Late summer slurps
Anna Jones’s soups
Most years, soups – like pies, stews and crumbles – are banished for the summer before I cook them in an excited flurry about the same time as I stop wearing sandals.
In winter, I find comfort in deep bowls of vegetables that don’t require chewing. But summer soups are different. I want freshness, crunch, and zippy flavours. So many summer soups are cold, and while I do like a cold soup, I have to say I only crave it when the weather is blistering. I almost always want something warm at dinner time.
These late summer soups focus on lightness and brightness. Some days it’s a summery dal of red lentils, spiked with a heap of turmeric and finished with a brave amount of lemon juice. Other days it’s a quick tomato soup, cooked with garlic, no onion, the vines kept on until it’s blended and then finished with a lot of good olive oil.
When I do crave a cold soup, I pile the blender with a couple of scooped-out avocados, a head of fennel, a couple of spring onions, the juice of a lemon and some summer herbs, blended with a good handful of ice and drizzled again with good oil when it’s served.
There are, of course, gazpacho soups too, my favourite being a white one that’s made with almonds, grapes and bread soaked in vinegar.
This week though, it was a warm coconut soup with one of the freshest, cleanest flavour pairings I know: lemongrass and lime leaves. The next one has been made from the hero of the hour: papery husked corn on the cob (not least because its currently my little boy’s favourite vegetable) teamed up with green chilli, courgettes and crisp lettuce. The result: a soup layered with texture and freshness that cooks in an instant.
Coconut broth with buckwheat noodles, tofu and lime (on the cover)
There are some evenings when I feel like I’ve absorbed the day. The clean white of this broth whispers that all away. The coconut milk calms and soothes, the chilli boosts and wakens, and the lemongrass and lime leaves bring an unrivalled citrus freshness.
I pick up bundles of lemongrass and lime leaves whenever I see them and pop them into the freezer – they keep well and can be used from frozen. I use 100% buckwheat flour noodles – some are mixed with normal flour, which are easier to cook; if you use the 100% ones, make sure you don’t overcook them and refresh them in lots of cold water immediately.
21 vegetable× 400g tins stock coconut cube milkor 1 tbsp powder 2 lemongrass stalks 4 lime leaves (optional) 1 shallot, peeled and finely sliced 2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved 1 red chilli, roughly chopped 2 tbsp coconut sugar or caster sugar A bunch of fresh coriander 200g buckwheat noodles 250g chard or other summery greens, washed and shredded 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari Juice of 2 limes
A bunch of chives or garlic chives, and their flowers A handful of one or all of the following: basil, purple basil, coriander, mint
1 Pour the coconut milk into a large pan and add a canful of water and the stock cube or powder. Bash the lemongrass with a rolling pin until it’s smashed, to help release the flavours more quickly. Add to the pan with the lime leaves (if you are using them), shallot, garlic, chilli and sugar. Cut the roots off the coriander and add that too.
2 Push all the aromatics into the liquid so they are covered and turn the heat on under the pan. Bring to a gentle simmer, then allow to bubble for 15 minutes, or until you have an intensely flavoured coconut broth.
3 Meanwhile, cook the noodles in a pan of boiling water – they will take 8-10 minutes, but all brands are different so check the instructions on yours. Once cooked, drain and refresh in cold water, then put to one side. While they are cooking, wash and shred the chard. Shred the stalks as finely as you can but chop the leaves a little bigger.
4 Next, take the broth pan off the heat and sieve the broth into a bowl, discarding all the aromatics (they have done their work now) and add the soy sauce and lime juice.
5 Divide the noodles into each bowl. Next to the noodles, pile up a quarter of the shredded chard and finally pour the warm soup over the lot. Top with the chives and herbs and, if you like, a little more lime.
Corn, courgette and baby gem soup
This is loosely based on a corn soup recipe by Diana Kennedy, a fastidious researcher and writer on Mexican food. Courgettes come in all sizes, so use two medium ones as a guide. If it is searingly hot outside, this soup is excellent cold too.
2 medium courgettes 4 tbsp butter or olive oil 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 4 ears of corn, kernels only Up to 1 litre of water A small handful of fresh coriander, plus more to serve 1 green chilli 2 little gems, washed and shredded Sea salt
1 Grate 1½ courgettes (you will use the other half later) on a standard box grater. Heat 1 tbsp of the butter or oil in a large, deep pan, add the grated courgettes and cook for a few minutes, until they are soft and beginning to colour. Then tip the lot into a blender (you can use a hand blender too) and blitz a little, keeping a bit of texture. Put to one side.
2 Heat a little more oil or butter and fry the onion and garlic, without browning, until soft. Add the courgette mixture and cook for another couple of minutes.
3 Blitz the corn kernels in the blender with up to 1 litre water (depending on what consistency you like), most of the coriander leaves (saving a few to finish) and all the stalks, the chilli and most of the shredded lettuce. Blitz until smooth.
4 Add the corn mixture to the pan with the courgettes and onions, then cook on a medium heat for another few minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to stop the mixture from sticking. Season to taste.
5 Meanwhile, cut the remaining half courgette into thick coins. Once the soup is warmed through, ladle into bowls and finish with the remaining lettuce, coriander and the little courgette coins.