For this recipe, I toyed with the idea of adding exotic flavors, but as the soup came together, the true simple flavors of fresh tomatoes, corn and bay stood out on their own and seemed better left alone. Fresh bay leaves sauteed in olive oil are always a wonderful but under-appreciated addition to foods. They add indescribable fragrance and a fresh, green rounded flavor that disappears in their dried counterpart. They enhance this soup as well. —creamtea
medium sweet onion, finely minced
rib of celery, finely minced
carrot, finely minced
shallot, finely minced
long sweet red pepper, finely minced
clove garlic, slightly crushed with the flat side of a knife
fresh bay leaves, twisted back and forth along their central veins in several places to release flavor (but left whole for later removal)
scant teaspoon whole peppercorns, placed in a teaball
fine sea salt, or to taste
lb. fresh, full-flavored tomatoes, blanched and peeled if desired, including about 1 lb. plum tomatoes. A flavorful blend of varieties is preferable.
ears corn, cut from the cob, about 1-1/3 cups
Goat's milk yogurt as an accompaniment
scallions, minced, including some green, as a garnish
In a soup kettle, melt butter over medium heat and add olive oil. When fats are hot but not smoking, add onion, celery, carrot, shallot, pepper, garlic, and bay leaves, reduce heat to medium-low, and saute, stirring, until vegetables are tender; if vegetables stick, add additional olive oil.
While vegetables are cooking, core and halve tomatoes crosswise.
Squeeze tomato halves gently over a bowl to remove most of seeds. They don't all have to be removed. Discard seeds.
Chop tomatoes roughly, then add to vegetables in kettle. Cook down slightly until tomatoes begin to release their juices, then add filtered water, peppercorns in teaball, and salt.
Adjust flame to medium, bring just to a boil, reduce flame again and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 45 - 50 minutes until tomatoes have broken down and vegetables are soupy. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt or water as necessary. Remove teaball, garlic clove, and bay leaves. Soup can be prepared up to this point in advance, then reheated. You may puree it at this point if desired, though I prefer it chunky.
Just before serving, reheat soup, add corn kernels, cover for 2-3 minutes until just cooked through and still sweet, then serve in individual bowls. Garnish each serving with a teaspoon or two or goat's milk yogurt and minced scallion or chive, and serve immediately.