Hearty Winter Recipes

Homestead garden-friendly recipes based on home-canned tomato concentrate including tomato soup, clam chowder, winter minestrone, Swiss steak, beef stew, chili, and Italian sauce.
By Dorothy Buccieri
November/December 1975
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That spring, after a winter of watery chili and seeds in my teeth, I packed my gourmet cookbooks off to a rummage sale and went from farm to farm drinking coffee and copying recipes based on the facts of country life.

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Tomatoes — being easy to grow and high in food value — are found in most homestead gardens . . . including ours. Our first year in the country we set out 48 plants and had all the fruit we could eat raw, with 8 bushels left over to can for the winter. Now, there's no trick to putting up tomatoes . . . but cooking with the product is something else again.

Garden-Friendly Hearty Winter Recipes

I pored through my cookbooks, only to find that all the recipes I wanted to try started out, "Take a can of tomato paste" (a substance which my home-canned fruit didn't resemble in any way). That spring, after a winter of watery chili and seeds in my teeth, I packed my gourmet cookbooks off to a rummage sale and went from farm to farm drinking coffee and copying recipes based on the facts of country life. Those superwomen in the woods gave freely of their knowledge on anything from hazelnuts to beekeeping . . . and one day, while she showed me how to cut up a chicken for freezing, a neighbor solved my tomato problem with the following formula:

Tomato Concentrate Recipe

7 quarts of tomatoes, cut in eighths
7 stalks of celery
4 onions
7 stalks of parsley
7 bay leaves
4 cloves
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup of salt
7 tablespoons of flour
7 tablespoons of soft butter

Combine the tomatoes, celery, onions, and parsley with the spices and boil until the vegetables are soft. Add the sugar and put the contents of the pan through a food mill. Then blend the salt, flour, and butter, stir the paste into the tomato mixture, bring the concentrate to a full boil, and can it in pint jars.

The uses of this concentrate are unlimited. You'll probably find plenty of your own . . . but here are some of ours to get you started:

Tomato Soup Recipe

1 pint of concentrate
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 pints of milk

Warm the concentrate, add the baking soda, heat the milk in a separate pan, and stir it into the tomato mix when both liquids are hot.

Clam Chowder Recipe

1 recipe of tomato soup (above)
2 cups of clams
1 large potato, diced
1 or 2 carrots, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bunch of celery leaves, chopped

Mix all the ingredients and simmer the chowder 20 minutes.

Winter Minestrone Recipe

1 pint of concentrate
3 cups mixed dried beans and peas
1 quart cold water
1 handful of broken spaghetti
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon oregano

Cover the beans and peas with the water and soak them overnight. In the morning add the other ingredients, bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer it until the vegetables are tender.

Swiss Steak Recipe

Brown a round steak, surround the meat with cut-up potatoes, and slice a large onion over all. Sprinkle the food with salt and pepper, pour on a pint of concentrate, and bake the dish in a medium oven until the potatoes are done.

Beef Stew Recipe

1 pint of concentrate
2 pounds of cubed beef
1 pint of water
2 large potatoes, cut up
1 large onion, chopped
Peas, beans, carrots, celery, or any vegetables you have

Brown the meat in a little lard, season it with salt, and add the other ingredients. Cover the pan and simmer the stew until the beef and vegetables are tender.

Chili Recipe

1 pint of concentrate
1 pound of dried beans
1 quart of cold water
1 quart of canned tomatoes
A pinch of red pepper
Chili powder to taste
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 pounds of ground beef

Soak the beans in the water overnight. The following day add the tomatoes, concentrate, salt, and spices. Fry the onion and garlic until they're limp, add the ground beef, brown it, and combine the meat and bean mixtures. Simmer the chili until the beans are soft and the liquid thickens.

Italian Sauce Recipe

1 pint of concentrate
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1/4 cup of butter
1 quart of tomatoes, put through a food mill
2 tablespoons oregano
1 bay leaf

Fry the onion and garlic in the butter until the pieces are limp. Add the other ingredients and simmer everything, partly covered, for about 1 hour. I use this sauce in all my Italian dishes. If you want chicken cacciatore, for instance, add a handful of mushrooms to the above recipe, pour the mixture over a browned chicken, and bake the bird for 1 hour.

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