Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Yet Another Corn (Maize) Soup

Few things herald the onset of summer more categorically than the appearance of fresh corn at grocery stores, farmer's markets, and cookouts. When I was a kid, it seemed like we ate corn on the cob all summer long - which is probably one of those nostalgic misapprehensions to which we are all prone when it comes to childhood memories - but even if it was true, it would have been fine with me, because I never got tired of the stuff. Here in Massachusetts, June is still a bit early for local corn (July-August is pretty much peak season), but the first ear to show up on my plate at a party or a BBQ still has the power to make me feel a little giddy inside.

If there is one truth universally acknowledged when it comes to buying corn, it's that one becomes inappropriately excited, and way too much gets brought home. Since corn should really be eaten immediately after cooking, the leftover ears wind up looking a bit forlorn, which is where soup comes in. I've been writing this blog for nearly two years now, and each summer - this being the third! - I've posted a recipe specifically designed to maximize the potential of this inevitable surplus. The version below is fairly simple, yet sort of beautifully herby and pure: no fake bacon, no potatoes, not much fat, just lovely corny goodness. We made this the night after a wonderful evening with our dear friends Andy and Heather, who kindly sent us on our way with the relict cornivorous bounty of a ginormous feast - for which we gave heartfelt thanks, because the results were delicious! (You can see the entire exchange depicted in the image above; I just really hope they washed those blankets we gave them in return!)

Yet Another Corn (Maize) Soup

~ 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
~ 2 cups chopped leeks
~ 2 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1/2 cup each: diced celery, carrot
~ Kernels from 8-10 ears cooked sweet corn (about 6 cups)
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, thyme, parsley, ground rosemary, dill
~ 2 tsp. tarragon
~ Fresh black pepper
~ 1/2 cup dry white wine (cooking wine is okay)
~ 2 15 oz. cans lite coconut milk (4 cups)
~ 3 cups unsweetened almond (or other non-dairy) milk

~ In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook for a few minutes.
~ Add the garlic, celery and carrots, and seasonings; sauté another 5-7 minutes.
~ Stir in the sweet corn and make sure it gets all cozy and well-acquainted with the oil, spices, other veggies, etc.
~ Cook the vegetables for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, then pour in the wine to deglaze the pan; stir everything around and cook another minute or two.
~ Stir in the coconut milk and one cup of the almond milk, then cover and bring to a simmer.
~ Reduce heat to low, and simmer, partially covered (just crack the lid of the pot an inch), for 20 minutes.
~ Remove from heat and add the remaining almond milk.
~ With an immersion blender, partially puree the soup; you don't want it completely smooth like bisque, it should still have a bit of texture.
~ Return to heat, being careful not to boil, and serve hot, or at room temperature, if it's a sultry summer night.


  1. Yeah corn ROCKS!
    This soup sounds AMAZING! I'm loving the addition of coconut milk.

  2. I'm pretty much in love with coconut milk, full stop; it adds a really nice richness, without being too heavy. (NB I did use the "lite" kind, rather than the high test!)

  3. Dear Desdemona,

    I found you by accident discussing 'From school to the slaughterhouse' on the Guardian website. It was uplifting to see such an enlightened individual contributing to the discussion positively - each of your responses to the 'rebuttals' you received were eloquent, almost flawless snippets of watertight reasoning. A joy to behold! Kudos for your efforts, and warm regards,

  4. Hey, Chris - nice to "meet" you, and thanks very much for the kind words! I rarely engage in debate in that sort of forum - for reasons that are usually pretty obvious - but I must say that I'm always so impressed by the intelligence and thoughtfulness of most Guardian posters. It's actually possible to have a reasonable, adult discussion, without being subjected to a barrage of personal insults and textspeak - very refreshing!