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.

 

Advertisements

Artichoke soup

Artichoke soup by the james kitchen
Artichoke soup, a photo by the james kitchen on Flickr.
What shall I say? I love artichokes in any way possible and this is a great way to employ them in a winter warmer soup. My Mum is visiting at the moment and since we share the passion for this thistle-y thing this had to be our lunch.Artichokes from a tin add a slight lemony tang which I love in this soup, a floury potato is responsible for the creamy & velvety texture and some well-needed heartiness. No heavy cream needed – and you could treat the swirl of crème fraîche as optional but I recommend adorning your bowl with just a small dollop of crème fraîche for aesthetic reasons (and a little more lightness).

Need more reasons for this soup? Quite low in calories I might imagine, extremely low if you tweak butter, oil & crème to absolute minimums but the main attraction to me is that most of the times I have either a tin of hearts or frozen bottoms (Hello Dr Lecter) in stock and since the other ingredients are pretty much staples, I am able to whip this up quickly if the need arises. Makes a great starter to a dinner, too.

 

Artichoke soup
serves 2 as a main for lunch or 4 as a starter

1 large banana shallot or onion, chopped
1 knob of butter & 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large potato (Russet or baking), peeled & diced (literally)
1 small tin artichoke hearts in brine, replace by frozen artichoke bottoms if you like (400g/14oz, 220g/7.7oz drained weight), quartered
½ litre vegetable stock
salt & pepper
crème fraîche (optional)

 

Chop the shallot & dice the potato and quarter the artichoke hearts. Melt the butter & olive oil in a pot and sauté the shallot over medium heat until translucent. Add the potato & artichoke pieces and cover with stock. Add more if your vegetables are not covered, simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Finally blend into a velvety soup (with an immersion hand blender or in a blender) and season with salt & pepper. Add a swirl of crème fresh if you like.

 

DEUTSCH:

Artischockensuppe
für 2 als Hauptgericht oder 4 Personen als Vorspeise

1 große Bananenschalotte oder 1 Zwiebel, gehackt
1 Stückchen Butter & 1 EL Olivenöl
1 große Kartoffel (mehlig kochend), geschält & in Würfelgroße Stücke geschnitten
1 Dose (400g, 220g Abtropfgewicht) Artischockenherzen (man kann auch gefrorene Artischocken oder Böden benutzen), geviertelt
500ml Gemüsebrühe
Salz & Pfeffer
crème fraîche (optional)

Die Schalotte hacken, die Kartoffel schälen und würfeln, sowie die Artischockenherzen vierteln. Butter und Öl in einem Topf schmelzen, die Schalotte darin glasig andünsten. Dann die Kartoffel- und Artischockenstücke hinzugeben und mit Brühe begießen, eventuell etwas mehr hinzugeben falls das Gemüse nicht ganz bedeckt ist. 15-20 Minuten köcheln lassen, dann zu einer samtigen Suppe pürieren (entweder mit einem Pürierstab oder im Blender) und mit Salz & Pfeffer würzen. Mit einem Löffel crème fraîche verfeinern.

Triple pumpkin soup

Triple pumpkin soup by the james kitchen
Triple pumpkin soup, a photo by the james kitchen on Flickr.
This is a great autumn soup. It is warming and nourishing, a little smoky and a little spicy. The right starter for a dinner or good on its own as a light supper. The austrian pumpkin seed oil adds a roasted flavour and a serious smoky while the pumpkin seeds provide a bite. The Steiermark region in Austria is very well renown for their pumpkin products, especially the oil and the big, dark green seeds of their very own variety of pumpkin, the Styrian oil pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo subsp. pepo var. ‘styriaca’, also known as var. oleifera). Anyway, it has an aquired intense taste, that some people might need to get used to first. Once it has clicked you never want a pumpkin soup or other things without it. Use sparingly though, in a vinaigrette it tends to overpower everything.
Triple pumpkin soup
1 Hokkaido pumpkin
1-2 shallots
butter
1 liter chicken or vegetable broth (made from scratch or a good stock cube)
salt, white pepper, piment d’espelette
nutmeg
pumpkin seed oil
pumpkin seeds (big ones or pepitas, if you have those)
crème fraîche if desired
Halve the Hokkaido, remove seeds and peel. Cut roughly into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes and chop the shallots. Melt a generous knob of butter in a sauce pan and sauté the shallots untile they have become soft. Add the pumpkin pieces, stir around and add a lid to the pan. Stir from time to time. After about 10 to 20 minutes the pumpkin has become so soft that it could be smashed with a spoon. Puree in a blender, adding a bit of broth if need. Return to the sauce pan and heat up, adding enough broth until the right consistency is reached. Season with grated nutmeg, salt, white pepper, a pinch of piment d’espelette and a lug of pumpkin seed oil. To serve: sprinkle each bowl of soup with pumpkin seeds, let everyone pour their own pumpkin seed oil and add a spoon of crème fraîche if wanted.