Many years before the birth of The Lazy Gourmet, Robin and I were college housemates sharing a huge, century-old Victorian house with five other women. You can read the long version here—about how we all took turns cooking, about how Robin and I had very different backgrounds when it came to culinary competence, and about the revelation that inspired us to write a cookbook together all these years later. (Or read the short version instead, which you have just done.)
We love to reminisce about the delicious dinners we cooked up in that house—unusually good food for a bunch of college kids barely out of our teens. There was a legendary tomato-based seafood soup, pierogies from someone’s grandmother’s recipe, homemade calzones, fava beans drenched in garlic butter, apple pies, and a full Thanksgiving dinner one night in July when turkeys were on sale for some reason. Then there was one of my all-time favorites: a gigantic pot of corn and tomato soup that we made with fresh corn, sweet summer tomatoes, heavy cream, and a dash of cayenne pepper. There was something about that particular soup—the bright colors, intense flavors, and my budding excitement at first discovering how to experiment in the kitchen—that made a lasting impression on me.
I started thinking to would be fun to recreate that famous soup, so I did just that. It turns out to be a very quick and easy dish to prepare, and is so naturally flavorful that it hardly needs any seasoning at all. (I didn’t even use vegetable broth—just plain old tap water and a little salt and pepper!) For best results use garden-fresh, super-sweet tomatoes.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 3 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 4 cobs)
- 1 red bell pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1/8 - ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 pound sweet tomatoes, chopped
- 3 cups water or vegetable broth
- 1 cup half-and-half
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- In a stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat. When oil is hot but not smoking, add onion and garlic and stir until onions are soft and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add corn, bell pepper, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper (if using) and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add tomatoes and water or broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid starts looking cloudy and yellow, about 10 minutes.
- Using an immersion blender (or in batches in a countertop blender or food processor) purée about half of the soup until smooth.
- Whisk in half-and-half and basil.
- Taste, and adjust seasonings if needed.