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.