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.



Zucchini-onion tian & zucchini salad









Zucchini glut and how to cope

Every year there is the inevitable zucchini glut and even if we are far away from my Mum’s garden to be regular recipients of said glut our weekly veg box can be trusted to contain some sort of courgette (aka zucchini or squash). So, time to hastily add a few zucchini recipes that require minimum effort and work since leisure time for lengthy prep or delicate tweezer action suddenly has become a rare luxury in this house, wonder why…

First a simple zucchini and onion tian, a Provençal gratin where I veer away (just a little) from tradition by arranging the vegetable slices in a fan rather than fitting them snug upright in the namesake earthenware dish. It looks pretty and shortens the cooking time considerably – these days a necessary requirement of any dish we’ll have. Thyme adds its irresistible resin perfume reminiscent of the Provençal hills and makes this a great side dish to lamb (little cumin coated lamb brochettes are my latest favourite) or a grilled fish like sea bass.

Secondly, a light summer salad and absolute of mine: thin zucchini slices in a lemony dressing. Even when made ahead of time zucchini keep a firmer texture and some bite unlike the similar tasting cucumber would. I shave long ribbons of small green and yellow courgettes (no big squashes here) with a mandolin or vegetable peeler and dress these courgette pappardelle quite simply with lemon juice, oil, salt & pepper. You can’t get a lighter but substantial salad that lends itself to any main dish, said lamb brochettes again a firm contender these days. The recipe for those should come soon (hopefully) but I’ll have to make them again since I am much too greedy hungry these days and wolf anything down in record time (in the spirit of ‘Eating-while-it’s-hot’).



zucchini-onion tian

Zucchini-onion tian

Feeds 2-3 people as a side dish. Loosely after Stéphane Reynaud.


2-3 medium Zucchini
3 small onions
a few sprigs of thyme
olive oil
salt & pepper


Preheat the oven to 180°C / 375° F.

Cut zucchini into 5mm rounds, onions into slightly thinner slices. Arrange alternately in an ovenproof dish big enough to have a slanting fan of zucchini & onion slices rather than them being tightly packed like a roll of coins. Place thyme sprigs in the gaps, sprinkle with a generous splash of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are cooked and slightly browned around the edges.





Zucchini salad


Thin green & yellow courgettes / zucchini
lemon juice
olive oil
salt & pepper


Shave thin slices of zucchini / courgettes with a mandolin or vegetable peeler and dress with lemon juice, olive oil, salt & pepper to taste.




Deutsche Rezepte:

Zwei Zucchinigerichte um der reichen Zucchiniernte Herr zu werden. Beide, ein leckeres Gratin und ein frischer Salat, schmecken sehr gut zu kleinen Lammspießchen, deren Rezept (hoffentlich) bald hier erscheint.


courgette-onion gratin


Für ca. 2-3 Personen als Beilage. Inspiriert von Stéphane Reynaud


2-3 mittelgroße Zucchini
3 kleine Zwiebeln
einige Zweiglein Thymian
Salz & Pfeffer


Backofen auf 180°C vorheizen.

Zucchini in dicke Scheiben schneiden, die Zwiebeln etwas dünner. Abwechselnd in einer ofenfesten Form fächerartig schichten (und nicht wie üblich für eine Tian diese dicht an dicht wie eine Rolle Münzen). Thymianzweige in die Zwischenräume legen, großzügig mit Olivenöl beträufeln und mit Salz & Pfeffer würzen. 20-30 Minuten backen bis das Gemüse gegart ist und an den Rändern leicht gebräunt ist.






Dünne grüne & gelbe Zucchini
Salz & Pfeffer


Die Zucchini in dünne Scheiben hobeln (geht am besten mit einer Mandoline, aber auch einem Gemüsehobel oder –schäler) und mit Zitronensaft, Olivenöl, Salz & Pfeffer anmachen.



Zucchini beignets with chive-lemon yoghurt


We are inundated by a glut of zucchini and facing something of the usual dilemma what to do with them. It wasn’t really planned to be like that: I did not get a wheelbarrow full from a generous neighbour neither has my Mum been to visit with the bounty of her garden but I went to the store, loaded the basket and consciously bought the whole 3+ kg (and hauled it home) and was about to start a major pickling session. Well, my husband came home, sighed heavily while staring with blank eyes at the tiny mountain for minutes before he asked with a hollow, croaky (we have a cold) but strangely calming (the crazy?) voice whether we really needed half a ton of zucchini pickles? Nope, maybe not. He has a point.

So, here I am, with my self-inflicted zucchini glut and neither very sad about nor repented of it: Continue reading

Mexican meatballs in chipotle-tomato sauce

Something spicy and thoroughly warming for chilly November evenings: moorish meatballs which have an extra vegetable bonus hidden inside. But this is no sneaky way of hiding vitamins, I found that they add extra moisture and lightness to the meatballs which I will try out soon in other combinations. Cooked in this – admittedly – quite spicy sauce make them a real winter warmer. You can reduce the amount of chiles chipotles en adobo in the sauce and start with one or two and adjust the amount to your taste.

We still remember the first time I brought a tin home from my favourite Mexican market in Sunnyvale, CA (former home of Atari) and eating them as pickles. Well, don’t if you are not a serious chili-eater. Omitting them from the sauce or replacing them would be a mistake though. They provide a smoky, dusky, spicy, mesquite flavour and an instant depth to the sauce which is the real warmer in this dish.

