Soup · Vegetarian

While we’re at it…

Let’s talk about summer soups.  Love them?  Loathe them?  Do you prefer cold and icy, like gazpacho, or do you think hot soup is the only way to slurp?  I’m torn, really: I love hot soup, and considering I put the a/c on during the summer, there’s no reason not to eat something hot.

Since tomatoes have a week or so until they reach their summer prime (gazpacho is out for now), lately my mind has been on corn.   We’ve had our fair share of corn on the cob, tossed in garlic and basil brown-butter, or saffron infused French butter, or plain with lots of sea salt and pepper.  Corn eaten off the cob (with dental floss nearby for afterward) is the ultimate summer side; it’s always messy, and wet, and fun (especially for me, since I spent years and years of my childhood in braces, corn on the cob-less).  But corn on the cob every night, no matter how much you change up the condiments, can get tedious.

So, when I was jolted back into soup-mode with zucchini basil soup last week, I got a hankering for corn soup.  Corn soup, in my experience, has always been heavy, made with cream, or whole milk—more creamed corn than corn soup.  But, like I mentioned last post, I’m in teeny bikini mode right now, with another visit out to the Hamptons very soon, and heavy cream is a definite no-go.

I opted for a simplistic version, the corn purist’s corn soup.  A dozen ears of corn go into it with a few cups of water and some salt.  Easy-peasy.  Except that cutting corn off the kernel takes some time, not to mention the husking (the annoying price you pay for fresh corn), but if you give yourself a quarter hour or so to prep, it’s no problem.  Unless your immersion blender breaks: looks as if it’s working, sounds as if it’s working, with the blade spinning around like it could lob off a steel-plated thumb, but it isn’t freaking working, not blending a damn thing, and you haven’t used a stand blender to blend soup in years and you hardly know how it works, and you picked today of all days to have not one but two pots of soup on the stove-top that need to be pureed because wouldn’t it be stress-relieving to have enough soup to last through the weekend; and you fill up the blender halfway with hot-hot corn and press puree and it promptly spits boiling liquid all over your arms and face and the ceiling and you thank the gods that you bought yourself a proper apron last week and that you didn’t choose to cook in that teeny bikini of yours and your eyes start to water and your chin crinkles up and you feel yourself start to cry, but you stop. Because Jim isn’t home and crying over your boo-boos isn’t the same when your muscle-bound fiance’s not there to wipe your tears.

Unless that happens, you should be alright.  Just make sure you put a towel over the cover of the blender and you hold it down like your life depends on it as you press the purée button.  If you’re not a stickler, you could get away with straining the blended soup once through a medium sieve, though I ran it through a food mill and then a sieve, pressing the solids dry as it passed through the sieve with the rounded back of a ladle.

On first bite, this soup makes a statement: I am corn! Corn it is, purely, like corn on the cob intensified, with no starchiness, or skins stuck in your teeth.  It’s almost too much, a bowlful of pure corn flavor just may be too, uhh… corny.  To cut the flavor, I added a flurry of freshly ground black pepper and a hefty snipping of chives.  The result, with the oniony bite and peppery kick, is perfection. I hope you get a chance to make it this weekend, before the perfect tomatoes take over, when corn is still king.

Fresh Corn Soup

adapted from Gourmet Magazine

  • corn kernels cut from 12 ears of corn
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • handful of fresh chives
  • freshly ground black pepper

Simmer corn with salt in the water, covered, 20 minutes, or until very tender.

Purée soup in batches in a blender until very smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). As each batch is puréed, pour through a coarse sieve, pressing on solids, into a saucepan.  (Or you can pass it through a food mill, then a sieve, or through a sieve more than once, to get a flawlessy smooth soup.)

Reheat soup, stirring. If soup is too thick, thin with water.

With scissors, snip a good amount of chives into each bowl, and sprinkle with black pepper to taste.

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37 thoughts on “While we’re at it…

  1. I did that blender thing….omg, ouch. And what a flipn’ mess when all you want is soup! From what I understand- and even though I KNEW this!- is that if you fill the blender more than half full, it will burst. Pureed in smaller amounts keeps it less painful and messy. Who knew hot liquids could expand so much!

    Corn soup is one of my absolute favorite soups, the more corn flavor the better, and now I’ve got corn soup on the mind. With caramelized leeks, yet another current obsession and maybe zucchini (even though I’m itching to make the Zucchini Basil soup of late…) Maybe I’ll have to bring corn home from the market today.

