Too hot for soup?
Think again—it’s really just as hot eating sauced pastas, or grilled kebabs, fluffy omelets, or stir-frys. In a way, soup is lighter, less of a commitment. And yet, it can still soothe, still satisfy.
Like this soup that my cousin cooked up one evening during her visit.
It highlights the golden bounty of summer, with a couple of surprising twists: like the counterpoint of jalapeno heat and nutmeg spice. Oh, yeah.
It has a very adaptable nature, too. Cousin Cathy got her inspiration from a Jane Brody recipe that features zucchini, corn, chicken broth. On occasion, she has replaced the corn with hominy, with favorable results. While at my house, we made a few other substitutions that created a marvelous, complex layering of flavors–with minimal effort.
This year, my garden zucchini crop was a curious, abysmal failure–beautiful plants that bore almost no fruit–but my “straight-eights” produced aplenty, an easy ingredient swap. A soup with sweet yellow squash paired with farmer’s market peaches-and-cream corn roasted on the grill….
…became anchored in an earthy wash of mushroom broth. Another surprise!
In deference to the vegetarian in the house, we opted out of using chicken broth. Cathy didn’t want the inherent sweetness you find in some vegetable stocks—a little “carrot forward” she correctly thought. I had a container of organic mushroom broth in my pantry, how about using this?
Once she sauteed the onion in butter, Cathy poured in our mushroomy brown liquid–the color is not the most visually appealing, but its aroma is pleasant, almost musty, with hints of garlic. (and, that color mellows out, when you add the milk.)
The squash, corn, jalapenos all simmered briefly, imparting their good flavors, while retaining their integrity.
As I typically saute my veggies before adding the broth–caramelizing them somewhat, for deeper flavor—I was surprised, and pleased by this simpler method. It kept the texture and bite of the soup right.
A Heads-Up: The garnishing is not just for show—it plays in key role in the soup’s success. Especially the nutmeg. If you have–or can get–whole nutmeg, and grate it over the soup just before serving, you’ll be astounded by what a compelling top note of spice it brings to the mix.
Overall, you’ll find intriguing tastes at play, arrived at in quick-time. Perfect for waking up a sleepy palate in the waning summer heat.
COUSIN CATHY’S ROASTED CORN-SUMMER SQUASH SOUP adapted from Jane Brody’s Good Food Cookbook
1 small Onion, diced
1 1/2 t. Butter
2 c. Mushroom Broth
2 c. Yellow Squash, diced
2 c. Roasted Corn Kernels
2 T. chopped Jalapenos or Green Chiles
1 c. lowfat Milk
2 oz. Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
Chopped Italian Flatleaf Parsley for garnish
Fresh grated Nutmeg for garnish
Saute onion in butter until translucent, about 3 minutes.
Stir in broth, squash, corn, and chilis. Season with salt and pepper.
Bring to just under a boil, reduce heat, cover pan and cook until squash is tender, about 5 minutes.
Stir in milk and heat until hot, not boiling.
Pour into bowls, and sprinkle with cheese and parsley, and fresh grated nutmeg.