Soup … If there were one type of food I could live on for the rest of my life, this would be it. Soup is infinitely variable, following the produce of the season and amenable to flavour profiles from around the world … hot or cold, omnivore, vegetarian or vegan, the possibilities are endless. Just when I thought I’d done everything with the late summer harvest, this Golden Summer Harvest Soup more or less concocted itself back in 2017, proving my point. It’s one that I’m still making, all these years later.
When I’m lucky enough to stay at my rental cottage on Lake Huron in late summer, I pretty much plan my meals around the fresh produce I find at the Juicy-Fruit Farm Market. This time of year there’s so much to choose from.
During my recent stay, I practically lived on baskets of beautiful summer peaches, and in a nod to fall, crunchy Paula Red apples. There are also everbearing strawberries still available, along with baskets of jewel-tone plums. But, much as I’m a fruitaholic, the vegetables also grab my attention and imagination.
Golden Summer Harvest Soup
I knew I’d be making soup at the cottage. No matter the weather, a big pot of soup is ideal for lunches and dinners, whether broiling on the beach or shivering inside as the rain lashes down. I had planned to make one of my favourite recipes, this cauliflower, corn and split pea soup. But when I got to the market, my eye was drawn to the hefty golden yellow zucchini, and that inspired me to make a golden soup also featuring yellow beans and yellow corn.
The broth’s golden colour is intensified by the addition of ground turmeric, as well as a cup of homemade pumpkin purée from my freezer. (I’d say that’s optional, but certainly worthwhile.)
On a side trip to the Forest Glen Herb Farm, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to buy a big bunch of fresh celery leaf. I adore celery leaf, but the meagre amount that’s usually attached to the stalks I buy is pretty limiting. I was excited to have a good quanitity to work with. Not only does it add flavour, but its deep green contrasts strikingly with the golden soup. It’s a fantastic enhancement for this soup, but I know that celery leaf isn’t always easy to come by, so I’ve listed it as an optional ingredient.
This is essentially a simple soup. The seasonings are only salt, pepper and turmeric, with additional herbal flavour from the celery leaf and some fresh sage that I also bought at the herb farm. There are the usual aromatics: onion, garlic (from my cousin’s garden) and red chili pepper. And then, those just-picked fresh, golden vegetables.
I’m not going to tell you that prepping this soup can be done in a flash. There’s a lot of chopping and slicing involved, but it’s meditative, satisfying work. The kind of work that yields many benefits: a feeling of calmness, the satisfaction of accomplishment, and many servings of a hearty yet somehow delicate, flavourful soup.
Technique: Slicing Kernels Off a Cob of Corn
And by the way, I’ve found the best way yet to slice the kernels off a cob of corn. Just lay it flat on a cutting board, holding it steady with one hand, while carefully slicing a row or two of kernels off with a sharp chef’s knife. Then rotate, taking advantage of the flat surface for steadiness, and slice off more kernels, repeating all the way around. Afterwards, don’t forget to run the dull edge of the knife along the cob (over a bowl) to scrape off any remaining bits of kernels along with the milky goodness.
Forget what you’ve heard (including from me) about standing a cob on a small bowl inverted in a big bowl and slicing down the cob — my experience has been that some kernels still fly about. And it just doesn’t seem to be the safest way to wield a sharp chef’s knife. My new method is neater, safer, and doesn’t dirty any extra dishes.
Golden Summer Harvest Soup: The Verdict
I was so pleased with how this Golden Summer Harvest Soup turned out. It’s flavourful and richly golden in colour. I also enjoy the texture of the vegetables, in particular the beans, which add that little bit of squeak that makes eating this soup not just nutritious, but also fun.
However, if you’re averse to a textured soup, as one of the Offspring is, you can purée the soup with an immersion blender or in a regular blender to produce a smooth version (pictured above along with the regular version) that tastes every bit as good. It would also make an elegant start for dinner.
Let’s Put the Soup Pot On!
- 1–2 tbsp olive oil (or a neutral oil like grapeseed)
- 1 large yellow cooking onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red chili pepper, minced
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 1 large yellow zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced about 1/4" thick
- 2 handfuls yellow beans, trimmed and quartered
- 3 cobs yellow corn, kernels and milk
- 1 cup finely chopped celery leaf (OPTIONAL)
- 12 small leaves fresh sage, finely chopped
- 1 cup pumpkin purée (OPTIONAL—see note}
Start by prepping all the vegetables and herbs, and have them standing by, ready to add to the soup as required.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to turn translucent. Add the garlic and red chili pepper and cook for a couple more minutes, stirring from time to time. Sprinkle in the turmeric, salt and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring well. At this stage you're "blooming" the turmeric — cooking the rawness out of it and drawing out the flavour.
Add the broth, then the zucchini, beans and corn. Stir well and bring the soup to a boil. Turn the heat to a simmer, then add the celery leaf (if using) and sage. Stir in the pumpkin purée if using. Cook for about 20 minutes, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Cook for another 10 minutes or so.
The soup can be served as is, or you can puree it using an immersion blender for a smooth version.
- Remember that the vegetables you use in a soup are never an exact measurement. How much you use depends on what size you find at the market or what’s needing to be used up from your pantry. Of course your own taste comes into play! Maybe you’d like extra corn and less zucchini. Remember that you’re making your own pot of soup for yourself, not me. Maybe you have an aversion to turmeric or prefer to add curry too. Just keep in mind that significant changes could result in a soup that’s so different from mine that it deserves its own name. In that case, congratulations, you’re an intuitive cook coming up with your own dishes!
- For reference, the large yellow zucchini I used was about 10″ long and 8″ in circumference. If you use 2 smaller yellow zucchinis you could just halve them lengthwise before slicing.
- The pumpkin purée that I use in this recipe is the thinner, golden kind, not the thick bronze type you use for pies, and most definitely not sweetened and spiced pie filling! I like to use the pumpkin purée that I make from scratch, but I’ve also bought something similar in a box, not can.
Looking for More Late Summer Harvest Soups?
There’s so much you can do with the late summer harvest and a soup pot! Grilled Corn Soup and Late Summer Soup with Butternut Squash, Corn and Red Lentils are among my favourites. And if you’re looking for a cool soup to enjoy on a crushingly hot August day, you simply must try this Thai-Inspired Chilled Watermelon Soup.
First Published 2017 08 31
Republished 2022 09 05