One last summer hurrah.Jump to Recipe
As I type this, I’m sitting in a quiet little campsite and night is falling. I’m digging into a tiny pot of this soup – the same pot that I rewarmed it in – dunking hunks of buttermilk biscuit into the broth and pondering the scenery. If the forest surrounding me was less dense, I would be able to see Bellingham Bay from here, and beyond it Lummi Island and the San Juan Islands, but as it is, I just imagine they’re there in all their verdant green glory.
Four days ago, I was at home in Boulder, closing up the house for a stretch away. As usual, it was a swirl of work tasks and cooking tasks, with the phone blowing up, my email bonging constantly, as pots boil on the stove, the oven ripping along and me pinging between them all. All of the vestiges of summer were hanging out in my fridge and pantry, and by the time night fell, they – along with all the tasks waiting on my to-do list – had been turned into something good. The next morning I got myself + all of my equipment and provisions for 10 days of mountain biking and bumping around the PacNW loaded and off I went. A little jar of this creamy, corny Elote Soup was tucked into the back of the fridge for a cozy occasion down the road.
The drive has been a long one, particularly because I’m making it alone, but also because life and work doesn’t necessarily stop when I get into the van. So, I’ve been making stops along the way for Ayurveda classes, phone calls, work tasks, etc. But between making stops to take care of sporadic work (necessary,) nabbing a quick dip in the lakes + rivers that pop up on the map, taking a few morale stops here and here (not necessary…or are they?) and planning a few meals that make me feel grounded and warmed, I’m doing AOK, particularly when I finally roll into camp at night for dinner.
After a rough day, whizzing about, as the sun sets and the chill of the evening sets in, the last thing I want to eat – or my body wants to eat – is a rough, cold salad. Salads are delicious, but they don’t give very good welcome home hugs. But tonight, this little jar of summer tucked into the fridge warmed up easily, and soothed me into camp. At last, I’d finished my drive, and arrived at my destination.
I have a sneaking suspicion that, by the time I get home, summer will have had most of her last hurrah. Even the next few days here in Bellingham are going to be rainy and fall-like. And so, enjoying this little bowl is my way of sending her off for the season, not letting any drop of her bounty or beauty go to waste.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that our bodies need different things in different seasons. Nature is showing us what to eat, if we just let her. It can be tricky to navigate this – the seasonal nuance of food – if we’re merely shopping at the grocery store. The abundance and non-sensical availability can make it difficult to know what’s what and what’s when. But if you bump along on a dirt road for a little while, wherever you live, your farmers will tell you.
I’ve been watching the farmstands as I make my way West. Apples, huckleberries, and fresh sweet corn are everywhere. Soon, this won’t be the case and the corn stalks will stand in the fields waiting for winter. But for now, it’s time for us to feast.
This is to say that the time to make this soup is RIGHT NOW. Not in a few weeks, and certainly not in the middle of the winter when the corn could be flown in from Peru for all we know, mediocre in its flavor and nutrition from making the long journey, and extraordinary in its cost to the environment for the same long trip.
The time to make this soup is right now. Waste no time! The corn is sweet and fleeting! And our bodies are ready for a warming bowl of something loaded with spicy flavors, adventurous textures, and ingredients designed to ground us and soothe us into winter. This is the time for Elote Soup.
Is it chowder? Or a soup?
Unlike most chowders, this recipe isn’t bolstered with a lot of thickening agents. Instead, it’s made hearty by the addition of other summer veggies (zucchini squash or potatoes,) and coconut milk. The creaminess comes from perfectly sweet corn, stewing around in the coconut milk, then you blend just enough to make a creamy-but-textural bowl. It’s hearty, warming, soothing, sweet, savory, spice-spiked and still tastes like summer…even though it’s perfect preparation for fall.
Especially when you pile on the textural toppings, this soup has it all. Go ham. Or really go corn but you know what I mean.
Flavors are FUN, yes, but they also are the mechanisms by which our bodies nourish themselves. Flavors basically tell our bodies what the food is giving us – on a nutritional and energetic level. Our bodies then prepare enzymes to break those components down, assimilate them, and turn them into fuel for our vibrant lives. We can’t eat just one flavor and get all of the things we need, so learning to track the flavors in our foods helps us to be sure that we’re really getting all of the things we need in our meals. This particular recipe has all six flavors, one of the reasons it’s so darn good for all things. The more flavors we can enjoy in any meal or food, the happier and more balanced our bodies will be. If you’re wanting to learn more about how the flavors we eat fuel our bodies – energetically and nutritively, check out this little blog post.
One last summer hurrah.
In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, sauté the minced onion and ginger with a fat pinch of salt until the onion becomes translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add the paprika, cumin, coriander and smoked red pepper flake and stir to coat. Then add the chopped zucchini or potato and continue to sauté until the veggies begin to brown a smidge, 2 – 3 minutes.
Add the corn kernels, water and coconut milk, stir to combine and then bring the mixture to a boil. Once a boil is achieved, add a couple of the corn cobs (for flavor!) reduce the heat to medium, cover with a lid and allow to simmer until the corn and veggies are tender, 15 – 20 minutes. It’s important that you cover the pot so all of the lovely creamy liquid doesn’t evaporate!
Transfer ⅓ of the soup to a food processor, high speed blender or a bowl with an immersion blender at the ready (this is what I used,) and blend until the portion of soup is smooth. Add the blended soup back to the pot and stir to combine.
Ladle the soup into bowls, then top with chopped herbs, sliced radishes, crumbled feta, grilled shrimp or your preferred seafood, and a squeeze of lime. Oh! And one last pinch of paprika and smoked red pepper!