food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

This morning I realised we are experiencing an inexorable slide to ‘porridge weather’. All summer I have been vacillating between starting the day with berries and yogurt, poached egg with asparagus, and a breakfast bruschetta of chopped cherry tomatoes, olive oil & basil on sourdough. All very delicious and light. But this morning – without any thought behind it – I reached into the cupboard and pulled out a forlorn packet of Scottish porridge oats. Using a half and half mixture of soya milk and water, I simmered this companionable pairing before adding dried goji berries and a grating of apple. And it was heavenly. If that doesn’t say ‘autumn’ I’m not sure what does.

But it wasn’t just the instinctively pre-hibernation breakfast that signaled summer’s end. Although it doesn’t yet feel too chilly, the other omens are abundantly clear: more than the odd brown leaf on the lawn, mystery mushrooms colonising under the oak tree, a lower, moodier sky. But my most accurate harbinger is the two extra bodies on the bed. Today Mr A and I awoke to find our cats nestled and immovable among the folds of the the duvet.

Over the years we have realised that as soon as Max and Mimi pad up from the cool and serene downstairs to warm and cosy upstairs, summer is well and truly behind us. So, barring a freak heat wave (highly unlikely) it won’t be long until we fire up the central heating and start moaning about the cost of it.  Until then it is an extra layer and the comfort of cat-warmed feet.

I hope this doesn’t sound too depressing because, from a produce point of view, summer’s decline is a cook’s bonus. August is traditionally a hugely abundant and generous time of year for gardeners particularly, and plant food-lovers generally – despite the vagaries of this year’s weather. So today’s two recipes celebrate its bounty and beauty.

Some of you may have allotments and gardens brimming with the colours and textures of late summer – sun-yellow courgettes, crimson tomatoes, vermilion radishes and feathery fennel. But even if you are selecting under fluorescent lights rather than the sun’s warming rays, these recipes are perfect for highlighting and capturing the nutritional and taste essences of summer. For the soup, use your ripest, heaviest tomatoes and, for the salad, thinly slice in whatever looks, smells and tastes of summer. I have used all of the above with added broad beans (still on the go here in Scotland) for the salad, with added protein and fillip from the quinoa. As usual, adapt and make these recipes your own. No rules, just suggestions. If only life was such.

Nutrition Notes: Short and sweet – it’s all good, with oodles of most things we need. If you want more info about quinoa, here you go; Or chickpeas. Otherwise, get stuck in.

Late-Summer Salad

Quinoa provides the heft and protein, the veg give colour and abundant vitamins, and the dressing is the icing, so to speak. Subtle, yet punchy, Late-Summer Salad is more template than recipe. 

150g quinoa
80g podded broad beans, lightly cooked and skins off (here’s how if you are unsure)
100g yellow or green courgette, thinly sliced
Good handful radishes, thinly sliced
2 small sweet carrots, thinly sliced
½ fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
Good handful rocket/arugula leaves
Juice ½ lemon (about 1 ½  tbsp), plus a little extra
4 tbsp best extra virgin olive oil or rapeseed/canola oil
½ tsp agave nectar or runny honey
salt and pepper

Firstly, make up the quinoa. Rinse the grains well before cooking and ignore your packet’s cooking instructions. Trust me, unless you want quinoa porridge (which is actually quite interesting, cooked in apple juice), keep your fast simmering time to ten minutes and, with the lid still on, kill the heat and steam for a further five minutes. The ratio of quinoa to liquid that I use is 1:2. Should be perfect. When cooked the tiny buff coloured beads swell delicately and sprout a tail. That’s when you know it’s done. 

Quinoa has its own harmless bitter tasting natural pesticide on the surface. So, before you cook the quinoa pour your measured grains into a fine-mesh sieve and rinse for about 20 seconds, rubbing the grains between your fingers.  Although much of the bitterness is removed during processing it’s still wise to give it a good rinse.

Now make up your dressing by whisking the lemon, oil, honey and seasoning. Toss this through the cooked quinoa and set aside to cool for a few minutes. I like to spread it out on a metal tray to help it cool more quickly. You can do this in advance and add in the vegetables whenever you want to eat.

Using your hands or a large spoon, gently mix through all of the vegetables and the rocket, squeezing in some extra lemon. Serve immediately. This makes a great take-to-work salad.

Triple Tomato Soup

If you love tomatoes, this is the soup for you. Filled to bursting with cancer- and heart disease-fighting lycopene, it is also perfect if you have impaired tastebuds, having been successfully tried out on willing folk with just that problem.