And if you are in the market for trying something new, pick up some epazote at the same time you are buying the chiles for Esquites (corn cooked with epazote) to go with the meatballs.

Mexican meatballs in chipotle-tomato sauce
adapted from Diana Kennedy’s The Essential Cuisines of Mexico

340g (12 oz) ground beef
340g (12 oz) ground pork
1 medium or 2 smaller zucchini / courgettes
1medium onion
2 eggs
¼ – ½ teaspoon dried oregano (we liked a bit more)
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds (if you like, lightly toast them in a dry pan before grinding – total different flavour)
8 peppercorns
salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon)

2 tins of organic chopped tomatoes (Kennedy uses fresh tomatoes, cooked for 5 minutes)
3-4 chipotles en adobo
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
185ml (3/4 cup) chicken broth
salt & pepper

Finely chop the zucchini and the onion, grind the cumin seeds & pepper corns in a pestle & mortar. Place all the meatball ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands. Form ping-pong ball sized balls (4cm or 1½ inches), cover with cling film and keep in the fridge until needed.

Blend the tomatoes and chipotles to a smooth sauce. Heat the oil in a wide saucepan (large enough to fit all the meatballs), add the tomato-chipotle blend, bring over high heat to the boil and cook for a few minutes. Pour in the chicken broth and bring the sauce back to a simmer. Gingerly place the meatballs in the sauce, let it come back to a simmer again and close the pan with a lid. Reduce the heat and cook for about 50 minutes. Check the seasoning.

Olive pickers’ soup

While it is not extremely likely that we would have been harvesting olives tonight, I find that this hearty and warming soup transports you to a picturesque rustic countryside scenery staffed by people doing just that (at least in my imagination). It is inspired by Alice Hart’s simply fabulous – in name and in taste – Olive Pressers’ soup which we had before as it is. I would have made it the same today, only I wanted to change things (e.g. go to a more Spanish olive grove) and use up stuff which needed to go: chorizo instead of bacon, leftover beans from an opened jar and so it obviously required a new identity (some people might say I remembered the name wrongly, but what do they know).

In Germany we like a hearty soup made from pulses in Germany – it is the essence of comfort on frosty days when you have been working outside (gardening, moving, long hikes, harvest fire gatherings…or like we just did: changing a flat tire). My dad always enjoyed a hearty Ebsensuppe (pea soup, made with dried peas) and he was in his element having it made in quantities fit to feed an army (to use the German proverb here) for any gathering of the same size. He always ordered / supplied a wagonload by the THW (German Federal Agency for Technical Relief), for whom he worked for 50 years as a volunteer. This would be a soup after his taste, meaty in flavour (he would though bemoan the miniscule amount of meat in it) but would be delighted by the kale which he loved.


Olive pickers’ soup
Inspired by Alice Hart’s Friends at my table

100g (3½ oz) chorizo (leave out if you want to stay vegetarian, add a little more spice though)
olive oil (always extra virgin)
150g (5 1/3oz) chopped kale
½ small pumpkin (I used Hokkaido), diced
4-5 carrots, cut into coins
1 fennel bulb, finely sliced
2 leeks, sliced into thick rounds
2 celery sticks, chopped into half moons
2 potatoes, diced
1 zucchino, cut into half moons
400g (14oz) jar cannelini beans (it is nice to use dried beans, soaked overnight and cooked – if you can plan ahead, today I needed to use up a jar of beans; if you like some more beans with a bite in the soup, reserve some and add shortly before serving)
bouquet garni (bay leaf, a sprig of rosemary, 2-3 sage leaves)
2-3 peperoncini
2 tablespoons tomato purée
1l (a little over 1 quart or 1 pint) vegetable stock or water
(organic vegetable stock powder)
1-2 teaspoon smoked paprika
piment d’espelette (or cayenne pepper)
salt, pepper

rustic bread, Pugliese would be perfect


If you are using dried beans, soak about 200g overnight and cook the next day with a few peperoncini, salt, rosemary, thyme & bay leaf for about 1-1 ½ hours. Reserved about a third. Prepare all the vegetables in advance, wash, peel, slice, dice etc & cut the chorizo into small dice.
Heat the a few drops of olive oil in a medium dutch oven (for this amount, I used a smaller Le Creuset, but had to squeeze in the kale) or any pot you have and lightly fry the chorizo pieces. Add all the vegetables (minus reserved beans, if you have decided t do so), the herbs, the peperoncini, tomato puree and stir to mix. Pour the stock or water into the pan (no need to have everything covered), season with a little salt, pepper, stock powder (yes), cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down, stir occasionally and simmer for about 30-40 minutes. The soup should be quite thick leaning more towards a stew. Five minutes before serving add the reserved cooked beans and let them heat trough. If you are using dried beans you might want to adjust the cooking times since they might cook differently. Check the seasoning, we liked it quite spicy and smoky and added a healthy amount of smoked paprika and piment d’espelette. Remove the herb stalks and if you can find them the peperoncini.

To serve: Either with bread on the side or toast slices of bread according to the number of your crowd and rub with garlic and place at the bottom of your bowls, top with ladles of the soup. Rough shards or coarsely grated parmiggiano reggiano is another luxury.