Summer is “the time of the tomater” as the old folks called this beautiful and delicious berry when I was growing up at good ol’ Crothersville.
Tomato a berry? You may ask. Yes, a berry. Because it grows on a plant that is a member of the nightshade family. Not surprisingly, the seedpods of the nightshade plant look very much like miniature tomatoes.
Still, for most of us, the tomato is a very popular vegetable which graces most din-din, luncheon and breakfast tables (yes, some eat tomatoes three times a day in season), and in many ways.
However, ripe tomatoes (not to mention green ones) can be used in many ways to create tasty and wholesome dishes, and they will be found in Hoosier gardens and at veggie markets from late May into November.
As a matter of fact, if green tomatoes are picked the night before the first frost, wrapped tightly in newspaper, and stored in a cool, dark place (say a basement or old refrigerator at about 40 degrees) they probably will turn into beautiful, ripe tomatoes about Christmastime.
In the meantime, one of the tastiest tomato dishes is homemade cream of tomato soup . . . with chopped onions and mushrooms, and (gasp) dumplings (rolled or drop). And, of course, olive oil, if you do not use a meat seasoning.
Here’s my recipe for the soup:
*Note: Canned tomatoes will also work.
Stir in dumplings or noodles and cover, cooking slowly.
While mixture is bubbling slowly, stir in dumplings or noodles gradually--a few dumplings or noodles at a time.
When dumplings or noodles are in, turn heat down and allow mixture to steep, slow bubble, covered and stirred often to keep dumplings or noodles from sticking to bottom of pan.
Now, to cream your soup, in a smaller saucepan, dip out several tablespooons of the tomato juice. Over low heat, stir in flour to saturation point. When this forms as thick paste, start stirring in milk and (stirring constantly) add mild and cook until the milk is desired thickness and you have the amount of cream sauce you want. I like about as much cream sauce as I have tomato stock. If your combined cream of tomato soup (with dumplings or noodles) loses its pinkish color, stir in canned tomato juice or pulp until you achieve the color you like.
Once the tomato stock and milk sauce have been combined, cover the pan and allow soup to steam for an hour or more, stirring often to keep dumplings or noodles off the bottom of the pan.
Salt and pepper (to taste) are added throughout the cooking progress.
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