The Pure Taste of Summer: Corn and Tomato Soup
Corn and Tomato Soup

Chilled soups are the perfect food to eat when it's just too hot to cook. They should be made ahead so there is plenty of time to properly chill the soup -- and keep the cook cool in the heat of the day.

When I think of my favorite foods of summer, it always comes down to corn and tomatoes -- for me, they are the essence of summer flavor. And since we have a few more weeks of summer, why not try this savory corn and tomato soup? The most important tip for a flavorful result is to select very ripe tomatoes that are juicy and sweet. No need to use the pricier heirloom tomatoes here; beefsteak tomatoes work wonderfully for this recipe. Select corn that is crisp and sweet. Sweet white corn is particularly delicious in this soup. The fresh basil leaves add just the right herbal touch.

I don't like to waste a single bit of corn flavor, so I cut the corn cobs in half and cook them with the soup to add extra corn flavor. If you love corn and cook with it frequently, you might want to invest in a gadget that will remove the corn kernels from the cob all at once. If you prefer the old-fashioned method, take a very sharp chef's knife, stand the husked ear of corn upright in a bowl and slice down on an angle, separating the corn from the cob and letting it fall into the bowl.

Make sure to use a fine meshed strainer when straining the soup to give it a velvety texture. Chill this for at least 4 hours or, better yet, make it a day ahead to meld the flavors. A dollop of sour cream, a sprig of basil and a scattering of crispy sun-dried tomato or cheese croutons provide an elegant garnish.

Corn and Tomato Soup Recipe

Serves 4-6.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium leeks, cleaned, white part only, finely chopped

5 large ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped, about 2 1/2 pounds

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 1/2 cups corn kernels, (about 4 medium ears), corncobs reserved and cut in half

8 fresh basil leaves

1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon tomato paste

3 cups chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup sun-dried tomato croutons or other cheese croutons, for garnish

1/4 cup sour cream, for garnish

Basil sprigs, for garnish

1. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the leeks and saute for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 more minutes or until slightly softened. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon, making sure that the flour is dissolved. Continue cooking for 2 more minutes.

2. Add the corn kernels, basil sprigs, tomato paste, chicken stock and corncobs, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 25 minutes partially covered. Remove the corncobs and discard.

3. Puree the soup using either a hand blender or a food processor with a metal blade. Pour the soup through a fine meshed strainer into a large container. Add salt and pepper and taste for seasoning. Bring to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

4. To serve: Ladle the soup into a soup bowls and place a few croutons on top. Place a spoonful of sour cream on top of the toast and then garnish each toast with a spoonful a basil sprig.

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The Pure Taste of Summer: Corn and Tomato Soup

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