As I sat with my seed catalogs in the bitter cold of January, my thoughts were of warm late summer days and reaping the rewards of my carefully crafted orders. Now that it’s mid-September, my thoughts have a bit of a different focus. What on earth to do with all this gorgeous produce!
Sometimes you downright just need to get a little creative with the abundance. Recently, the Kitchen Garden provided us with a profusion of summer squash. In response, Murph concocted this rich soup that hits the spot and takes the chill off an autumn night.
Country House Bounty of Summer Soup
1 large chicken breast or 2 – 3 thighs, bone-in, skin removed (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 – 4 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
½ medium onion, peeled and diced
2 medium yellow summer squash, zucchini, or a combination of the two, peeled, seeded and sliced into 1-inch pieces (about 2 or 3 cups total)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 32-ounce container of chicken broth
2 – 3 sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves stripped and stems discarded, or 1 heaping tablespoon of dried
2 ears of fresh sweet corn, shucked
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 dashes liquid smoke (optional)
- Grill chicken. (I like to use a rub of bold spices and get a good char on the meat. It all adds great flavor!) Set aside to cool.
- Heat olive oil on medium-high heat in a high-sided sauté pan with lid, or 2 quart pot. Add chopped garlic and onion and simmer on medium-low for 5 minutes.
- Add the squash, oregano and optional red pepper flakes, and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- To the pan, add the chicken broth, and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes until squash is very tender. Uncover and cool for about 30 minutes.
- While waiting for the squash to cool, steam the corn in 2” of water in a covered pot for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove with tongs and immediately run the ears under cold water.
- Once cool enough to handle, remove kernels with a sharp knife by holding the corn upright on a large cutting board, and with the other hand, work a knife from the tip to the base of the ear. Reserve kernels.
- Working in small batches, carefully ladle the cooled soup/squash mixture into a blender and process. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat process until all the squash has been pureed.
- Return puree to the original pot and add corn kernels. If soup is too thick, thin with additional chicken broth or milk.
- Adjust seasoning with salt, freshly ground pepper and a few dashes of liquid smoke, if desired.
- Shred the cooled chicken, add to the soup and mix thoroughly. (I prefer hand pulled chicken over cut chicken – the texture adds great body, and the open “fibers” of the meat absorbs the wonderful flavor.)
- Heat the soup until just simmering, about 5-10 minutes.
- Serve immediately.