Sunday, February 13, 2011

Please welcome guest blogger Vicki Delany - ta dah!

Having taken early retirement from her job as a systems analyst in the high-pressure financial world, Vicki is settling down to the rural life in bucolic, Prince Edward County, Ontario where she grows vegetables, eats tomatoes, shovels snow, and rarely wears a watch. You may not be jealous of the Canadian winter, but summer is another story.

All this talk about Valentine’s Day and chocolate inspired me to write about my one true love. Tomatoes.

We have the equivalent of a long-distance relationship, tomatoes and I. We can’t spend nearly as much time as we like together, but when we do meet up, it’s an orgy of indulgence.

I live in Ontario, Canada. Where right now several feet of snow is blocking access to my tomato patch. Because I love tomatoes in all their forms and shapes and sizes and colours, I pretty much refuse to eat what you get in the supermarket. If I can’t have my true love at his (his?) best, I’ll save myself.

Since moving to the country three years ago I’ve become a fan of heirloom tomatoes. If you don’t know what I’m talking about do yourself a favour and seek them out. Heirloom tomatoes are, as the name says, the original tomato. Not the mass-produced stuff you buy at the grocery store whose value is in longevity and easy transportation, but a real tomato valued only for its flavour. There are hundreds of varieties of tomatoes from the size of the nail on your little finger to the size of your head, and every colour from pale yellow to deep purple.

A farm near where I live called Vicki’s Veggies (no relation) specializes in organic heirloom tomatoes. Every Labour Day they have a tomato tasting. Long tables are set up in the farmyard full of bowls of tomatoes. Vicki’s also sells seeds and seedlings and last summer I ventured for the first time into growing two of her seedlings, as opposed to the normal variety from the garden store or seed catalogue I usually cultivate. Wow, they grew so much they almost took over my deck! And plentiful! They were late to ripen though and by early October I had to pick the last to bring into the house. They ripened very slowly well into December, and I was able to nibble on a cherry heirloom tomato several times a day. Bliss.

September at Chez Vicki is cooking month. I prepared tons of tomato soup and tomato sauce to freeze and see me through the winter. So these days, I’m having tomato sauce with shrimp over pasta for dinner or tomato soup for lunch. In the soup in particular the flavour of the fresh tomatoes is still outstanding.

I’d love to hear your stories of tomatoes eaten and loved.

Vicki Delany’s Tomato and Pepper Soup

You can use as many tomatoes as you have, and adjust other ingredients accordingly. Don’t worry too much about being exact.

4 lbs ripe red tomatoes

3 sweet red peppers

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp hot red chilli pepper, chopped and seeded

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tsp balsamic vinegar

2 ½ cups vegetable stock

Salt and pepper

Large handful of torn fresh basil leaves

Put large pot of water on to boil. When at a full boil add tomatoes and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from water and cool. Then peel and chop, discarding as many seeds as you can.

Grill sweet peppers under oven broiler for about 15 minutes, turning until charred on all sides. Cool and then peel and finely chop, again discarding as many seeds as you can

In saucepan heat 2 tbsp. oil; add sweet peppers, chilli peppers, salt. Cook about 5 minutes, stir in garlic, cook 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, vinegar, salt and basil. Cook 10 minutes, stir occasionally. Add stock and bring to boil. Simmer, uncovered for about 15 minutes.

Cool soup and puree in blender or food processor. If serving immediately reheat gently. Can add more basil for decoration.

The newest book in Vicki Delany’s acclaimed Constable Molly Smith series, Among the Departed, will be released on May 3rd 2011.

Vicki is also the author of the Klondike Gold Rush series (Gold Fever) and standalone novels of psychological suspense(Scare the Light Away, Burden of Memory).

The fourth Molly Smith book, Negative Image, is currently up for a CBC award for best mystery.

Visit Vicki at or catch up her on Facebook and Twitter @vickidelany. She's open to all tales of tomatoes.



  1. Looking forward to your next Constable Molly Smith book! Thanks for sharing this delicious soup with us, Vicki. The tomato sauce sounds great, too, and I applaud you for thinking ahead and freezing sauces and soups for the winter!

  2. I love your books, Vicki, and have been lucky enough to enjoy your cooking firsthand. I know this soup will be fabulous.

    Winter, schminter. Brrr. Tomato day dreams really help.


  3. Great recipe, Vicki. I can probably even make this soup (says she who seldom cooks). Love homemade soups, though and also tomatoes. In fact, those pics would look great on the wall.

