School has barely started and already, come dinnertime, I'm stumped. We're still getting such fresh, summery things from our farm share: zucchini and corn, peppers and herbs and tomatoes. But I'm not really in a corn-on-the-cob mood anymore, you know? But this soup came together quickly, used a lot of what I needed to use, and was a surprise smash hit: fragrant and flavorful, studded with sweet corn kernels and crunchy corn tortilla strips. The children, who are wild about neither soup nor summer squash, both helped themselves to seconds. I've said it before, but I'll say it again: garnishes. That's the key to happy soup eating.
Zucchini Soup with Corn, Cilantro, and Mint
This is fairly loosely adapted from—wait for it—Local Flavors! I know. Come September, I’m obsessed with that book. I added the corn and jalapeno, and skipped some roasted Poblanos and a blended-in tortilla. Maybe I was trying subconsciously to make it taste like this pasta? Also, and this may sound odd, I served it neither cold nor hot (both of which are officially recommended) but at room temperature, which I’m recommending here. It was perfect that way: dinner-like and not coldly off-putting, but not too hot on a still-warm evening. (Note: Did you get a corn zipper, like I told you? I'm going to keep mentioning it until you do. You'll see.)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 or 4 medium-sized zucchini, diced
1 small bunch cilantro, washed well and slivered (including stems)
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, sliced (optional)
1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
3 tablespoons chopped parsley (if you didn't have this, it would not be a tragedy)
2 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
5 cups water or chicken or veggie broth (I used water and one excellent veggie bouillon cube)
1 corn tortilla, halved and then cut into skinny strips (use scissors!)
3 ears of corn, kernels shaved off (or 2 or 3 cups good frozen corn)
Lime wedges, sour cream, and cilantro leaves for serving
1. In a large soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat, and sauté the onion, zukes, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, parsley and mint for ten or so minutes, stirring frequently, until everything is nice and limp and soft.
2. Add the water or broth and salt (use less salt if your broth is very salty), bring it to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, until the zucchini is completely soft—around 10 or 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the soup to cool.
3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a small pan and fry the tortilla strips over medium heat until crisp. (If you wanted to just swap some tortilla chip crumbs here, I don’t see why you couldn’t.)
4. Remove them to a bowl and, in the same pan and oil, sauté the corn over medium heat until just tender—3 minutes.
5. Puree the cooled soup until smooth. I used a stick blender, but you could use a regular blender if that’s what you have. Stir the corn into the soup, and taste for salt.
6. Serve the soup hot, cold, or lukewarm, garnished with tortilla strips, sour cream, and cilantro, with a wedge of lime on the side.