Corn Summer Soup, with Saffron and Turmeric

I had purchased yellow squash and was longing for a summer soup when the idea for this recipe washed over me like a dream, just as I fell asleep. Years of sleep deprivation as an architecture student taught me that late night “ideas”, as clear and sublime as they might appear at 4 am, are 60 percent delusional, 35 percent nonsensical, and 5 percent pure magic. This time the numbers seem to have reversed. Perhaps wine really does enlighten the mind, or maybe I’m finally sleeping normal hours. The idea felt so real I could taste it; hot, steamy, and aromatic, bright as as sunny summer day. It would be golden in hue, as if kissed by that same very sun, so much so that you could taste it.

The next morning, I woke up to the mouthwatering taste of sweet summer corn, spiced with turmeric and saffron, laced with a spicy green sauce that goes well with anything and everything, refreshing and herbaceous.  As soon as I got home from a grueling day of work, I turned on the burner, chopped vegetables, and cooked my dreams into a reality, kernel by kernel, squash by squash.

This soup is light with a perfect balance of sweet and spice. The combination of saffron and turmeric makes it exotic, without loosing the familiar summer flavors of corn. When paired with this amazing spicy green sauce, every bite is a comforting and welcome, surprise of flavors. The grassy taste of cilantro and jalapeno add the perfect balance to the earthy and aromatic taste of spices infusing this soup.

I know, I know, soup and summer don’t go hand in hand, but hey; sometimes the belly wants decadence, comfort, and warmth, and this soup’s got it.

The Amazing Spicy Green Sauce

Makes about a cup

Cook time, 5 minutes

  • 2 jalapenos, stems and seeds removed
  • 1 garlic scape, or alternatively one clove of garlic
  • 1 big handful fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp. fresh oregano
  • 1 tbsp. tahini
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 large pinch of salt

Place jalapenos, garlic scape, cilantro, and fresh oregano in a food processor, pulse until roughly chopped. Add tahini, olive oil, water, and a pinch of salt. Pulse until smooth. Taste for seasoning, adjusting as necessary.  Set-aside until ready to use. Store in an airtight container. Keeps  fresh for 4-5 days in the refrigerator.

Turmeric & Saffron Summer Corn Soup

Serves 4-5

Cook time, 30 minutes

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • ¼ red onion, sliced
  • 1 inch knob of ginger, sliced
  • 3-4 small yellow carrots cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 ears fresh corns, shucked and silked
  • 1 yellow summer squash, cut into ½ inch slices
  • 1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • Fresh black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 2 cups water, or vegetable broth
  • Pinch saffron, plus more for plating
  • Several leaves oregano for plating

Place a large pot over medium-high heat, with 2 tbsp. olive oil. Add red onion, ginger, and carrots. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Onions and carrots should begin to soften, but not brown. Remove corn kernels from husk, then add both kernels and husks into the pot. Add sliced summer squash, then salt, black pepper to taste, and turmeric. Stir. Add 2 cups water, or vegetable broth, into pot with vegetables. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium low and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Discard corn husks. Let soup cool for a few minutes.

Transfer components into a blender, and puree until smooth, about 1 minute in a Vitamix.  Transfer back into pot. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary.  Add pinch of saffron and stir.

To serve, scoop about a cup of soup  into a bowl. Add a couple saffron threads, a couple oregano leaves, a tablespoon or two of The Amazing Spicy Green sauce, and a couple cracks of fresh ground pepper. I also like to eat this with a slice or two of avocado and a scoop of brown rice. (Taste awesome cold, too!)