A Veritable Quandary

No, this is not a review of that legendary Portland Restaurant.  I’m referring to my state of mind upon a first appraisal of my bumper crop of green tomatoes. I am learning that this is one of the benefits and challenges of a successful garden. The zucchini plight, I understand, but what about all those green tomatoes?

I dashed outside between rainstorms this past week and gathered up a big bowlful of green plum tomatoes that were still clutching onto their vines. Ever the unengaged gardener, I had to reach this point before I could fully confront the obvious: what do I do with all these green tomatoes? Now, there are the old stand-bys–like Fried Green Tomatoes or Green Tomato Pie, but they seem just a little too pedestrian for my first foray into a new and exciting food realm. Well, of course. It’s my best rainy day default: Soup.

Peppered bacon gets all the credit, because that’s what started the ball rolling. At Food Network, Emeril and I seemed to be thinking along the same lines: I imagined a sort of BLT in a bowl. This lovely bright soup is so yummy that admittedly, I had a second sampling just to make certain it was that good. Emeril suggests a drizzle of Cilantro Oil, which I passed on; it just doesn’t need any further embellishments—beyond a healthy smattering of peppered bacon.

Spicy Green Tomato Soup

Inspired by Emeril Lagasse, Food Network

2 slices pepper bacon, diced

1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 bay leaf
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
2 yellow Hungarian or banana peppers, or others such as Anaheim, or poblano, seeded and diced

1 3/4 pounds firm green tomatoes, cored and cut into eighths and chop

3 cups chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons hot sauce
In a soup pot cook the bacon until crispy, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the bacon, and drain on a paper towel. Remove all but 2 tbsp bacon fat from pot.
Add the onion to the pot and saute until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic, bay leaf and peppers, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and stock, salt and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook soup for 10 to 15 minutes or until the tomatoes soften.

Remove the bay leaf, and using a handheld blender, lightly puree the soup leaving a slight chunky texture so that ingredients are still identifiable. Stir in the lemon juice and hot sauce to taste. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls and garnish with reserved bacon. Serves 6 ~~

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