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.