Time to load up on those summer veggies

Mitch Mariani

I always get excited about the summer bounty of vegetables that grow in the home garden or found at the farmers’ market or the farm stand. Eating them while they are in season is the key to their superior quality.
I must admit that when summer vegetables are in season, I tend to double or triple my vegetable consumption! Luckily, it is possible to extend the season on some of my favorite vegetables. With just a little effort, the wonderful vegetables of summer can be made into a soup or frozen and enjoyed during the cooler winter months.
My southern European heritage and agricultural home life are two of the biggest factors I can identify that influence my seasonal eating. Seasonal vegetables, when home grown or purchased directly from a farmer, taste better because they are fully mature prior to harvest.
Unfortunately, this is not the case when purchasing many seasonal vegetables from the grocery store. Those vegetables must be harvested before their time to hold up in transportation and shelf life.
Also, seasonal vegetables are more affordable compared to the out of season counterparts, partly due to their abundance and basic supply and demand principals.
Some of my favorite summer vegetables are tomatoes, corn and peppers. On their own, they are very good, but when combined, the flavors play off each other much like woodwinds, strings and percussion in a symphony. Corn contributes a sweet component while tomatoes add a little acidity and peppers add a little earthiness and with the correct ones, a little spice.
My recipe this week for Creamy Grilled Summer Harvest Soup is very loosely based upon one I came across a few years ago, but portions, ingredients and methods have been altered.
The main part of the recipe intact is the method of grilling the vegetables before they are mixed together into a soup.
This recipe can easily become vegan by omitting the heavy cream and the bacon. Double or triple the batch of soup and freeze in portion containers to enjoy later in the year with fresh baked loaf of warm bead.
Creamy Grilled Summer Harvest Soup
Serves 4-6
• 8 ears corn, husked
• 1 large onion, halved
• 2 tomatoes
• 1 poblano pepper
• Olive oil for brushing on vegetables and grill
• 6 bacon slices, coarsely diced
• 1 quart vegetable stock
• 1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy cream
• 1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped
• Salt and pepper to taste (for vegetables and soup)
• Croutons (optional)
Step 1: Light a gas or charcoal grill to a high heat. After the grill heats, clean it with a wire brush followed by a brushing of olive oil.
Step 2: Coat the vegetables with olive oil and dust them with salt and pepper. Place the corn and onion halves on the grill and cook for seven to 10 minutes, or until tender. Grill the tomatoes until the skin begins to soften. Grill the poblano pepper until it blisters on all sides. Place the tomato and poblano pepper in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Cut the corn from the cob and chop the onion. Remove the skin and seeds from the tomato and poblano pepper and chop.
Step 3: Meanwhile, heat a heavy pot over medium heat and add the bacon and cook just until it starts to become crispy. Place half of the vegetables into the pot and toss with the bacon. Place the other half of the vegetables in a blender or food processor. Blend with a little vegetable stock until the mixture is well pureed. Add the pureed mixture to the pot along with the rest of the vegetable stock. Heat the soup to a simmer for 10-15 minutes to combine the flavors.
Step 4: Stir in 1/2 cup of heavy cream and taste to adjust the salt and pepper. Add the additional 1/4 cup of cream to balance if necessary. Finish by adding the Italian parsley. Serve hot with croutons if desired.
Mitch L. Mariani II is a self-taught amateur chef. Reach him at [email protected]