Feast time

locust borer on goldenrod
locust borer on goldenrod

I’m ready to let summer go. But I’m not sure summer is quite ready to let go of us: the forecast calls for a high of 90 (32°C) tomorrow. By the weekend, they’re saying, it will grow cool again — just in time for Labor Day, our version of the holiday which the entire rest of the world celebrates on May 1 in a kind of merger with pagan rites of spring, but which we Americans use to mark the end of summer with one last vacation. Labor Day, like Memorial Day, must always fall on a Monday to give us a three-day weekend, and therefore qualifies as a kind of moveable feast. As for the feasting part, that’s pretty much an everyday thing this time of year, especially for those of us who refuse to buy fresh corn or tomatoes out of season. This is the time to gorge, to spoil ourselves with sliced tomatoes in every sandwich and fresh peaches a half-dozen times a day.

Here’s a recipe adapted from one of the Moosewood cookbooks which I made for lunch today. It uses fresh chopped tomatoes in a kind of unique way.

North African Cauliflower Soup

In a big ol’ soup kettle, saute a large chopped onion in a couple tablespoons of butter. Peel and dice two medium potatoes. Grind one tablespoon each of fennel and cumin seeds. Add potatoes, spices, and five or six cups water to the pot and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, chop up two medium heads or one large head of cauliflower (I did the former. One head was pale yellow and the other was orange). Add that to the pot along with salt to taste, plenty of fresh-ground black pepper and an optional bullion cube (vegetable or chicken).

Reduce heat, cover and simmer for half an hour. Meanwhile, get a lemon out of the fridge and go out to the garden and pick some chives, if you have any. Dice one medium fresh tomato for each soup bowl, unless you’re using really small bowls, which I don’t advise for this soup (it’s a main dish, not an appetizer). When the vegetables in the pot are good and soft, puree the soup in a blender along with two or three tablespoons of lemon juice, return to the heat briefly if you’re a hot-soup fanatic, then ladle it over the tomatoes. It should be thick and creamy. Garnish with chopped chives or scallions.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

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  1. Dave, did you add the stock or take the no stock option? Either way that sounds delicious. I’m a great lover of soups, my own favourites being Cream of Kilkenny (leek, onion, potato and cream) and Borscht.

    The end of Summer? Really? I suppose it must be. Unlike you I don’t feel quite ready to let it go, especially as last Winter was so harsh. But yesterday the rooks suddenly started to be loudest birds in the garden again, and that always means Autumn is upon us. Soon the swallows will be leaving for North Africa with the year’s crop of young. Ho hum. Time to take stock in the garden, harvest the apples and strim the overgrown and run-to-seed hedgerow weeds. The world turns.

    But down in the herbaceous borders, there’s a second crop of oriental poppies waiting to burst, if the weather is kind and permits them. A few sunny days and we could have a lovely, short-lived flash of summer red again. I think then I’ll be ready to say goodbye.

    Reply

    1. I did add a chicken bullion cube, I’ll admit. I love cream of potato soups as well (which this one sort of was, without the cream. The original recipe doesn’t even call for butter, just vegetable oil).

      I don’t know how it is in Britain, but the Penn State meterological experts say that in Central Pennsylvania, looking at average temperatures and other markers, the first of the month in which an equinox or solstice occurs is very close to the average date for the beginning of a new season. This year, our first clearly autumnal days — morning temperatures below 50F on my front porch — occured last week. But of course we’ll keep having bouts of summery weather well into October, if it’s a normal year.

      Reply

  2. Sounds delicious. The farmers’ market cauliflower is amazing right now. Could you suggest a more definitive “size” of head? Ours are all over the map. (Sounds wonderfully funny. Heh.)

    And while I don’t have many tomatoes, there are a few just right for this.

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      1. Thanks! I came back to check the recipe for tonight’s feast.

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        1. Delish! I made two little changes: Used low-sodium chicken broth in lieu of 2 of the 4 cups of liquid (no bullion needed); added 1teaspoon turmeric for color since my cauliflower was white. A keeper-recipe. Thank you!

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          1. Very sensible changes. Thanks for the report! I can see why food-blogging is such a popular online activity — it’s as if the web were designed for sharing recipes, isn’t it?


  3. Sounds yummy — I saved the recipe. One apparent typo: I did the latter — if you used two heads, you did the former.

    I make my own stock from veggie scraps and chicken bones (accumulated in the freezer) and freeze the stock in ice-cube trays. It makes a nice “secret ingredient” in all sorts of dishes, including my usual lentil & split pea stews.

    Reply

    1. Ah, you’re a more industrious chef than I am, then. Good idea to freeze it, too. (That’s not a typo; it’s a brain malfunction. But thanks for the catch in any case.)

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  4. Back to clip the recipe as I bought a huge head of cauliflower for 3 bucks at a local market.

    Thanks, again!

    Reply

    1. Good for you. We may have lost our chance to make that soup again from fresh cauliflower this year — the Amish didn’t have any this week.

      Reply

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