One of the simplest ways to showcase the bright, sweet taste of corn is to make corn soup. With corn as the focal point, you can include a variety of other vegetables to create light soups or thick and creamy chowders. You can use fresh or frozen corn in your soup; to add a depth of flavor and a hint of smokiness to your dish, try roasting the kernels.
Peel away the husks and strands from fresh ears of corn, and then use a sharp knife to gently slice away the kernels. Substitute frozen corn if fresh is not available. Defrost frozen cobs or kernels by placing them into a colander in the sink and running cold water over them. Let the corn drain thoroughly before you slice the kernels off the cobs or use loose kernels. The cobs can be reserved and cooked in water, broth or milk to extract every last bit of the sweet corn taste. Cut the cobs into 2-inch pieces and place them into a pan with the liquid. Heat the liquid to a simmer, and cook the cobs for 30 minutes. Discard the cooked cobs and use the liquid in your soup or chowder recipe.
Roasting the Corn
For another flavor variation, roast the corn kernels in the oven prior to making the soup. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the corn with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the kernels in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until the kernels start to slightly brown. Take care not to overcook the kernels -- for the best results, the corn should be golden but still tender.
Light Corn Soups
You can make corn soup with water, vegetable broth or chicken broth. Combine the corn with savory vegetables such as onions, garlic, celery and red peppers. In a large saucepan, saute chopped onions, sliced celery and garlic in butter or olive oil. Saute until the onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the prepared corn and diced red pepper to the pot and saute for a few minutes more. Add the broth to the pan and bring it to a low boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and season the soup with salt, pepper and paprika. Let the soup simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Garnish the soup with chopped fresh parsley, chives or cilantro before serving.
To create a rich chowder, add milk or cream to the corn soup, along with potatoes. Place onions, celery and garlic into a saucepan and saute in butter for 6 minutes. Add the cooking liquid and diced potatoes and cook until the potatoes are softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the corn and the milk or cream; simmer for 15 minutes until the soup has thickened. To add smokiness, saute chunks of bacon with the onions, celery and garlic. Garnish the soup with fresh chopped herbs or finely sliced scallions and a dollop of creme fraiche before serving.
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Candi Canncel is a writer covering food and drinks, travel and lifestyle. Her work has appeared on Food and Wine Travel, Craft Gossip, Belltown Local and other publications. She also teaches cooking classes and hosts food/wine seminars.
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