Soups and Stews for Summer

I can’t stop thinking about Yewande Komolafe’s delicious version of asaro. She published her recipe for the southern Nigerian dish a couple of years ago, after a trip to Lagos, and its perfect for when you’re craving something with a bit of warmth and substance.

Her version is summery — light, brothy and deeply satisfying — sweet with coconut milk, packed with starchy yams, greens and unripe plantains, and tingling with a single habanero, which bobs happily around the pot, gently infusing the dish with a little floral heat. When it’s time to eat, cover it with fresh herbs like basil and cilantro, and season it with a big squeeze of lime juice.

One of the best parts of this dish is how it accommodates a variety of ingredients. ​If you can get West African yams, excellent, reach for those! But feel free to use white and orange yams, or white and purple taro root. When it comes to the greens, use whatever is near and good: collards, dandelion greens, kale, chard, mustard greens, spinach or a big mix.

Because you pour out some of the extra cooking fat, you’ll be left with a little scallion oil — it’s pure gold! Use scallion oil instead of olive oil in a salad dressing, or bring it into play in the first step of this recipe for vibrant greens and beans from Rick Martinez, a quick, vegetable-loaded braise with chard, green beans and edamame.

I love this category of one-pot summer stews, where a light but flavorful stock forms as you cook the vegetables. If you’ve got the ingredients for a pesto, try a minestrone al pesto or soupe au pistou — a spoonful of the thick herby mixture dissolves into the soup at the last minute.

And if you’re looking for a new pesto recipe, check out Kay Chun’s, which is made with smoked almonds and smoked paprika. She dresses hot peas and pasta with that smoky pesto, but it would be just as welcome in one of those summery soups, as the base in a roast vegetable galette or spread in a simple tomato sandwich.