Summer alphabet soup

(Styling/Lisa Falso; Photo by John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
By Julie Riven
Globe Correspondent / July 22, 2009

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Serves 4

4 plum tomatoes
4 ears fresh corn, husked
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 clove garlic, peeled
8 cups water
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup alphabet pasta or other small pasta such as flakes, orzo, or baby shells
1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. With the tip of a small knife, remove the cores from the tomatoes. With a slotted spoon, drop them into the boiling water. Count to 15. Remove the tomatoes from the water and transfer to a colander. Rinse with very cold water.

2. When the tomatoes are cool, use your fingers to peel away the tomato skins. Working over a bowl, use kitchen shears to halve the tomatoes. Snip them into coarse chunks; set aside.

3. Lay an ear of corn on a cutting board. Working from the wide end to the pointed end, remove about 4 rows of kernels. Turn the cob and cut off more kernels, about 4 rows at a time. Continue until the corn kernels are removed from all the ears. Save the corn cobs.

4. In a soup pot, heat the oil and when it is hot, add the onion, carrots, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until the vegetables soften.

5. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring for 3 minutes more.

6. Pour in the water and add the corn cobs. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer the soup for 15 minutes. Use tongs to remove the cobs from the soup.

7. Add the corn, green beans, zucchini, and alphabets. Return the soup to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the alphabets and vegetables are tender. Add more water during cooking if the mixture seems too thick.

8. Taste the soup for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.