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 treating it 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 Soup with Turmeric and Celery Leaf more or less concocted itself, proving my point.
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 Soup with Turmeric and Celery Leaf
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 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.
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. My new method is neater, plus it doesn’t dirty any extra dishes.
I was so pleased with how this Golden Summer 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.
Golden Summer Soup with Turmeric and Celery Leaf
© Marlene Cornelis, Urban Cottage Life.com
This soup has a lovely freshness to it, as the vegetables retain some of their crispness and bring a variety of textures. The creamy centre of the zucchini more or less melts away, leaving the tender crisp skins, the beans bring a squeaky bite to the soup, and corn offers its unique pop.
- 1–2 tbsp olive oil
- 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 (mine was about 10″ long and 8″ in diameter), halved lengthwise and each half quartered, then sliced about 1/4″ thick
- 2 handfuls yellow beans, trimmed and quartered
- Kernels and milk from 3 cobs yellow corn
- 1 cup finely chopped celery leaf
- about 12 small leaves fresh sage
- (optional) 1 cup pumpkin purée (the thinner, golden kind, not the thick bronze type you use for pies, and most definitely not pie filling!)
Start by prepping all the vegetables and having them standing by, ready to add to the soup as required.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to turn translucent. Then add the garlic and red chili pepper and cook for a couple more minutes. Sprinkle in the turmeric, salt and pepper. Stir well, and 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 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.
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.