Thursday, August 27, 2009

San Diego Summer: Time For Creamy Corn and Zucchini Soup

zucchini and corn curry soup

Last week I was shopping in Marshall's when someone tapped me on my shoulder. I turned around to find a petite woman wearing a sleeveless black mini-dress and flip-flops; she was visibly shivering. "Excuse me," she said, "Do you know where they sell leggings?" I instantly thought, tourist.

I directed her towards the leggings (and the jackets), and asked her, "Are you visiting?" She replied, "Yeah. And I'm freezing! I thought San Diego was supposed to have perfect weather all the time? I'm from New York, and it's warmer there than here!" She thanked me, then scampered away, vigorously rubbing her arms for warmth.

That's the thing about San Diego. Our summers aren't like the rest of the country's. Although we have occasional heat spikes, the temps usually hover in the 70's and dip in the morning and evening. Most people aren't expecting such cool temps in August, and they're certainly not expecting overcast or drizzly weather like we had last week.

If you're feeling envious, don't worry. Hot weather will strike in September and October. That's when hot, dry desert air will turn most of Southern California into a pizza oven. Just as the rest of the country starts wearing sweaters and eating stews, we'll be in spaghetti straps and eating salads.

zucchini and corn curry soup

We certainly won't be making soup, so I have decided to enjoy my fall soup season now. It may not be chilly enough to wear my fleece, but it's just the right weather for a bowl of Creamy Corn and Zucchini Curry Soup with Corn Relish. Summer time staples such as sweet corn on the cob, tender zucchini, and fragrant cilantro are warmed up with earthy potatoes, hot curry, and soothing coconut milk for a soup that transitions deliciously from summer to autumn.

Apparently I'd better hurry up and finish my soup. We're expecting one of those occasional heat spikes this weekend. So much for wearing my fleece.

Creamy Corn and Zucchini Curry Soup with Corn Relish
Makes 4 servings.
Print recipe only here.

Note: This soup tastes even better the next day. So it's a good meal to make over the weekend for a quick and easy mid-week dinner.

Corn Relish:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup fresh corn kernels (or canned)
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
salt, to taste

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
2 cups Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cups vegetable broth
2 cups fresh corn kernels from 2 ears (or canned)
3 cups chopped zucchini (2 medium)
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (the more the seeds, the hotter the flavor)
2 tablespoons fresh minced ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon hot curry powder
1 (15 ounce) can regular or light coconut milk
juice of 1 lime (3-4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup each finely chopped fresh cilantro and mint

1. To make the relish, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn kernels, red pepper, and green onions, cooking until slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat, and add fresh cilantro and salt, to taste. Set aside.

2. In a deep pot over medium-high heat, melt butter. Saute onions for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add potatoes and broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; add corn kernels, zucchini, jalapeno, ginger, salt, and curry powder, and stir well. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the coconut milk, lime juice, and herbs. Turn off heat and cool for 10 minutes.

3. Puree soup in two batches until smooth, and return to the pot over medium-low heat.

4. Taste it, and adjust seasonings accordingly. Garnish each serving with a spoonful of corn relish.

You might also enjoy these soups:

New England Clam Chowder

Curried Red Lentil, Chickpea, and Kale Soup

Here are more soups featuring corn and zucchini:
Chilled Corn Soup at Cooking With Amy
Thai Chicken and Corn Chowder at Slashfood
Cream of Zucchini Soup at A Veggie Venture
Zucchini Pear Soup at Bitten (NYT) with Mark Bittman