    1. It’s so hard to restrain yourself to half-full, when you are so close to having soup!

      I can’t decide which I like better, the corn or the zucchini soup. The corn is maybe more indulgent, the zucchini could pass for a meal. Try both! 😉

  2. I love soups in summer – hot, cold or in between. This one sounds fabulous (and I, too, have done the volcano of hot splatter all over myself – ouch).

    We’re having our first corn of the season tonight. I can’t wait. 🙂

    1. Volcano it is! 😛

      Enjoy tonight! I still haven’t decided what we’ll have… we stocked our freezer full of chicken, pork, and duck from my favorite local farmer, but I procrastinated too much to have anything thawed by tonight. Maybe we’ll get some corn ourselves.

  3. oh no! so sorry to hear about your immersion blender breakdown. but very happy to see that you were still able to create a perfectly delicious looking soup!

  4. I love corn soup. I got addicted to Corn Chowder last summer from Kristin’s blog (Kitchen Sink) and corn is just starting to hit the markets and I am very excited. Nothing like having really good soup frozen to just thaw out and warm and pair with a simple salad for dinner.

    Not gonna lie, I laughed out loud when I got to the world ceiling. Sorry your immersion blender pooped out on you.

  5. Bee-yoo-tiful photo of the corn chowder in the blue bowl. That alone makes me want to eat it. Of course then reading your fresh ingredient list only confirms it. I love summer soups — but also find that I tend not to eat them as much. Beets make another of my favorite warm-season soups.

  6. Wow. Everyone’s doing soup right now, it seems. Tomato soup, now corn soup, and I just finished eating a creamy borage soup — bright green and cucumber-y. I am thinking I might make this corn soup — only add saffron — buzz it hard in a robot coupe, strain it and serve it alongside the borage soup and a tomato soup. A color explosion!

    1. Saffron would be amazing. And I was thinking that it would look great with a green soup, three colors sounds purdy. And you have a robot coupe at home? ::Jealousy::

  7. I love soups and have come to love them being chunky rather than smooth as I find it such a fiddle to puree. It’s also more washing up I’m not that keen on. Great recipe. Just need to wait for the corn season down here in the southern hemisphere!

  8. Like Becky and the Beanstalk, I thought the photos of the corn soup in the Fiesta bowl was stunning.
    We’ve accumulated many pieces of Fiesta through the year and I always serve my soups in them.
    Gazpacho? Great in Fiesta Yellow. Your Zucchini Soup with Basil? Fiesta White. The possibilities are endless.

    1. Thank you. I’ve been thinking of putting a few different colors of Fiestaware on my wedding registry, instead of getting a set of one color (right now I have most cobalt). I can’t wait to get some Fiesta White.

      Do you have the pitcher? I love it–reminds me of a bird.

      1. I only collect vintage fiesta. The modern Fiesta is nice, but I prefer my dishware to contain radioactive uranium (just kidding). Yes, I have several pitchers of different sizes and colors.
        You can find a good supply from various auctions…Alderfer Auctions in Hatfield, PA has at least one sale a year and there’s always eBay, if you don’t want to drive.

  9. I do not have air conditioning in NYC or my house in the Catskills but it gets cold at night sometimes upstate. I think this would be PREFECT for such an evening. This looks FANTASTIC:)
    I love how simple it is, really lets the gorgeous corn flavor be itself:)

  10. I have had the same mental conversation with myself about there being no reason not to have hot soup in summer as long as you have A/C, and I do, so why not? While I haven’t been deluged with corn recently, I have had turnips – loads of turnips – in my last CSA box and my mind immediately went to soup. I think the thing is with a lot of veggies – they get so much better in soup! I feel vindicated after reading this post, and I think I will do something about it.

    1. My favorite thing to do with turnips is to fry them in bacon fat, until they are crisp outside with tender, creamy centers. But soup would be fab… maybe even a chilled summer turnip soup?

  11. I love this post — the writing, photos, all of it is just gorgeous. (ps: I’m sorry to hear of your mishap, however! I’ve been there!)

  12. This has to be one of the freshest tasting soups out there. When corn is perfect and sweet, there’s no need to do a lot to it; I can’t wait to try this. My trip to the farm tomorrow morning will now have more corn involved than originally anticipated. Excellent.

  13. So delicious! I used a relatively fine mesh sieve to strain the soup in order to get it super smooth. Any suggestions on what to do with the leftover solids (I must have about a quart worth)? It seems like they should somehow be able to be transformed into fritters, muffins, bread . . .

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