The windows looked out on rows of corn, following the contours of the valley until meeting low, tree-covered hills in the hazy distance. On summer mornings I lay quiet in bed for a moment after waking, listening to the breeze rustling the cornstalks. They say you can hear it growing at night. My sissy and I played at the edge of the lawn, where grass and field met. The feed corn was tall – much higher than my head, even taller than my Grandpa. The corn was always there, growing tall and strong, in my memories of summer visits to my grandparents’ dairy farm.
They say that corn crops are failing this summer in the Midwest due to drought. I can’t imagine a summer without corn. Boiled or grilled, slathered with butter and sprinkled with salt, it is the very essence of deep fertile earth, gentle rain and sunshine, distilled into a delightfully messy, handheld summer food.
Have you been eating your share of corn on the cob lately? I hope so. Why not cook an extra ear or two and cut the fresh kernels from the cob to use later in the week? Maybe even save your cobs, silks and husks and try making a batch of corn broth.
This light soup makes excellent use of summer’s bounty of greens and corn. It is particularly good with sturdy, slightly bitter greens, which are balanced by the sweetness of the corn. This version is vegetarian, but if you prefer you can use chicken stock, and if you have leftover chicken in the refrigerator by all means cube it up and use it in place of tofu. Be creative – it is a good opportunity to use up a few odds and ends in from the fridge.
The recipe only makes two generous servings – just enough for one dinner for two, or dinner and then lunch the next day for one, and it’s gone – but can be scaled up to serve a crowd as well.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
3 cups diced greens such as kale or mustard greens, about 1/2 bunch
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon white miso paste
2 cups corn broth (or water or chicken or vegetable stock)
1/2 cup leftover cooked rice
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
4 ounces of firm tofu, cubed, about ½ cup (or use leftover chicken)
squeeze of fresh lemon juice, about 1 tablespoon
salt to taste
Place large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil and diced onions. Cook slowly until onions are soft and transparent but not browned, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, dice greens: roll several leaves into a tight cylinder, then slice into narrow strips. Dice the pile of strips, then repeat process with remaining greens.
Add greens and garlic to saucepan. Cook, stirring frequently, for about five minutes, or until greens have darkened and softened.
Stir in miso paste, then add broth. Raise heat and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add rice, tofu, corn, and lemon juice. Continue cooking until heated through.Taste and add salt if needed.
Makes two servings.