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Weekend cooking: corn soup


Corn soup on the left; dregs from smoked turkey stock on the right

Every time I make corn soup I come to the same dilemma: leave the kernels whole or blend them?

Leaving them whole works well for a chowder made with cubed potatoes, bacon, cream and some starch to thicken it.

Pureeing the soup with an immersion blender gives the soup a silky, creamy texture and pure corn flavor without the need for too much added fat. Sadly, this leaves behind an unpleasant dividend: a mouthful of fibrous kernel skin with each bite. You could strain it all out, but the process is laborious and messy, and if you remove all the texture then it somehow doesn’t seem like summer corn anymore.

I came up with a great solution this weekend. After pureeing the soup, I partially strained it with a coarse-mesh strainer, ladling the soup through the strainer back into the same pot a few times. Then I added fresh-cut corn kernels at the end, cooking them for about 10 minutes. The poppy, juicy fresh kernels masked the kernel skin, and the soup had wonderful body and flavor from the pureed corn.

I didn’t measure as I was cooking, so please consider this recipe as a rough guideline. It’s great, though, and worth sharing.

Summer Corn Soup

  • 12 ears fresh corn, kernels removed and milk scraped from cobs
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chopped leek (white part only)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, roasted and freshly ground (trust on this one)
  • 1/4 cup roasted and chopped hot green chile
  • about 2 quarts stock or broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and black pepper
  • diced cooked bacon for garnish (optional lily gilding)

Prepare the corn and reserve about a quarter of it. Fry the onions and the leeks in the bottom of a heavy pot until they are limp and fragrant. Add the three-quarters portion of corn and continue cooking over medium-high heat, stirring constantly,  until it begins to stick and scorch a little on the bottom. Add the cumin and chile and cook for one minute. Add the stock and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pot to remove all browned bits. Simmer for about 30 minutes.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender. You’ll need to shake the copious corn kernel skin from the blender a few times. Using a ladle and a mesh strainer, strain the soup back into the same pot, pressing the ladle into the strainer to squeeze out all the juice. Remove about 4 cups of kernel skin this way.

Add the reserved cut corn and the cream, stir and bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and maybe a bit more cumin.

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

3 comments Add your comment


July 8th, 2013
12:08 pm

I’ve always made my corn soup/chowder by pureeing my corn with the immersion blender and then adding in whole kernels at the end. Never bothered with straining. Saute the aromatics in the bacon grease left from rendering the bacon for the garnish. Add potatoes for chowder, no potatoes for soup. Recipe works well in the winter time with frozen corn as well.

[...] Weekend cooking: corn soup [...]


July 13th, 2013
12:10 am

Corn soup is so delish and good for you too. I love that it is easy to make and a great way to warm up on those cold winter nights. Must admit I have never tried it cold in Summer. I wonder how it would go?
For dessert I would suggest another warm me up type dish or snack. Perhaps a chocolate fondue or a chocolate self saucing pudding or even a freshly baked chocolate brownie.
What a great way to finish off a day!