One of my favorite year-round lunch or light dinner menus is a half of a club sandwich and a bowl of vegetable soup. When people think of summer recipes, they seldom think of soup. While soups are a perfect dish in the winter, they're easily a seasonal recipe with the right ingredients. And, if you think about it, we eat hot meals all the time in the summer, so why not a summer vegetable soup?
A well-balanced soup is the perfect way to highlight all the sweet, crisp flavors of freshly picked summer vegetables. Soups also are easy to prepare, grow more flavorful over several days and are simple to heat and serve.
I love using both fresh corn and the corn cob in my summer soups. Using both the corn kernels and the cob is a great way to quickly and deeply infuse the broth with flavor and create a spoonful of summer with each bite.
Corn on the cob is an essential part of a summer meal and provides many health benefits year-round. The average serving of corn on the cob has about a quarter of your daily requirement for thiamin, which helps maintain memory, as well as beta-cryptoxanthin, which aids in lung health.
Corn also is high in folic acid, which is needed for women who are taking oral contraceptives. It is a good source of fiber and thiamine, and contains fair amounts of vitamin C, magnesium, niacin and potassium. One serving size or one ear of corn has about 83 calories.
Here are some buying tips for selecting corn without removing the husk:
• Look for small, brown holes in the husk, toward the top. Those are wormholes, and indicate that the corn may be damaged.
• Feel the kernels through the husk. You want to make sure they're plump and plentiful; if you can feel holes where kernels should be, then choose another ear.
• Look for corn tassels sticking out of the top of the husk. They should be brown and sticky to the touch. If they're dry or black, then it's an old ear of corn.
• Check the color of the husk. If it's a bright green and tightly wrapped against the cob, then the corn is fresh. (In some cases, it will even feel slightly damp.)
My recipe for Summertime Vegetable Soup is the perfect showcase for fresh corn and summer vegetables. Soup in the summertime? Yes, please!
SUMMERTIME VEGETABLE SOUP
Use your choice of summer vegetables in this soup, just maintain the suggested quantity. Be sure to add the vegetables according to their texture. Firmer veggies take longer to cook and should go in the pot first. For extra richness and flavor, keep the corn cob after removing the kernels and add it to the soup broth while it simmers. Remove the cob and discard before serving.
Add softer veggies or delicate greens like Swiss chard leaves or spinach last. You can use the Swiss chard stems for added nutrients. Just sauté the chopped stems with the celery and onions.
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 carrots, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Italian or poultry seasoning, divided use
4 cups of fresh tomatoes, diced
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sugar, stevia or honey
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves or cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup of fresh sweet corn, cut off the cob
2 cups fresh green beans, ends removed and cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup peas (shelled sugar snap peas or other summer varieties)
1 large zucchini, chopped
1 cup Swiss chard (stems removed) or spinach, chopped
1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the Italian or poultry seasoning. Sauté until vegetables begin to become tender, about 3 minutes.
2. Add the corn cob, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, water, the remaining Italian or poultry seasoning, sugar, stevia or honey, ground cloves or cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Stir well and simmer over low heat about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the corn, green beans, peas, zucchini and Swiss chard or spinach. Bring soup back to a simmer and continue cooking about 10 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender — be careful not to overcook them.
4. When soup is finished cooking, add additional salt and pepper, as needed to your taste. Remove and discard the corn cob before serving. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.
5. Cool leftovers and refrigerate in an air-tight container for 3 days, or freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.