Corn, zucchini & tomato soup








Fresh corn tastes magical, barely cooked and cut from the cob it has an almost grassy sweet lightness that is otherwise totally lost and catapults it far, far away from possible associations with chicken feed. It only needs a minimum of dressing (butter & salt; lime & chilli; epazote) or other ingredients as company to shine like in this perfect summer salad or today’s soup. This simple dish has become an instant hit at supper time with even the most demanding of customers (small Michelin testers, only ‘slightly’ less well-mannered) and is my go-to summer soup this year.

What I originally only intended for the children is a real winner for all of us when the temperatures are high and even the thought of dinner feels like a lead weight in the stomach. Basil gives it a deserved kick and apart from salt & pepper there is no other seasoning necessary. Served lukewarm or even cold like a Gazpacho it transports well in a Thermos for a picnic or beach/pool day and can be spooned (in it’s thicker version) or sipped from cups.

Measurements or proportions are intentionally given in a lackadaisical way since the sizes of these veg can vary and I tend to use the stuff I’ve got in my veg box and anyway, who wants to fuss about a soup on a hot day?


More summer soups & salads: corn-tomato-basil salad; pea shooter, chickpea salad with cucumber, tomatoes & peppers, broad bean bruschette, lettuce cups with red pepper-lentil balls;


Corn zucchini tomato soup

Sweet corn-zucchini-tomato soup


2-3 ears of sweet corn
1 zucchino / courgette
3-6 tomatoes or 1/3 bottle tomato passata
chicken or vegetable stock
salt, pepper


Cut the corn of the cob and chop all other ingredients. Place in a saucepan with a little chicken stock to taste and cook for the briefest of time, maybe 10 minutes. Season, add freshly torn basil, puree and pass through a sieve to get rid of all the corn kernel skins for a smoother soup. Serve a thicker puree/soup for small babies and a thinner version for more adult eaters at room temperature or even cooled.



Corn-tomato-basil salad



Recipe in German at the end of this post / Das Rezept gibt es auch auf Deutsch, siehe unten.



Jenny Rosenstrach is quite stern about having this salad, no excuses. And boy, is she right! Everything is in season: sun-ripened tomatoes, the sweet corn is fresh & local and many times just pinched picked of the stalk, the dark green basil overwhelmingly fragrant. These prime ingredients only need a little dressing of oil & I think a squeeze of lime. At the utmost, perhaps a pinch of chilli for a spicy kick but that’s it and you’ve got a wonderful summer salad, a refreshing side Continue reading

Edamame salad

Edamame salad by the james kitchen
Edamame salad, a photo by the james kitchen on Flickr.


Living in California spoiled us utterly, Northern California & the Bay Area are a paradise where everything grows (except gooseberries – as I was told by Frankfurt taxi driver whose family farmed artichokes, of course, for generations around Salinas and Monterey and had tried in vain to get some decent gooseberries going) and you can still your homesickness by taking a drive through the Santa Cruz Mountains which in parts remind you of the alpine landscape, the lovely Napa Valleys vineyards & food (not enough money for the French Laundry but the gorgeous Bouchon bakery, picknick from Dean & Deluca & winetasting), Esther’s Germany Bakery for a dense, dark, seedy loaf and the German butcher on San Antonio Rd in Mountain View, where you could find leaf gelatine & Persil washing powder, Trader Joe’s with some surprise European finds and and and much more. As someone said to me, it takes about six months to feel at home and on the dot we truly did.

Wherever you live, lots of things become part of your life, your routine and your traditions. Now we are homesick for California and looking at this years Mavericks pictures does not help much. It has introduced us to many new things and I am happy to find some of them in Germany now – and we are (im)patiently waiting for others to become mainstream. Thanks to online shopping and the Frankfurt area being quite well equipped with fantastic farms, vineyards, grocers, butchers & specialty shops nearly everything is possible and one of my favourite CA food discoveries can be found in my local Asian grocer: Edamame beans. I buy them frozen in their pods and stockpile them in the freezer, they might run out, you’ll never know…

This is just a nice & simple side dish for lunch or supper, add anything from sashimi to tofu, Wiener Schnitzel, pork buns or soba noodles (my lunch the other day, coming soon) for a completely wholesome and colourful feel-good meal. You do not even have to do yoga.


Edamame salad
for 4 persons as a side

about one handful dried shiitake mushrooms
1 small bag of frozen edamame beans in their pods (great if you could get fresh; use less if you are using shelled ones, maybe 250g or  9 oz)
1 red (bell) pepper, cut into small dice
2-3 spring onions, cut into fine rings
5 tablespoons sweetcorn kernels (fresh & cooked or roasted when in season otherwise tinned or frozen)
shichimi togarashi
juice of 1 lime
toasted sesame oil
soy sauce
white or black sesame seeds, toasted in a dry pan
toasted nori, cut into mini confetti

Place the shiitake mushrooms and soak them in hot water for at least 20 minutes until soft, then drain and place in a salad bowl. Cook the edamame beans for 4 minutes if frozen (they are precooked and just need to defrost) and for about 5-6 minutes if you are using fresh. Drain & cool in ice water for a few minutes, then shell the beans and leave to cool if they are still a little bit warm. Add edamame, (bell) pepper dice, corn, spring onions to the salad bowl, season with shichimi togarashi and make a dressing from lime juice, soy sauce and toasted sesame oil. Sprinkle with nori and toasted sesame seeds.



corn with fresh epazote

Do you know epazote, the aromatic herb from Mexico that basically smells & tastes like tar or creosote? Also called Mexican tea and Wormseed.
Well, after you have brought it home, you’ll smell it from time to time and look puzzled and think it a little strange. Fascinatingly you will do that all day long. Then you will eat it and suddenly be a big fan of tar. It is an unusual and strange taste but savoury and gutsy, something that has been missing all the time. Maybe this is a coriander thing again, but I am with epazote. Apparently no black beans will ever taste acceptable without it. So far, I have not had the courage to ruin black beans for me forever.

This is a wonderful vegetable dish to go alongside the meatballs in chipotle-tomato sauce and serves 6.

Corn with epazote (Esquites)
adapted from the great Diana Kennedy’s The Essential Cuisines of Mexico

3 large ears of corn (there are only large corn varieties here, if you get smaller ones, lucky you, get more)
1 ½ tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons lard
1 teaspoon salt
fresh hot green chiles, finely chopped (I only had jalapeños)
2 heaped tablespoons chopped fresh epazote leaves

Cut each corn ear into 4cm (1/2 inches) thick rolls. Melt the fats together in a large shallow sauce pan, add the corn, salt and chiles. Cover with a lid and cook the corn for about 15 minutes until tender. Turn the corn over until all sides are slightly browned. Add the epazote for the last 3 minutes of the total time and cook with the corn.