Sum­mer­time Soup

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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 saute 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 Corn cob

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. Saute 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.

***

An­gela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning chil­dren’s author, culi­nary his­to­rian and the author of seven cook­books. Her new cook­book is “The Kitchen Diva’s Di­a­betic Cook­book.” Her web­site is www.di­vapro.com. To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like An­gela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Face­book. Recipes may not be reprinted with­out per­mis­sion from An­gela Shelf Medearis.

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