Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer Roasted Corn Stew

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Nothing says summer quite like fresh corn and ripe tomatoes. We found some among other fresh summer offerings like watermelons and blueberries at our local produce market. Sure, you can get corn and tomatoes in the winter, but they never look or taste the same -- winter corn is always a bit dry and shriveled and tomatoes are bland and pale. So I thought I'd take advantage of the fresh produce and make something simple and amazing.

Initially, I thought I'd make a succotash of sorts. Then I realized that I don't know what goes in it besides corn. Then I thought of Sylvester the cat ("sufferin' succotash!"). Then I thought I'd wing it and make a soup, which came out pretty tasty.  

You'll need:
  • 2 ears of corn, husked
  • 5 medium tomatoes (I used plum tomatoes), diced
  • 2 pounds of Yukon gold potatoes, medium diced with skin on
  • 1 15-ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 onion, diced small
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 5 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped cilantro for garnish
  • fresh lemon juice
Place an oven-proof pan in the oven and pre-heat to 500 degrees. You want to use something sturdy like a cast iron skillet, so the high heat doesn't warp your pan. Place the corn in the pan. Grease it with a little bit of canola oil if you are worried about sticking. Make sure the corn is in contact with the surface of the pan because you want nice brown bits. Turn the corn every 5 to 10 minutes until the corn is nicely browned, about 30 minutes or so. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. You can also grill the corn instead.

In a large pot, saute diced onions in olive oil over medium heat until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme and cook for another minute. Add vegetable stock and Yukon gold potatoes. Season with salt. Crank the heat up to high and bring the soup to boil. After it reaches boiling point, reduce the heat so the soup simmers. Cook for 15 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and crank up the heat for another 10 minutes. Add black beans. Shuck the cooled roasted corn and add into the pot. Cook for 5 more minutes. Check the seasoning. Turn off the heat and serve with chopped cilantro and a little freshly squeezed lemon juice on top.

The fresh corn gives this soup some sweetness while potatoes and black beans give it more substance and body. I think the key ingredient here is the fresh lemon juice, which keeps the soup from being too heavy. If you like it a bit spicy, this would be great with a dash of hot sauce or some red chili flakes. I liked it as is -- rich, sweet and flavorful.

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