Serve this Mexican-style soup hot or room temperature
It’s peak corn and zucchini in our part of the world. So why not combine them?
This soup is a perfect first course – or you can even make a meal out of it. And it tastes equally good hot or at room temperature. Which also makes it perfect for summer weather.
So no need to sweat it in the kitchen.
Recipe: Corn, Zucchini, and Bean Soup
Zucchini is great in this dish. But you can also substitute yellow squash. Sweet corn freezes extremely well, so you can use frozen corn if fresh isn’t available.
We like to use black beans in this soup, but almost any bean would work. White beans would be particularly nice.
The spices in this soup are what give it a Mexican angle. You can adjust the spice level to fit your taste (though this recipe is moderately spiced). We use ancho chile powder, which doesn’t have a lot of heat. But you could substitute chipotle or something stronger if that’s your preference.
BTW, chile powder is the powder of dried chilies. Chili powder – with an i – contains both chile powder and other flavorings such as dried cumin, coriander, oregano, and salt.
Exact quantities aren’t all that important in this dish. You can change things around to suit your tastes (or the contents of your pantry).
This recipe takes about 30 minutes to prepare. You can make it a day or two ahead and refrigerate it if you prefer. Just reheat it if serving hot, or let it come up to room temperature for a cooler option.
This dish serves 8 as a first course (or half that many as a main). Leftovers keep well for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container.
- ~3 cups sweet corn (fresh or frozen)
- 1 medium onion (we use yellow, but purple onion would be dandy too)
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ~½ teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste; see Notes)
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves (to taste)
- 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers (to taste)
- ~1 pound zucchini (1 big or 2 medium; yellow squash would also work well)
- 2 teaspoons dried cumin (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon dried coriander (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or to taste; may substitute fresh)
- 2 to 3 teaspoons ancho chile powder (or to taste; may substitute another chile powder if you prefer)
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 can black beans (you can double this)
- 4 cups water (may substitute chicken or vegetable stock)
- additional kosher salt to taste (probably another ½ teaspoon or so)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (about ¼ teaspoon for us)
- 2 tablespoons cilantro or parsley, minced (optional)
- jalapeño slices for garnish (optional)
- If using fresh sweet corn, cut the kernels from the cobs (see Notes). If using frozen corn, measure out 3 cups. Set aside.
- Peel the onion and cut it into dice of ¼ inch or so. Wash and dry the red bell pepper, then remove the stem and core. Remove the white ribs, and cut the pepper into dice of ½ inch or a bit less.
- Place a cooking pot (one that holds at least 4 quarts) on medium stovetop heat. When hot, add the oil. Once the oil heats (it’ll shimmer – about 15 seconds), add the chopped onion and red bell pepper. Season with salt, and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, peel the garlic and mince it or cut it into thin slices. Set aside.
- Wash the jalapeño peppers and cut them lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the ribs and seeds (be careful, the oil on these is hot; keep fingers away from your eyes). Chop the peppers into very small dice (or use a mini food processor). You may want to reserve a round or two of the jalapeño for garnish. Set the chopped jalapeños aside, then wash your hands with soap and water to remove the hot oil from your skin.
- Cut the stem(s) off the zucchini, then dice the zucchini into pieces of ½ inch or so.
- By this time, the onion and bell pepper will probably have been sautéing for 5 minutes. Add the sweet corn, chopped garlic, jalapeño, and zucchini to the cooking pot and sauté for another 5 minutes.
- Add the dried cumin, coriander, oregano, and chile powder to the cooking pot. Stir to mix in the spices.
- Add the can of diced tomatoes to the cooking pot. Drain and rinse the black beans, then add them to the cooking pot. Add the water.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer, then taste. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Cook for about 15 minutes (a bit longer is fine).
- If using the cilantro or parsley, mince it while the soup is cooking. Stir it in when the soup is almost done.
- Serve the soup immediately, or let it cool to room temperature. We like to garnish it with jalapeño slices.
- If using fresh sweet corn, we estimate that one ear yields about ¾ cup of kernels (maybe a bit less).
- We find the easiest way to cut kernels from a cob is to stand a shucked ear upright on a cutting board (with the stem up – you hold onto that with one hand). Use a sharp knife and slice downwards underneath the rows of kernels.
- We use canned beans in this recipe because they’re convenient, but the dish would be even better with dried beans that you soak and simmer.
- We haven’t used pinto beans in this recipe, but think they’d be wonderful.
- You could replace the red bell pepper and jalapeño with other chilies. Hatch or poblano chilies would get our vote.
- We use kosher salt, which is less salty by volume than regular table salt (its large crystals don’t pack as densely). If using regular table salt, start with about half as much as we suggest.
- But always adjust salt and black pepper (or any herb or spice) to your own taste.
“Mmm, corn,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Keep those recipes coming.”
“I’m all ears when it comes to your suggestions,” I said.
“Fortunately, we have a cornucopia of recipes to choose from,” said Mrs K R.
“Loving the zucchini, too,” I said. “I’ll have to squash more of that into our repertoire.”
“We just can’t resist corny food jokes, can we?” said Mrs K R.
“Of course not,” I said. “They’re our stalk in trade.”
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