Sunday, August 29, 2010

Summer Corn Soup

Sadly, fresh sweet corn is just about done for the year. As sad as I am that sweet corn season is nearly over, the arrival of sweet potatoes, apples, and winter squash has me excited for the fall. In a last farewell to summer, I decided to make Summer Corn Soup. Although it was a steamy day, the time and effort spent slaving over the stove was well worth it for the subtle, delightful soup that perfectly features the pure essence of sweet corn and embodies the spirit of hot summer days. This soup is good hot, room temperature, and I bet would even be delightful chilled on a hot day such as today.

After blending the soup I did not pass it through a strainer, as I liked the texture the tiny little pieces of corn kernel add to the soup. I also completely forgot about adding crème fraîche garnish, which I was going to substitute with sour cream, since I already had it on hand. The soup doesn't need the additional enrichment, although I can't imagine it would do the soup a disservice. The soup is subtle and fresh; if you want a more distinctive flavor I would recommend adding chopped jalapeno, poblano, or other favorite pepper either as a garnish, or cooked with the rest of the vegetables.

Summer Corn Soup
from Bon Appetit

3 cups whole milk 
3 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut from cobs, cobs broken in half and reserved 
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter 
1 large onion, chopped 
1 large carrot, peeled, thinly sliced 
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced 
1 garlic clove, pressed 
2 cups water 
2 large fresh thyme sprigs 
2 fresh rosemary sprigs 
1 bay leaf 
Ground white pepper
2 thick bacon slices, diced 
1/3 cup fresh corn kernels cut from about 1/2 ear of corn 
1 green onion, thinly sliced 
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Crème fraîche*, stirred to loosen

1. Bring milk and corncob halves (not kernels) just to boil in heavy medium pot. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep while sautéing vegetables.
2. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; sprinkle with salt and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes (do not let onion brown). Add corn kernels, carrot, celery, and garlic; cook until vegetables are soft, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add 2 cups water, herb sprigs, bay leaf, and milk with corncobs. Increase heat and bring to boil. Cover partially, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes to blend flavors.
3. Discard corncobs, herb sprigs, and bay leaf. Cool soup slightly. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until very smooth. Strain into large bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Season soup to taste with salt and white pepper.  
DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

1. Cook bacon in small skillet over medium heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Transfer to small bowl. Mix in corn, green onion, and pinch of cayenne.  
DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
2. Rewarm soup over medium heat. Divide among bowls. Sprinkle garnish over, drizzle with crème fraîche, and serve. 

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