My Italiano juices were flowing with gusto last weekend. I bought 4 Heirloom tomato plants from the nursery and planted them in a big pot out in my herb garden. I am so excited - I am going to grow my own Heirloom tomatoes!
I have 4 different varieties and It is such a novelty seeing them in the pot all staked out and looking so lovely. I did a little research online, gave them a dose of liquid seaweed fertiliser, some mulch and I have been talking and singing to them in Italian. I don't know why I feel that tomatoes need to be talked to in Italian, but I guess my bambini will grow up with culture! (There was nothing about talking to my plants in the research by the way, it is my own little experiment).
My lust affair with tomatoes begins in New York, at the Union Square Farmers Market. I saw Heirloom tomatoes of all colours, shapes and sizes. I was smitten with the rainbow of colours and the some of the gnarly shapes some had grown into. (I hate how hybridisation has taken the charm and flavour out of our vegetables). What sold me was the taste - I can't remember the last time I tasted tomatoes so good - these were how tomatoes should be. Since then I have yearned to grow my own. After a little revamp of my potted garden it gave me the inspiration to finally get some tomatoes growing.
The labels tell me I have to wait 10 weeks to maturity. I am not sure what kind of harvest the plants will yield, but I think I am going to have a lot of fun. I just hope I don't run out of songs to sing to them.
To get me in the mood, I made some tomato soup for dinner. The tomatoes were canned, (we can't have everything!) but the soup tasty nonetheless...
1 can good quality Italian tomatoes
1 brown onion, fine dice
1 clove garlic
1-2 sticks celery
1 cup vegetable stock
Handful of basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat 1tbs olive oil in a saucepan. Add onions and garlic and fry until translucent. Add celery and fry a further 2 minutes. Add can of tomatoes and cook for 1-2 minutes to cook off the 'canned' taste. Add a pinch of sugar to cut their acidity. Add stock and let simmer for 20-30 minutes on medium heat, stirring now and then, making sure not to burn or over-reduce. Check seasoning.
Blitz with a hand blender or blender and add basil leaves. Transfer back to saucepan if necessary to reheat. Serve with Parmesan cheese and croutons.
Until next time...