Summer Vegetable Chowder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 sweet red bell pepper strips
1 hot chile pepper, seeded and minced
6 ounces young okra, caps trimmed, pods sliced 1/2 inch
2 large tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and chopped; juice included
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or raw
1-1/2 cups cooked black beans, drained
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
1-1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
Seasonings: 1 tomato cut in wedges, for garnish (other seasonings are optional)
Over low flame, heat the oil in a large pot and soften the onion and garlic, stirring. Add the peppers and cook for about 5 minute, then the okra, and continue to cook, still stirring from time to time, for 5 minutes or more.
Add the tomatoes, corn, black beans, and 1 cup water; cover and simmer for 15 minutes more.
You can serve the vegetable chowder now, simmered briefly, to enjoy it crunchy with bright fresh flavors, or simmer it longer to produce more of a stew. Thin to taste with more water.
Shortly before serving, season Summer Vegetable Chowder with your favorite herbs, stirring them slowly into the chowder.
If desired, for a touch of elegance, add a pinch of saffron threads. See also: Saffron Substitutes.