I always feel a sense of panic at the end of September. I think it’s the waning morning light and realization that my favorite seasons are coming to an end. It’s also the end of tomato season. Good tomatoes that aren’t from far away lands (and most tomatoes from far away lands aren’t good anyways) are available for a hot minute. One day they arrive and then you blink and they’re gone until the following season. I buy as many as I can at the market and drown myself in different tomato dishes.
As someone who never though a lot about tomatoes growing up because who really thinks about tomatoes as a ten year-old, I read a book and have become an advocate for tomato education. Not openly but if tomatoes come up in conversation with various friends, I will go into a long discussion about The State of The American Tomato. The net-net is that you should not buy a tomato unless it is grown locally which then means you’re eating the tomato in the right season.
If you live on the east coast of the US or in France and you’re buying a tomato in the winter***, chances are it was picked green, filled with a gas to then slowly make it turn red by the time it reaches you. We won’t even talk about the lack of flavor. Not to mention the amount of chemicals used in conventional tomatoes and the working conditions for the people that actually pick the tomatoes. It’s all very fascinating and if you want to learn more, I recommend reading Barry Estabrook’s Tomatoland.
With all of the tomato facts that I’ve learned over time, my sense of ‘last minute tomatoes panic’ only increases as I know the few weeks we have the juicy fruit whittle down to a few days. This year, I took matters into my own hands and canned 18 kilos of organic Romas and slow-roasted ripe cocktail tomatoes which are now enjoying a long bath in olive oil, waiting for an autumn apero.
But my favorite thing I did with the tomatoes was also the easiest. Can you believe I’ve never had fresh oven-roasted tomato soup? For years in New York, I would make tomato soup from canned tomatoes. This year, thanks to a friend visiting a friend, I was finally exposed to the magic that is oven-roasted tomato soup with last minute tomatoes. The flavor of the tomatoes dances on your tongue! I was floored. Plus it only takes 35 minutes.
And when the days of ugly, heirloom beauties seems very far away, you can enjoy a bowl of hot Last Minute Tomato Soup from the batch you froze in September.
Last Minute Tomato Soup
5-6 medium sized heirloom tomatoes, sliced into chunks
2 red peppers, sliced
4-5 heads of garlic, keep skin on
Salt & Pepper to taste
4 cups of water
Parsley & Chives to garnish
1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C/ 350 F.
2. Cut the tomatoes and peppers and place on a baking sheet.
3. Drizzle with olive oil and place in oven for total of 30 minutes.
4. Add garlic to baking sheet 10 minutes later so heads roast for 20 minutes.
5. While tomatoes, peppers and garlic are roasting, get food processor ready. Also can pre-chop chives and parsley as garnish.
6. Add tomatoes and peppers to food processor.
7. Add garlic but remove skin.
8. Add 4 cups of water (I rarely use vegetable or chicken broth).
9. Add salt & pepper.
10. Process until soup is a consistency you like.
Learn more about the fight for fair labor for America’s tomato workers via the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.
***One caveat to this is of course is if you live in warmer climates that are conducive to growing tomatoes in the winter months. Also, Lady Moon Farms‘ tomatoes are grown in Florida in the winter, are picked red and still fresh when they reach the stores in the north-east. I’m biased but I can be!