Big corn flavor, some organic sour cream and a little gourmet garnish are the makings of this special soup.
A good time to make it is on the day you freeze sweet corn for winter storage, because it makes use of two by-products of the corn-freezing process. That is, after you blanch the cobs, cut off the kernels and bag them, go back to the “used” ears. Use one hand to stand them up, one at a time, in a large wide bowl and use the back edge of a chef’s knife in your other hand to scrape all the remaining corn bits and juice off each cob. I call the resulting milky mixture “corn essence” because its flavor is so intensely corn-y. Four dozen large ears of corn will yield about 4 to 5 cups of corn essence, which goes into this soup, or can be frozen and used later to flavor other soups, stews, etc.
For the second by-product, go back to the cobs again; this time simmer the “empty” ears for about 20 minutes in the water that you used to blanch the corn. After straining the liquid you’ve got corn stock; whatever you don’t use for this soup can be frozen for future recipes.
The (addictive) crisped shallots used to top this soup come from The Minimalist Cooks at Home, by Mark Bittman.
1. To make the crisped shallots: Place oil in a small, heavy saucepan or skillet to a depth of one inch. Heat the oil for few minutes over a medium-high flame. Add a “test” slice of shallot; if the oil bubbles, it’s hot enough to add all the rest of the sliced shallots. Cook shallots, stirring often and adjusting the heat to keep them bubbling briskly, until brown, 10-12 minutes. Drain on paper towels and salt lightly. (At this point, resistance is futile, but try to save some for the soup.)
2. To make the soup: Heat butter in pot over medium-low flame. Add chopped shallots and cook, stirring often, until tender, 6-10 minutes. Add corn essence, chopped thyme and enough corn stock to reach desired consistency. Simmer 3-5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat. Stir in sour cream. Garnish each bowl with crisped shallots and thyme sprig.
Copyright by Terese Allen