On Saturday, as my family and I were driving through Skagit Valley, we noticed something: the corn growing along the way was hardly “as high as a elephant’s eye.” Actually, it was about as high as a Labrador’s eye. But the local corn situation (or lack thereof) didn’t keep me from trying a recipe courtesy of local chef Mark Fuller. For last night’s dinner, I prepared the “Easy Summer Corn Soup” from his Spring Hill restaurant newsletter. It’s certainly easy to make — so long as you’ve got a blender or food processor and fine mesh sieve or Chinois. And doesn’t it look elegant? Next time I’ve serving this to company.
Corn soup: garnished with a chopped prawn, black pepper and fresh basil from the Trader Joe’s plant I keep handy on my kitchen counter.
Late corn notwithstanding, I purchased some especially sweet corn out of Brentwood, California at my local supermarket and went to work. Below, find chef Fuller’s recipe with my tweaks and notes. Feel free to experiment by tweaking it to suit your taste, and fancy:
EASY SUMMER CORN SOUP [serves four]
8 plump ears of sweet corn [Note: when buying corn, look for fresh (not dry) corn-silk tassels, and ears that feel solid and hefty in your hand.]
Additional liquid, as needed. Fuller suggests using a quality store-bought vegetable stock or heavy cream. [Note: I considered using chicken stock but instead used a few hefty splashes of 2 percent milk. Worked like a charm.]
Kosher or sea salt, to taste.
Garnish: Your call. A spoonful of Dungeness crab would be impressive, but with the price of crab, I suggest doing as I did and buying a few fresh prawns instead. [I cooked and chopped mine, you might buy them pre-cooked and garnish whole.] Next time, I’m leaving some corn kernels uncooked, which would look great coupled with a cherry tomato.
Tools for prep/cooking: a rimmed cookie sheet; sharp knife; blender or food processor; fine mesh sieve or Chinois; a medium saucepan; wooden spoon or heat-resistant spatula.
1) Using the rimmed cookie sheet to capture runaway kernels, grab the corn by its cut end, hold upright, and slice the raw corn kernels from the cob.
2) Puree the corn kernels in a blender or food processor, in batches if necessary. [I used my mini food-processor. Next time I’m bringing out the big one.]
3) Pass the puree through a fine mesh sieve or Chinois. Do your best to extract as much liquid as possible. [Note: If you have neither, I’ll bet a fine-holed metal colander would work in a pinch, and if too many solids come through, use a mesh strainer or other mesh kitchen tool to separate the milk from the solids.] You should end up with 3-plus cups of corn-milk.
4) Discard solids and pour the liquid into a medium saucepan. Over medium high heat, stir the corn-milk continuously with a wooden spoon or heat-resistant rubber spatula until the liquid begins to thicken, and remove from heat. [Don’t go do the dishes, like I did, or the corn-milk will scorch. And don’t let it thicken too much or you’ll have corn pudding!]
5) Depending on the starch content of your corn, you may need to thin the soup [see: additional liquid, above]. Season to taste. [I used only sea salt, plus a grind of black pepper in order to maintain — but not obscure — the sweet corn flavor]. You may cool and reheat the soup, or chill it and thin it with additional un-cooked corn milk, says chef Fuller.
So, do you have any other easy ideas for making good use of fresh corn? Feel free to suggest them, or link to other summer corn recipes you like.