Early October in Illinois walks a weird line between summer and fall. It’s chilly and a little grey, but the farmers market is still full of perfect produce. There are summery green tomatoes— and wintery butternut squash. An autumnal bounty of brussels sprouts– but fresh peaches, like it’s July or some shit. There’s still tits-high piles of sweet corn, but it’s cold enough that we can make a bunch of soup and snuggled down with a sweater. How fucking lucky are we.
Corn soup requires three ingredients (four if you count water) and very little patience or skill to make. Despite the sheer lack of effort, it tastes like… well. It tastes like corn. But like an entire fucking field of it. It is more corn than corn. It is the Optimus Prime of corn. Meta corn. There’s an intensity and creaminess that exceeds the sum of its parts, and that comes for simmering the cobs into a stock. Who knew those chunks of, basically, wood could hold so much yum.
We topped our soup with a few polkadots of scallion oil. The pungent, sulphurous scallions tease out even more sweetness from the corn and balance the overwhelmingly grassy richness. Next time we might throw on some crispy prosciutto or a roasted red pepper (or bacon fat croutons, or some chimichurri shrimp), instead.
- 1 bunch Scallions, with the white ends trimmed off
- 1 cup neutral-tasting Oil-- we've recently made the switch from Olive and Canola to local(ish) Sunflower Oil and are obsessed.
- In a dry pan (or on the grill) over high heat, sear the scallions until they are soft with a few dark, caramely spots on all sides.
- Toss the scallions into a blender (or use an immersion dude) with the oil. Bzz it up until very well pureed.
- Let this puree hang out in the fridge while you make the soup or overnight.
- Using a coffee filter or cheesecloth, strain the green onion solids from the oil but DO NOT SQUEEZE. Squeezing will release the watery liquid from the onions and will cloud your perfect chartreuse oil.
- Use the spent scallions in your morning scramble, aromatics for a pot of chili, a batch of cornbread biscuits, whatever needs some mild oniony goodness.
- Keeps in the fridge for about a week.
- 4 ears Sweet Corn-- farmer fresh, OK?
- 3 qt Water
- 1-2 tbsp Chicken (or “Chicken”) Bouillon
- Salt, to taste, but you won’t need much
- Husk your corn and remove the silks. The Kitchn has a great tutorial if you’re a newb.
- Being careful to not slice down to the woody parts, because, um, they don’t taste good: slice the corn off of the cob and set aside. We like to slice about half way through the kernels using a big chef’s knife. We then go back and scrape the other kernel-half out of the cob with the not-sharp side of the knife. It’s a good insurance policy, and means less of that fibrous coating (pericarp, for the nerds) to blend up (or sieve out) later.
- Cut the spent cobs in half and toss them into a very large pot.
- Cover with cold water and simmer over low heat until the liquid reduces by half. Usually takes about 20 minutes.
- Stir in a tablespoon or two of your bouillon bit by bit, tasting frequently. You want it be rich and savory, not chickeny.
- Add in ⅔ of the sweet corn kernels and simmer the soup for another 10 minutes.
- Using your immersion (or just regular type) blender, puree the soup until velvety smooth. Like, really go to town on this. Take out some aggression.
- Strain the soup using a fine mesh strainer (just in case you shaved a bit of cob off with the corn. no one wants literal fucking wood in soup), and return to the heat.
- Bring back up to a simmer, add in the remaining kernels, and cook for another 5 minutes, just until heated through.
- Season with salt. Don’t bother with pepper. Serve hot with a few drops of Scallion Oil and probably some buttery sourdough bread.