Last week at the farmer’s market, I talked a farmer into selling me thirty pounds of “seconds” tomatoes. Seconds are tomatoes that the farmer can’t sell for full price because of imperfections of some sort, so they are often willing to sell them at a discount so they at least get something for them, if not full price. Seconds are a win-win for me and the farmer. This time of the year is the perfect time to be asking about seconds because there is typically a gluttony of tomatoes at the markets.

I only have a ceramic stove top at home, which you aren’t supposed to use for canning, so I typically can at my parent’s house or at a friend’s house. I needed to process those 30 pounds of toms in a hurry though, so I decided to go the freezer route instead. In an afternoon, I made ten quarts of marinara sauce, about eight quarts of vegetable soup and at least a gallon of tomato puree to be used in soups and sauces in the Fall and Winter. I don’t know what I love more about gardening/local produce: the taste of it fresh in the summer months or the taste of it in the middle of January when fresh local produce is virtually non-existent. Either way is delicious.

Here’s my recipe for “garbage” vegetable soup. It changes often based on what I have on hand, so feel free to play around with the ingredients based on what you have laying around.

Garbage Vegetable Soup
A Sara Original

Rough List of Ingredients
10 pounds of tomatoes
5-6 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
1 large onion, diced
5-6 carrots, roughly chopped
1 pound green beans, trimmed
4-6 ears of fresh sweet corn, shaved from the cobs
1-2 cups potatoes, cubed
2 cups beans, cooked (I used kidney beans for this batch)
3 tbsp olive oil
3-6 garlic cloves, minced (depending on how much you like garlic)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper


  1. I have a VitaMix, which might just be our best purchase ever. I just clean up the tomatoes of any bad spots, remove the cores, and plop them in the Vita Mix. It pulverizes those tomatoes until all that is left is tomato puree: no cold water baths, skin peeling, seed dumping required. Depending on what I’m making, I’ll put this mixture through a cheesecloth to drain off more of the water, but I was in a hurry on this particular day, so I skipped that step. If you don’t have a VitaMix, follow steps 3 – 7 from this helpful site to process the tomatoes.
  2. After you’ve processed the tomatoes in whatever way you choose, saute the onions, celery and carrots in the olive oil for a few minutes, just until the onions begin to turn translucent, then add the garlic and spices and cook just until you begin to smell the aroma of the garlic and spices.
  3. Add your tomato mixture to the onions and spices, and then add the remaining ingredients. Bring the soup to a boil, and then simmer at a low boil for 20-30 minutes. Test the carrots and potatoes for done-ness before serving.
  4. Like anything that I describe as “garbage,” this soup is ripe for modifications based on what you have on hand. I sometimes add quinoa or barley and change up the vegetables based on what’s in the fridge.

I’m hoping to get a few more rounds of 50+ pounds of seconds in before the end of the season.