interrupt that then, but I thought I’d stop by and bring you some of these tomatoes…my garden was full of them and I had to pick them before the frost…”

“Oh, ok. Yeah. Great. Tomatoes. Wow, there’s a lot of them aren’t there. Haha. Yeah. That’s a lot of salads…,” she felt her face begin to flush and her armpits go sweaty.

“Yeah,” said her Pops. “I had a great garden this year. Lots of tomatoes, and, well, say, I was thinking maybe you could do something with these. You know, like salsa or soup or something…you know how to can don’t you? I mean, that strawberry-rhubarb jam you made this spring  was pretty delicious…” He smiled a toothy grin and the woman felt an unruly curl spring out of its place in her unkempt ponytail.

She was full-on sweating now, regretting her fleece pants and recalling the overconfident, naive, head first dive approach she has used to attack every new kitchen experiment in her life…and the piece of rhubarb she’s been meaning to clean off of her ceiling for months.

Her voice came out of her lungs a few octaves higher as she replied, “Oh, sure Pops. No problem. I’ve always wanted to try canning salsa. Never had the opportunity. Look there, I could make jars and jars with that yield…and, umm, so well what’s in that giant garbage bag there?”

“Oh this?” he replied, hefting a thirty ton bag up from the ground and over his shoulder. “These here are crabapples! I picked them from the tree behind our house…”

“Oh really? I remember that tree…”

“Yeah. Your gram used to make the best crab apple jelly. I absolutely loved it. I was thinking you could try it? Don’t you think? It shouldn’t be that hard. Oh, it’s so good. Nothing better.”

The wild haired woman paused, recalling for the first time in years the sweet taste of her grandmother’s crab apple jelly on a piece of hot toast. It was delicious, there was nothing better. He was right. She could handle the thirty tons of apples–jelly she had done before without killing anyone.

But how does a giant box of tomatoes turn into restaurant style pacante sauce?

And how could she say no to a man who sees her as his only chance to taste, once again, his favorite homemade goodies?

She smiled and hefted the thirty ton bag of apples over her own shoulders as her pops set the boxes of tomatoes on the table in her quaint kitchen.

“Can’t wait,” chirped her Pops as he flew out the door.

“Me too,” whimpered the woman as she assessed the situation.

“You have not seen the last of me,” said the eliminated designer over her surround sound.

And so there she was, alone. Alone in a house filled with autumn’s harvest. Fruits of her father’s labor and a nearly 100 year old apple tree. The woman poured herself a glass of wine, accepted that television wouldn’t be an option for three to four years, sat down at the table, closed her eyes and tried her best to channel Martha Stewart…

…then woke up the next morning with a tomato stuck to her cheek and a vague memory of a dream involving Martha and a mini mansion made out of pumpkins.

She grabbed a cup of coffee and turned to the only thing she knew: Google.

Yup. She Googled it. She Googled  “tomato canning,” “salsa,” “what the hell is a hot water bath?” “can I poison relatives if I attempt to make homemade salsa without the supervision of a professional?” and “Martha, help me.”

Finding, again, no direct answers and no home phone number for Martha or Paula Dean, the woman put on her town clothes, went to work and talked to her neighbor….the same neighbor who got her out of the plum jelly mess of 2010.

And her life was saved as her lovely, experienced friend presented her with her mother’s own original tried and true salsa recipe. And as the wild haired woman marched her weary butt to the grocery store to pick up the rest of her ingredients, it occurred to her that the very recipe she had in her purse could possibly have been made by her grandmother. The two women were best friends!

Revitalized by that thought, the woman drove home, ran inside and unloaded her ingredients and set them alongside her hand-written recipe. She dove in…ignoring the fact that it was 8:30 pm on a Tuesday.

Tomatoes? She had ’em.  Onions? Check. Tomato paste, spices, celery? Yes! She even mustered up the strength to purchase two green peppers and six jalapenos–scary, scary ingredients for this pasty woman with scandinavian blood. This was going to be good. Easy. Just follow the recipe…

She boiled water and submerged the fresh, ripe tomatoes for one minute, then transferred them to ice water. And although this was a new process, this tomato peeling thing, she was getting it. She had it down. It looked like a regular tomato massacre had occurred in her kitchen. Boy, time flies when you get the hang of something, she thought to herself, because by the time she was done with step #1 it was already 11 pm. No worries, she could power through. She must! Jalapenos here she comes…wait, a minute…where were her caning jars?

Shit.

