The recent weather changes are a signal that your garden's days are numbered.

If you have unripened tomatoes still on the vine, you might try this recipe for Fried Green Tomato Soup.

Although they're popular in the South, many people didn't discover fried green tomatoes until Fannie Flagg's book, "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe," was made into a 1991 movie.

Over the summer, Cynthia Wilson of Decatur, Ill., gave the dish a soupy twist in a recipe contest sponsored by Bon Appetit magazine and McCormick Gourmet Collection of Spices. Wilson's recipe took the top prize, giving her a trip to New York for the premiere of the movie "No Reservations." She also got a chance to meet Catherine Zeta-Jones, who starred as a chef in the movie.

Here's Wilson's winning recipe, as well as a classic Fried Green Tomatoes recipe:


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (1 cup)

2 large green tomatoes, coarsely chopped (3 cups)

3 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon thyme leaves (McCormick Gourmet Collection preferred)

5 twists tellicherry black peppercorns grinder (McCormick Gourmet Collection preferred)

1 cup cornbread croutons

Heat oil in two-quart saucepan. Add onion, cook and stir until softened. Add tomatoes, cook on medium-low 25 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally. Add water and simmer 30 minutes or until tomatoes are tender.

Pour half the mixture into blender container and cover. Blend until smooth. Strain and return soup to saucepan. Repeat with remaining tomato mixture. Add salt, thyme and black peppercorns; simmer 20 minutes or until slightly thickened. Serve hot or cold with cornbread croutons. Serves 4.

Cornbread croutons: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut prepared cornbread into 3/4-inch cubes. Place on baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes or until toasted. — Bon Appetit magazine, September 2007


5 green tomatoes

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk

3 cups bread crumbs

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (dried also works)

Zest of 1 orange

Vegetable oil for frying

Trim ends off each tomato, then cut in slices about 3/4-inch thick. Arrange tomatoes on a cooling rack and allow to stand 15 to 20 minutes (to drain and reduce the mush factor).

In a wide bowl, combine flour, salt and pepper. In a second bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. In a third bowl, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley and orange zest.

Heat about 1/2-inch oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge tomato slices first through the flour, lightly coating both sides. Next, drag each floured slice through the egg-milk mixture. Then place in bread crumbs, coating both sides evenly.

Fry the tomato slices two or three at a time, turning once, until golden brown. Drain on cooling rack. Serve hot. Serves 4-6. — "In Praise of Tomatoes," by Ronni Lundy (Lark Books, $19.95)

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