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summer soupLate in the spring, I planted a tiny garden in a flower bed in front of my apartment.  Even though the entire garden only consists of eight or nine plants, it’s been a rewarding project. After weeks of watching my plants develop and blossom, it was finally time to harvest the vegetables. My tomato plant has done exceedingly well and the zucchini has also been fruitful. Of course, when everything ripens at once you’re left with quandary of what to do with the sudden influx of vegetables.

Duh-Ta-Dun-DAH! Mark Bittman to the rescue! I’ve been loving my copy of his book, How to Cook Everything. In it, I found the perfect recipe for the veggies from my garden. The recipe is for corn, tomato, and zucchini soup with basil.  I modified it a bit to my taste but it was really ideal for my harvest.  The only thing I had to buy from the market was a few ears of corn.

Soup!

Corn, Tomato, and Zucchini Soup with Basil

  • 2 cups fresh tomatoes  (cored, peeled, seeded and chopped.)
  • 2 zucchini, diced.
  • 1 medium onion, minced.
  • 4 ears of corn.
  • 1 tbs minced garlic.
  • 1/2 cup minced basil leaves.
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock.
  • 2 tbs of butter.
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese.
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
removing corn from cob

Step One: Remove the corn from the cob and set the kernels aside.

Step Two: Pour the stock in a large pot and add the cobs to the stock. Heat over medium and let the cobs simmer in the stock while you chop the rest of the vegetables.

Step Three: Chop the zucchini, mince the garlic and onion, and set aside.

Step Four: Prepare the tomatoes. This is the trickiest part, but done correctly it’s not so bad. First, you boil enough water to cover the tomatoes. Then core each tomato by slicing a wedge around the stem and remove the hard core. Next you slice an X at the butt of the tomato. Drop the tomatoes one at a time into the boiling water for about thirty seconds. Remove from the water and peel the skin off. It should come off easily. Next slice the tomato in half around its equator. Squeeze the tomato over a bowl and use your finger to pick out the seeds.  Then roughly chop.

preparing the tomato

Step Five: Place the butter in a large skillet and turn the heat to medium. Add the onion and cook for five minutes. Then add the tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, and salt and pepper. Cook for ten more minutes and stir occasionally.

Step Six: Remove the cobs from the stock and discard. Add half the vegetables to the stock. Puree the remaining half in a food processor before adding to the stock; this thickens the soup. Cook for five minutes more minutes and then remove from heat.

Step Seven: Stir in the corn kernels, basil, parmesan cheese, and balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve!

I absolutely love this soup. The flavor is fresh and slightly sweet from the corn and basil. The fresh corn also adds a satisfying crunch.  So even though you’re eating your fresh veggies in a soup, you don’t miss out on their straight-from-the-garden crispness. This is truly one of my favorite things I’ve ever made.  Just writing about it makes me want some! I think I’ll make this again tonight. Enjoy, everyone!

I approach making soup in a similar way that I approach painting. I have a basic plan of what I want to make but most of the process is visceral. What I love about cooking is that it is a creative process. I add a dash of this or that and generally throw things in as I see fit. The result is tasty, but in the end I can never quite remember everything I did to make that particular soup.

Yesterday, I threw together a soup that was really simple and delicious. I managed to keep track of everything I put in, but these aren’t exact proportions.  When you’re cooking try to enjoy the creativity of it. Be willing to experiment, to mess up, and whip up something that is unique.

Here is a basic guideline, for a delicious black bean and chorizo soup. Add things to your taste and have fun.

  • 2 cups cooked black beans
  • 1-2 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 potato
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1/2 pound ground mexican chrorizo sausage
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

First boil the beans for an hour. Then drain the beans and add the chopped onion. Cover with water and bring to a boil, then let simmer for about 2o minutes. Add the chopped carrots, peppers, and potato and let that simmer for another 10 minutes or so. Add the chorizo and let simmer for a final 20-30 min. While you stir the soup, smash some of the black beans to thicken the soup. While you’re at it go ahead and throw in the red pepper flakes. The spices in the meat season the soup quite nicely and I found I only needed to add a little salt and pepper.

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