Warm Corn Soup on a Cool Summer’s Day

One of A. and N.’s summer favorites is corn on the cob, grilled with a little chili powder, salt, oil, and rubbed with fresh lime – a popular Mumbai street cart fare. When I came across corn soup drizzled with a trail of chili oil at Legume, a restaurant in Pittsburgh, the flavor was reminiscent of the familiar charcoal-roasted spicy corn on the cob that I was so used to eating.

Our knowledgeable waiter detailed the cooking process: blanching the corn quickly, removing the kernels and pureeing them, blending the stock made with corn cobs with heavy cream, and finally drizzling chili oil.

I enjoyed the texture and flavor of the corn soup, and so I planned on reinterpreting their soup to create my own version. As I was experimenting with the stock, I realized that I could easily make two other kinds of corn soup using the same base — a popular Indian-fusion version (Chicken Corn Soup) and a Mexican version with green chilies (Sopa de Elote con Chile).

It is the peak season for corn, and I decided to freeze some in order to extend the season and enjoy the vegetable for a little longer. Checking the National Center for Home Food Preservation site for tips on properly freezing corn, I learned that blanching corn (for four minutes), cooling immediately (preferably in ice cold water), draining, and freezing with enough space around the storage container would prevent the pasty taste associated with corn that has absorbed too much water. Quickly blanching or plunging the corn into boiling water stops the enzyme action that would otherwise degrade the color, flavor, and vitamins in the corn. Blanching corn is an important step, and it pays to watch the cooking time closely.

Corn Soup Base:

Corn – 7-8 ears of corn

Water – 6 cups

 

  • Strip the outer husks of the corn cob, starting from the top and working down to the base. Remove any silky tendrils. Check that the kernels are firm. Remove any soft kernels by scooping them out with a knife.
  • Heat the water to a rolling boil in a pan that will hold the cobs (cut them in half if you don’t have a large enough pan).
  • Plunge the corncobs into the water. Blanch them for four minutes precisely.
  • Remove and drain (save the liquid, as this will be the stock) the cobs immediately and plunge them in ice-cold water.
  • Using a sharp knife, and starting from the stalk side, cut the kernels off the cob in one smooth action. Turn the cob and repeat until all the sides are done.
  • Puree the kernels in a blender.
  • Add the cobs back to the liquid and cook for about 15 minutes. Remove and discard the cobs.
  • Use the stock as a base for the following variants:

 

For Corn Soup with Cream: Add 1 tbsp. heavy cream to the hot stock and add back the pureed kernels. Drizzle with chili oil.

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For Chicken Corn Soup: Add 1 ½ tbsp cornmeal to the stock and add back the pureed kernels. Decorate with cooked chicken pieces and spring onion slices.

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For Sopa de Elote con Chile: Add 1 cup of milk and 2 chicken cubes to the hot stock and add back the pureed kernels. Add sautéed green chili and onion mixture to the soup.

 

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