Sometimes (read: a lot of the time, most of the time, all of the time), our culture dictates our perception of even the most minute aspects of our existence. In broader ways, too, those of us on the Western side of the globe often adopt an individualistic, and at times, capitalist attitude. So, I stand before you, bowl of corn soup in hand, aiming to convince that this even permeates the way we eat.
It becomes clear upon moving to and living in a Northern state that, come late fall and winter, freezes over into a pristine-if ice-covered and chilly-wonderland. It has taken me several years, but this quality of thawing out-and, most importantly, enjoying the bounty of fresh produce that suddenly sprouts-has really made me appreciate seasonality.
Where I would previously seek out recipes for whatever I was craving using any method possible to obtain the necessary ingredients, I found myself this year looking into the mirror at the face of a woman who has changed in ways she didn’t realize. This year, that woman went to a farmer’s market and bought rhubarb during its peak. She planned a pie (coming soon) specifically for cherry season. She dreamed up a soup to honor the sweet, yellow ears of corn she found piled at the grocery store last week. In a way, this woman has shifted from capitalizing on cravings; she has begun drawing inspiration from what occurs organically around her. At least, sometimes.
Seasonality is a quality I have grown to prioritize, especially now that I live on my own. Of course, my budget was the original inspiration, but so, too, was variety. I started to make batches of nutritious (and, let’s face it, not-so-nutritious) meals using seasonal produce in order to freeze and enjoy over time. It helps keep things interesting, while also providing the reliability of simply turning to what I already have to nourish me.
All it took was the gift of a handheld blender from my mother-who, you may remember, is a very generous woman (e.g., that time she gave me the denim jacket she caught me stealing from her)-to inspire a vibrant, yellow, end-of-summer soup. Packed with both pureed and roasted corn, this dish gets its color from the vegetable of choice, as well as vibrant turmeric. Likewise, its aroma stems from a mixture of cumin and lime. We top it with salsa made from smooth, sulfuric avocado and more of that sweet, roasted corn. In case it isn’t obvious: here is this glorious summer season in a bowl.
Vegan Cumin-Scented Fresh Corn Soup with Roasted Corn and Avocado Salsa
Inspired by this
2 ears fresh corn, divided
2 cups frozen corn, defrosted
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp jalapeño, diced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 quarts (8 cups) vegetable broth
juice of one lime
1 tbsp finely chopped red onion
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
juice of one lime
2 avocados, pitted and chopped
sea salt, to taste
Toppings: blue corn chips, fresh cilantro, ground cumin, sour cream
Preheat broiler and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a sharp knife to shave kernels from the ears of corn, then spread out evenly on baking sheet. Broil corn until golden brown, redistributing halfway through, about 20 minutes. Reserve 1/3 cup of roasted corn for avocado salsa. Meanwhile, place defrosted frozen corn into a medium bowl and puree using a handheld blender. In a large pot, heat 1.5 tbsp olive oil on medium heat. Add onions, sea salt, and pepper to oil and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add jalapeños and sauté until tender, another 2 minutes. Pour onions and jalapeños into corn puree and blend with handheld blender. Meanwhile, heat another 1.5 tbsp olive oil in the same pot. Add red bell pepper and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Pour in the corn-onion-jalapeno mixture. Stir in cumin, turmeric, chili powder, cayenne, and more sea salt and black pepper. Stir in roasted corn. Pour in vegetable broth and lime juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover for 20 minutes. Soup can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to four days.
In a medium bowl, add roasted corn, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, avocado. Stir until combined, seasoning to taste with sea salt.
Serve corn soup hot, topped with roasted corn and avocado salsa, cilantro sprigs, ground cumin, sour cream, and/or blue corn chips.