Monday, July 20, 2009

Corn Soup and White Bean Bruschetta: A lesson in simplicity

The time? 6:22 pm. The day? Tuesday. The state of affairs? One hour and 23 minutes to grocery shop, cook corn soup and white bean bruschetta, photograph food, and eat dinner before leaving for my church’s young adult evening service.

It was a fool’s mission and I knew it. Even before discovering that Whole Foods had none of the pivotal ingredients I needed for my dinner, I knew I was going to be cutting it dangerously close. And I knew I would be frantically running around the kitchen – scaring my roommate, making a mess of the countertops and potentially cutting off my appendages.

Yet none of this mattered to me as I raced across town to procure the necessary food stuffs from Gelson's market.

I had a vision -- a vision of sweet corn soup with roasted red peppers, leeks and feta cheese that would taste of summer. The red peppers and bite of feta cheese would cut the sweetness of the corn, and the leeks would add depth and additional savory contrast. It would be a thing of beauty – Eric Bana in a bowl, and I had to have it that night.

And, okay fine, some bruschetta with white beans, vine-ripened tomatoes and basil for a side dish.

But whatever. The bruschetta was totally not the point. The only reason I was making it was because I wanted some sort of bread product to go with my soup (bread: soup as peanut butter: jelly) and had been craving bruschetta since watching Julie Powell and her husband devour big juicy pieces in Julie & Julia. I’d throw it together in five flat, and focus most of my energy on the soup – the entire reason I needed to go to Gelson’s at 6:22 pm since Whole Foods only had white corn and my vision demanded yellow corn.

White corn was so not an acceptable pinch hitter.

Once I procured my yellow corn and other fixings, the evening proceeded exactly as I imagined it would – at first. My roommate gawked at me as I roasted my pepper, fried up some leeks for a garnish, boiled corn, and simmered together potato, celery, additional leeks, chicken broth, and corncobs. It was insanity. Pots were bubbling, knives were flying, and I was a crazy person – trying to do too many things at once like a “Top Chef” contestant competing in a Quickfire Challenge.

I was so busy lunging back and forth across the kitchen that I almost forgot my bruschetta. I quickly drained a can of white beans, chopped up a tomato and some basil, and then mixed everything together with salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and a touch of basil-infused olive oil. Three slices of French bread went in the oven to get toasty, and two minutes later I was sitting down to my feast.

I went for the soup first – the piece de resistance. Or so I thought until I tasted the bruschetta. One bite into what is often considered a throwaway appetizer, and I was done for. Soup, who? Soup, what? Despite my extensive efforts to make summer in a bowl, all I wanted to eat was the bruschetta.

Not that the soup was bad. It wasn’t. In fact, my roommate (once he was courageous enough to return to the kitchen) loved my leftovers. But later that night I wasn’t raving to my mom about my golden colored vision – I was raving about the silly beans, tomatoes and bread. A simple dish made eloquent by its fresh ingredients. And perhaps even better because of the effort that didn’t go into it.

Sweet corn soup w/ roasted red peppers, leeks and feta
Serves 2

2 ears of corn, boiled until tender and husked
2 corncobs cut in half
3 cups chicken broth
½ cup chopped leeks
1 new potato, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
½ red pepper, sliced into pieces and roasted in 400 degree oven until tender
Fried leeks (optional garnish – prepare by baking in oven w/ olive oil until just browned)

Sauté leeks and celery in large saucepan. Add chicken broth, salt, pepper, potatoes and corncobs. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until potato is tender (approximately 20 minutes). Remove corncobs and add corn kernals to the pan. Puree with immersion blender or blender until well-combined. Soup will be thick (can add water to thin it at to taste). Reheat in saucepan and then serve topped with red pepper strips, feta and optional fried leeks.

White bean bruschetta
Serves 2

4 pieces French bread sliced to ½ inch thickness
1 large (or 2 small) vine ripened tomatoes
1 tablespoon basil, chopped
1/3 cup white beans
Salt, pepper to taste
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil (or basil infused olive oil)

Toast bread in oven until just toasted. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, basil, white beans, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. When bread is toasted, top with mixture. Drizzle with olive oil.


yutjangsah said...

this looks mighty tasty. i love beans and i love corn. i'm native american like that. which gelson's did you go to? was it the one on santa monica?

Jenn said...

Simple and easy is the way to go. The soup looks really delicious. I've been meaning to cook something with corn lately. I just can't think of anything. I think you may have just given me an idea.

Gastronomer said...

Beans and bread lovers unite.

Diana said...

Sook - Yep, the one on SaMo Blvd. in WeHo! It's my favorite grocery store. :) You going to stalk me now?

Jenn - I have a good salad recipe with corn, strawberries and feta on my blog too if you are interested. It's one of my faves!

Cathy - Our taste buds align once again!

Diana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elra said...

Simply beautiful, simply delicious! Couldn't ask for more really.

The Duo Dishes said...

Sweet summer corn is high on our fave list right now. If you make corn soup again, drop in a little tarragon. It's too good!

Kirby! said...

White bean bruschetta is one of my absolute favorite things to eat. It is also a great thing to bring to a party because it is cheap and vegetarian and EVERYONE LOVES IT because it's so tasty!!

yutjangsah said...

stalk you? of course. i'm outside your workplace now and you're looking fetching in that peach sweater set. heheheh. actually that's MY GELSONS!!! so, we're bound to run into one another.

Esi said...

You are too hilarious. Love this simplicity. I was gonna order white bean bruschetta from Mozza tonight, but damn them for being closed!

Reeni♥ said...

These are both so fresh and wonderful - a great combo. I've never had white bean bruschetta - you make it sound heavenly!

Diana said...

Elra - Thanks! I was pretty pleased with how it photographed. :)

Chrystal & Amir - Thanks for the tarragon tip! I need to get me some of that...

Kirby - I can't believe I've never done it before! It's definitely going into the rotation.

Sook - So weird we've never run into each other before! I'm ALWAYS there! Of course, it is entirely possible that we have been there at the same time but didn't know it because up until a few weeks ago I didn't know you. But now that I do, you better watch out! I'm going to beat you to the jazz apples!

Esi - Drats! You must get there soon! I am dying for you to experience the Mozza!

Reeni - I highly recommend the white bean bruschetta - it is deeelectable!