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
basil

 

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.

 

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Cumin-chile lamb skewers with lemon yoghurt

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We ate those gorgeous spiced lamb skewers since they were on the cover of Bon Appétit’s Grilling Issue basically all through summer and haven’t stopped since. Why not, caraway & cumin are as much winter players as summer spices and their warm tones are welcome in cooler weather, just as heat & floral notes are provided by Sichuan, Aleppo and black pepper. Most importantly if you have two hurricanes, ahem babies, playing havoc with longwinded supper plans: they are super easy to prepare and quick to make (if you have your butcher debone and cut the lamb shoulder, of course, which you definitely should) and reward you with an explosion of flavour that revives the taste buds after a long, long day. Continue reading

Salad with smoked trout and pickled mustard seeds

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One of my favourite starters this year, a delicate herb salad of beautiful reds & greens supports smoked trout with piquant pickled mustard seeds – each one a tiny caviar pearl bursting with flavour. Is there a better combination than dill, trout and mustard as a start to a nice dinner, oh – did I mention quails eggs yet? Cooked to waxy-soft perfection (achievable in just 2½ minutes!) they are my favourite part of any starter. A quick but quite elegant salad with minimum hassle and no tweezers, easy to prepare in advance if you so wish and light enough not to completely fill you up before anyone has even mentioned the main course. You know, just a little something that awakens your appetite and does not extinguish it, a real appetizer. Continue reading

Baked plum porridge

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As the days get shorter I am so happy to switch to a warm breakfast again and even since I did not grow up eating porridge (or Haferbrei as the German equivalent is called) I am a total porridge-freak. I prefer a very simple, near ascetic version of oats cooked in water and some salt and not too smooth mind you, I’ve got all my teeth – but then I top it with blueberries and a little golden syrup. Bliss. Of course, on the weekend a more glamorous breakfast is called for: bring on the baked porridge / oatmeal, a concept totally new to me but I am a convert if you need a healthy and yummy breakfast dish for a few weekend guests or a stress-less brunch.

Lusciously juicy red plums not only lend their marvellous purple-pinkish and yellow colour to this baked porridge but I think their taste is transformed from a sometimes rather watery fruit to a real sweet & warm plummy plum. Add the almond studded delicately maple-sweet oatmeal with the slight tartness of the kefir, a fermented thickened milk, and a hint of lemon for a great, great breakfast dish that could please a crowd for brunch as well as just two. Continue reading

Steak & Guinness pie

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I am going to tell you a (food) love story. The protagonists are textbook romantic drama types: the beautiful heroine (me, of course) and the misunderstood, ill-reputed and much maligned British cuisine with its hidden charm & a pedigree of manifold honourable ancestors (all to be revealed in the course of the dramatic events). They have a first encounter where sparks fly: ours happened in children’s books and English literature and who could not fall in love with the descriptions of picture perfect countryside picnics, mad tea-parties or feasts in Sherwood Forest? Then, crisis! Reality came down as a hammer, literally shattering those idyllic images with really ghastly fish & chips, horrendous breakfasts, weak tea & cardboard sandwiches on my first trip to England (late 80’s) where the food lived up to the bad rep it had abroad.

Fast forward to years later (you are visualizing the movie, aren’t you?): I am married to a wonderful British husband, visiting England regularly and indulging in my love for most things British (& rhapsodizing about here), which has certainly taught me a thing or two about English food – first of all: it can be amazing. And surprising, fresh, light & startling beautiful (I only wish my husband would be a seafood fanatic as I am). There are great historic recipes (lemon posset), fantastic condiments, traditional foods, Country house cooking (kedgeree, game pie), Cream teas, iconic preserves (marmelade, chutney) & puddings, great breakfast dishes, sandwiches and sponges, really good fish & chips and and and.

It also has a great amount of comfort foods with fantastic & unexpected deep, intense flavours that belie every clichéd opinion out there. One stellar example is certainly Steak & Guinness pie. Continue reading