She stormed the three steps to her bedroom and laid down face first on the bed and passed out. Tomorrow was another day and she hoped the naked tomatoes could wait.

The next morning the sun rose like it always does over the red barn as the tomatoes sat chilling in the refrigerator. The woman pulled on her fleece pants and called her momma in town to ask her to bring some jars home with her. See, the woman had a big project due that day, and unfortunately that big project didn’t involve a trip to town…or the tomatoes. It was 7 pm before the woman looked up from her work to a knock on the door. It was her momma, and the jars.

Thrilled with the arrival of her final supply, the woman got to work. She mixed herself a margarita, chopped up the naked tomatoes, cut up the onions…and proceeded to weep like a baby, stepping outside every few moments to compose herself. This salsa thing was serious business. Then she moved on to the green peppers. She crinkled her brow against the sweat that always forms in response to these green vegetables. But really, it was no problem. Check. Phew. On to the jalapenos…she needed six.

Six? Really?! “Are you sure?” she muttered to herself as she examined the recipe for the sixteenth time. “I thought this woman was a Lutheran!”

But despite her questions, the wild haired woman, whose hair tends to grow larger in stressful situations, has always been one to follow directions. So onward she went, carefully cutting the foreign peppers, removing the seeds, wiping her eyes and….

“ahhhhh, my eeeyyyeees, my eeyyyyeeees, they’re burning! BUURRNNINNGG!!,” she screamed as her husband jumped six feet off the chair and appeared in the kitchen.

“What, what is it?” he asked calmly.

“Myyyy eyyyyeesss, they’re on fiiirreee,” she screamed again as she swung open the bathroom door and submerged her head under the running water of the sink.

“Good Lord, Jessie. Don’t touch your eyes when you’re cutting up peppers! Mercy, calm down,” her husband instructed as he leaned in over the sink with her.

“ugghgghghghgh,….gargle gargle….I…hateah…pepphhaaas…” she sobbed.

She sat down on the toilet as her husband examined the damage. With a clean bill of health and her characteristic determination, the woman with wild hair and blood shot eyes, returned to her work in the kitchen. She finished slicing. She finished dicing. She finished seasoning and measuring and put it all in a pot to cook while she prepared for the next step: the hot water bath.

It was now closing in on 10 pm on day three of what she was now referring to as “The Great Salsa Debacle of 2011.”

The woman reached into her cupboards, dug around and pulled out the biggest pot she owned. Her instructions clearly stated that the “jars must be submerged in the boiling water for 30 minutes to ensure that when consumed the salsa will not poison every person in your life you loved enough to gift with homemade salsa.”

She grabbed a jar, tested the depth of her biggest pot…then threw her body to the floor…

her husband handed her the phone.

She dialed…

“Hi, you’ve reached the Veeders…leave a message and we’ll call you back…” said the answering machine.

“Heelllooo, momm, are you theeerreee. I am in the middle of a canning crisis and I need a bigger…”

“Hello, yes. Jess. What do you need?”

“Oh, thank the LORD. You answered. I am in the middle of canning salsa…I need a bigger pot. I know you have one. You HAVE TO HAVE ONE!”

“It’s 10:30 at night”

“I know, I’m coming over.”

So she did. And made no apologies. The wild haired woman in fleece sweatpants with blood shot eyes got in her car and drove the mile to her mommas to get a bigger pot. She was determined and was pretty sure she was sweating jalapenos out through her skin. Sweet Martha, she was itchy. But she got her pot. She got her pot, went back home, solicited her husband’s assistance, filled the jars to the top with the peppery, tomato-ey, spicy concoction, accidentally rubbed her eyes again, ignored the sting this time, because dammit, this was getting done, submerged the jars in the water bath, put the timer on 30 minutes, sat down on the couch to watch the latest episode of “Modern Family,” dozed off, drooled a little and was startled awake by the beeping of the timer.

Thank goodness she remembered to set the timer.

And thank goodness for neighbors, mommas, husbands,  big pots and tried and true recipes.

and  for winter and a break from tomatoes.

Oh, and really…thank the Lord this story, this project, this drama has a happy ending…

Yes, once upon a time in a land  far, far away there lived a woman with unruly hair, a one eyed pug, and a tiny kitchen who thought she had her comfortable world figured out…until a box of tomatoes not-so-effortlessly turned into a shelf full of delicious, homemade salsa…and the wild haired, red eyed woman with a tomato stuck to her face into something that resembles…

the exact opposite of Martha Stewart

The End.