“Who knows if a well-prepared soup was not responsible for the
pneumatic pump or a poor one for a war?”
-- G. C. Lichtenberg
“I’ve never met a tomato I didn’t like.”
-- Pete “Will Rogers” Kawaratani
“Can you pick up some tomatoes today, honey?” my wife Catharine asked.
“I think I would like to make my tomato-basil soup.”
She looked at my surprised expression a moment, and then added:
“You’re right. We’ll wait until our own tomatoes are ready.”
One of life’s great pleasures is biting into a ripe tomato . . . and
only home-grown tomatoes can be enjoyed within minutes of harvest. I
dream about Catharine’s vine-ripened tomatoes during the winter, their
perfect acid and bright red color. You can’t find tomatoes like hers at
either the finest restaurants or produce stands. I would rather go
without than eat an inferior tomato.
Don’t believe the false notions that tomatoes are difficult to grow or
that home-grown are more expensive than the so-called “just picked” from
the market. It’s not true. Remember, tomatoes will never be fresher than
being picked from your own garden.
What tomatoes should you grow? Before you ready your plot, review the
Plant Man’s tomato selections. He prefers “starters” over seeds because
he’s impatient and hates to thin seedlings.
Call your favorite nursery for availability. And try my wife’s recipe.
It’s really good.
Plant Man Tomato Selections Summer 2002
Selected Variety Days to first harvest Growth habit Fruit
Beefmaster 80 Vine Quite Large VFNA Vigorous, Meaty
Beefsteak 96 Vine Large The original steak tomato
Better Boy 75 Vine Large VFNA Dependable, uniform fruit
Champion 62 Vine Large VFNT Early, big producer
Cherry 75 Vine Quite Small High yield
Early Girl 52 Vine Small VFF Early, top choice for
Jubilee 80 Vine Large A Golden-orange, low acid
Momotaro 70 Bush Medium VFN Good producer
Patio 70 Bush Sm-Med FA Best tomato for containers
Roma 76 Bush Small VFA Pear shape, Paste tomato
San Marzano 80 Vine Small A Large Plant, Paste tomato
Catharine’s Tomato-Basil Soup
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 can (28 oz.) Roma tomatoes, undrained and cut up
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup snipped fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon instant chicken bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 fresh Roma tomatoes, chopped (2 cups), divided
1 cup skim milk, divided
Combine shallots, garlic and oil in two-quart saucepan. Cook over
medium heat for 3 to 3 1/2 minutes, or until tender, stirring frequently.
Add canned tomatoes, water, basil, bouillon, sugar and pepper. Cook
for 5 1/2 to 8 minutes, or until mixture is hot and flavors are blended,
stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
Combine half of tomato mixture, two Roma tomatoes and 1/2 cup milk in
food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Set puree aside. Repeat
with remaining ingredients.
Return puree to saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes,
or until soup is hot, stirring occasionally.
Spoon into soup bowls. Serves six and tastes great. See you next time.
* Steve Kawaratani is the owner of Landscapes by Laguna Nursery. He is
married to local artist Catharine Cooper. He can be reached at (949)
497-2438 or by e-mail at email@example.com.