 Although I have added in the chickpeas for protein and a different taste, feel free to leave them out if your digestion isn’t up to the fibre challenge. To add more calories or make it into a ‘cream of’ kind of soup, do just that and add cream, crème fraiche or whole milk.  And you can even have it cold, should the weather oblige.

 1 ½  tbsp olive oil
1 large mild onion, finely dice
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 medium carrot, finely diced
1 tsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped
800g ripe tomatoes, or two 400g tins
a generous pinch of caster/superfine sugar
2 tbsp tomato puree
30g semi-dried tomatoes, snipped
700ml water or light vegetable stock
400g tin of chickpeas, drained 

In a large saucepan saute the onion in warmed oil, over a low-medium heat, for 5 minutes, then add the celery, carrot and rosemary. Saute for a further 10 minutes.

If using fresh tomatoes. knick an x’ in the end of each fruit and pop them in a large bowl, covering with boiling water; leave for 1 minute. Carefully remove the tomatoes from the water and peel and discard the skin. Chop the flesh roughly. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, semi-dried tomatoes, sugar and broth or water to the pan. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer –partially covered – for 20 minutes. Add in the chickpeas and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Use a hand blender to partially puree the soup – or ladle out half the soup into a blender and process to a smooth texture before returning to the pan. Enjoy hot or cold.

15 thoughts on “Late-Summer Salad and Triple Tomato Soup

  1. Deb says:

    Oh my! Fall already? Here along the central coast of California, we are still waiting for our late, late summer! I am just now picking a few small tomatoes from my garden! I am enticed by the Triple Tomato Soup and may have to use tomatoes from the farner’s market!

    1. Well, not quite, but everything has grown astonishingly well this summer so crops are a bit more advanced. Upper 60s F already, but that’s okay by me. Enjoy your late, late summer. Hope you get to try the soup. Adjust the intensity by tweaking the semi-dried tomatoes. First batch I made was so powerful I swear I could feel the nutrients coursing through my body!

  2. Melissa says:

    I ran across a tomato soup recipe last night that had canned tomatoes, how disappointing? What’s the point? You’d use a can anyways in canned tomato soup and it’s take less time and effort. I’m glad your recipe doesn’t called for canned stuff, I’ll have to try it!

    1. Thanks Melissa. I have tinned tomatoes as an option (I like the Italian Cirio brand) but no excuse this time of year when they are so plentiful, succulent and cheap. As an American living in the UK I notice that US uses a lot more canned foods in recipes than we do here. Silly when US grows almost anything you can think of. Read my comment to Deb about tweaking the soup to your liking. Thanks for stopping by. Good luck with your studies 😀

  3. SHHHHH there WILL be a heatwave in Sep ( I hope)
    Lovely recipes as always xxx

    1. You are so right! Once everyone properly back to school & festivals pack up for another year the sun decides it fancies Edinburgh! Off to Botanics just now to defy the weather. May try Moo, per your recommendation.

  4. jackiearmstrong says:

    hi kellie, decided today i would make the tomato soup for the fam as my 16 year old boy is away to the army this week for a trainning week, hoping he hates it, so quiet in the household however the soup went down a treat even hubby enjoyed it as he is so fussy, so will be making this more often

    1. Oh poor you! You sound like you are really going to miss your son. Miss R was away for 10 days for a school thing and I was as miserable as I’ve ever been. I’m glad the soup went down well though. And picky hubby ate it – result! Add some cooked grains to it (quinoa, rice, couscous) and it will be very filling too. Thanks for your lovely comment, Jackie.

  5. jackiearmstrong says:

    i will miss him he was always a mums boy, do you know were i will get red pepper flakes? can you buy them in supermarket, none in lockerbie

    1. You should be able to get a bag in the ‘ethnic’ bit of most supermarkets or in Asian grocer. Otherwise, let me know when you are coming into Maggies & I’ll leave some for you.

  6. jackiearmstrong says:

    thank you for that kellie

  7. jackie armstrong says:

    mmmmm back on to the tomato soup love it, especially at this time of the year when it is starting to get colder, this is one of my favourite`s

    1. Awesome Jackie. And with the rain pelting down just now it would be very welcome!

      1. jackie armstrong says:

        hope your daughter is feeling better.

      2. Propped on the sofa filling in the UCAS forms…She is very bored, bless her.

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