    Loved Negative Image & am looking forward to Molly's next outing!

  4. This soup sounds delish, Vicki and a great way to use up all those tomatoes from the garden. Meanwhile, I'm watching all the votes you're accumulating on Canada Reads. Way to go!

  5. That soup looks fab. Bet it'll open your sinuses up! :)

  6. Oh, tomato love! Fun post and a must-make recipe! My Italian pop had an ongoing tomato growing rivalry with our neighbor. Consequently, we had big beautiful tomatoes all summer. Of course, I stupidly took them for granted as a child. Now I too sigh at the tasteless, scentless mass produced stuff in the grocery, and count the months and weeks until Jersey heirlooms make their yearly appearance in our NYC markets. Thank you for bringing back some wonderful memories for me, Vicki, and BIG congrats on your CBC award nomination for NEGATIVE IMAGE. Cheers to you!

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  7. Vicki - my husband was just about to go to the store (he's actually enjoys grocery shopping) and I had to stop him to hand him a list of ingredients for your soup. It sounds absolutely delicious!

  8. Hi Vicki, I just discovered your work and I can't wait to read Negative Image.

    That's a great soup to make on a cold winter's night.

  9. Hi Vicki nice to see you here strange but good I just got Among the Departed yesterday it will be my first read of the series. I am looking forward to read it. The soup sounds wonderful as well.

  10. Hi Vicki, I have just put my vote on your book.
    I like to encourage authors discovered through blogs like this one and like Thoughts in progress.
    I like tomatoes, but only in summer when I can buy them fresh from farms or markets. I'll keep your recipe for next summer.
    In meantime, I'll find your book and read it.
    Thanks for your post.

  11. Welcome, Vicki. Love the tomato soup recipe and the pictures of them! Wow. Enjoy Ontario!


  12. Vicki, I love this soup recipe. I'll definitely be making it next August when we have loads of tomatoes.

    Personally, I think it's a shame that we've "improved" tomatoes and apples so they hold up to transportation and look pretty at the expense of flavor. I have to wonder how soon we'll be looking for heirloom corn seeds, too. Oops, can you tell you've hit a sore spot with me?

    Which are your favorite heirloom tomatoes?

    ~ Krista

  13. This soup sounds wonderful!

    I wish I had the good sense to can tomatoes to enjoy during the winter. Instead, we rely on cherry and grape tomatoes and roast them to make them sweet and flavorful. Yummy, but not the same as fresh.

    Must print this recipe for the first crop of real toms here in Texas!

  14. Thanks all! I just got in from a long winters drive home from Michegan. No tomatoes there. Krista asked which are my favourite. At the tomato tasting the ones I liked best were Russian Prince George. Also good, Black Yum Yum and Dino Egg. For growing myself, I loved chocolate cherry. Mid-sized cherry tomatoes with a purple skin and flavour packed.

  15. Oh, tomatoes!! Although I've gotten everyone in my family to eat tomatoes -- thank you, bruschetta! -- I'm the only one here in love with them. My mom used to grow them in our back yard and I remember eating them off the vine like most people eat apples, still warm from the sun. I've been growing some here but mine are never as good as those from my childhood. Thanks for the recipe! Sounds delicious.

  16. One of the nice things about talking about food is all the childhood memories it brings back. My parents also had a tomato patch in the back yard. Which is the nice thing about the locavore movement - it's really only taking us back a generation or two to when our families had a little garden and didn't buy food that was grown in other continents.

  17. what a great recipe and nice blog vicki, I am also a tomato addict and am going to try it. good luck with the award.

  18. We'll have to introduce you to fried green tomatoes when you're in North Carolina!

  19. Thanks, Vicki. I've never heard of any of those! I'll be on the lookout for them.

    ~ Krista

  20. Freshly picked cherry tomatoes taste like warm sunshine. Even further north here in Canada's capital.

    I had a great tomato bed at my last abode. It was west facing, top-dressed with heavy doses of mushroom compost and peat moss. I think I grew Sweet Millions and I had to erect mesh from my porch railing to the porch roof to support the stalks/vines & all their bounty.

    My current yard is too shady for growth. Instead I head to the market. Last fall's bushel of roma tomatoes were halved, oven-roasted in olive oil and sea salt. Then bagged-up & into the freezer for use in casseroles, Italian dishes and soups.

  21. Yum yum. As for fried green tomatoes, msstry, I've never had them and would just love to try.

  22. I enjoy your books! And I love tomatoes as well, especially heirlooms. Thanks for the recipe.