Green Tomato and Tomatillo Bisque (Life-Goes-On-Lessons from the Garden)

4 Sep

I got my first inkling of disaster from the Blogosphere.

The fabulous Karen of Backroad Journal chronicled her battle with late blight in a recent post about her tomatoes. I gasped. In my myopic focus on avoiding the blossom end rot that plagued my tomatoes last year – a result of uneven watering while we were gallivanting about the island keeping the boy on the hop and too busy/tired to cause trouble — I had neglected to consider the possibility of late blight. After all, wasn’t that all done with in the catastrophic 2009 season? (It should have been done with after the Irish Potato Famine of 1845, but apparently not).

So in my diligent watering and my admiration of the big fat glossy green tomatoes hanging off my vines, I never looked at the leaves. Big effen mistake.

I ran from the computer to the plants and sure enough, wilt, brown spots etched in fluorescent yellow and greens, hairy spots on the underside. Shit, shit, shit! Late blight.


My dad and I pored over the Cornell Cooperative Extension pictures in the vain hope that we could somehow transform the blight into something else by looking and wishing, but the plants remained stubbornly, indifferently blighted. So we just carefully bagged and chopped and pulled them out, trying not to pass the stupid spores or whatever they are on to the neighborhood.

The Wasteland

I was gutted. So much care and love and anticipation and then, whammo, where once there was promise, now there are just two holes in the Earth Box. I am not much of a farmer; I am just learning, I know that. But if heartache is the measure of anything, I guess I have a farmer’s heart, because I was devastated over my poor, dear, plants.

Not failure. Potential. A call for creativity and resilience.

However, a farmer stares futility in the face all the time. The farmer dusts herself off and figures out another way. The fruit was still good, if green. So I saved what I could, soaked, washed and rinsed and considered my options.

Fortunately, pretty much at the same moment, the Blogosphere – bringer of bad tidings – had a bit of inspiration with which to console me.

My dear friend, Deborah Rivera Pittorino, chef-owner of La Cuvee at the Greenporter Hotel, in the Long Island Wine Country, had just posted a recipe for green tomato bisque on her chef’s blog.  Deborah’s soups are always fantastic – light, creamy, savory, satisfying – so I figured this was a sign from above. She did me the additional favor of mentioning something about how tomatillos would be nice too and didn’t I just have some of those from the farm?

Tomatillos: I see a heart-shape here and choose to take it as a sign

So, I quick lifted myself out of mourning the tomatoes that weren’t and focused on the tomatoes that were. And sure enough, the soup was easy to make and wonderful to eat. And I made it from my own tomatoes. Take that, blight!

Deborah’s recipe includes a tempting rancho dressing  as well as a recipe for fried green tomatoes, but then, she is a chef and I am just me. So I include links to her original recipe and encourage you to go see the wonderful seasonal things she does. Thanks to both Karen and Deborah for their impeccable timing. I will be okay. Soon.

Word to the wise: use a blonde stock. Mine was dark from onion peels and so the color was a bit less attractive than I would have liked.

Green Tomato and Tomatillo Soup

1lb of green, unripened tomatoes, freshly picked

4-5 tomatillos, husked and washed

1/2 cup of chopped white onion (the original recipe called for Vidalia)

2 to 3 cups of vegetable stock ( Click for Chef Deborah’s garden stock
or my Found Vegetable Stock. You will want it to be pale, so leave out onion peels)

1/4 cup of EVOO

Salt to taste

Rough chop the tomatoes, tomatillos, and onions. Sauté the vegetables in the oil.  Add salt to taste and set aside to cool until ready to puree. Don’t worry about the peels; they will blend right in.
You will need a blender/food processor, a ladle and a large bowl to deposit the blended soup. Do not blend all at once. Must be done in batches or it won’t be smooth.

To serve, I simply dolloped a teaspoon of nonfat plain yogurt and a few dots of sriracha on each bowl of soup. If you have more time or the inclination, click for Chef Deborah’s original recipe with rancho dressing and her fried green tomato recipe.


14 Responses to “Green Tomato and Tomatillo Bisque (Life-Goes-On-Lessons from the Garden)”

  1. Bluejellybeans September 5, 2012 at 7:23 am #

    ¡Qué pena por tus plantas, Natalia! Pero algo por lo menos pudiste aprovechar los tomates… mi primer impulso habría sido hacer tomates verdes fritos… me encantó esa película y la verdad es que nunca los he hecho 🙂

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy September 6, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

      Yo tampoco he hecho fried green tomatoes…quiza un día d estos…me parece un poco trabajoso y no tengo mucha mano para freir…

  2. Tammy September 4, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    It looks so yummy!

  3. Mad Dog September 4, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    Sorry to hear the bad news 😦 Get rid of the soil that the tomatoes were growing in, if it was in that terracotta plant container pictured.
    In my experience blight is quite common, especially in England when we get a damp summer like this one. It’s nice to see that when dealt lemons you make lemonade 😉

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy September 4, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

      Yup. Couldn’t stop my dad from throwing other soil on top; he’s rather impulsive! But we’ll sort it out. In the meantime, we’ve got loads of chard, beans, and arugula…and more to come!

      • Eha September 4, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

        I may be on the other side of the world in E Australia, but fully agree with “Mad Dog’: get rid of that soil or you will be forever frustrated with the ruddy blight!! I’ve been caught more than once and it ‘hurts’ to do the right thing, but . . .:) !

  4. Our Kitchen Inventions September 4, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    I saw Karen’s post about her tomatoes, too…and thought OMG – she has worked SO hard to get those babies ready and planted…now THIS! So sorry to hear of the fate of yours as well. But love the idea of the soup. I’ll try that with the tomatoes of ours that are not ripening. Take care! Susan

  5. Sheila Squillante September 4, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    I’m afraid mine are suffering the same fate. (Honestly, I’m afraid to look closely!) But this recipe sounds delish and, yes, takes the sting out some. Thanks!

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy September 4, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

      I know how you feel. I didn’t want to face the facts!!! Thanks for the visit!

      • Sheila Squillante September 4, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

        I shared it with another friend who is facing a similar heartbreak. Cheers!

  6. Conor Bofin September 4, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    I feel for you with the growing pains, i fI may call them that. I love your fighting spirit. We need more of it. I look forward to next year’s crop. Stay strong!

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