It was hard to resist the big pile of fresh corn at the store this week. Normally I would just butter those bad boys and pop them on the grill, but after stumbling across this Dorie Greenspan recipe on bonappetit.com I decided soup was in order.
Hot soup may seem silly in the summer, but I got lucky with the weather this past weekend after a drop in temperature arrived along with some drizzly rain. Stirring a simmering pot of soup is a lot more tolerable when it's not simmering hot outside.
Buyer beware: this recipe is not a one-pot wonder. It's more of a multi-pot marvel and is well worth the extra clean-up after tasting the wonderful combination of summer corn, fresh herbs and bacon.
To start remove the corn kernels from the cobs and set them aside. To make this easy I used a wide bowl with a smaller inverted bowl inside it. I held the cobs upright on the smaller bowl and ran my knife down the cob - the kernels fell right into the big bowl and not all over the counter.
Now for the cobs -- don't throw them away! This soup gets it's rich corn flavor from milk that's been infused with the cobs. Just toss them in a pot with 3 cups whole milk and bring it to a boil. Then remove the pot from the heat and set it aside. Let those cobs steep in the milk while you get the rest of the soup ready. Trust me, you won't be sorry.
While the cobs are soaking in their milk bath melt a couple tablespoons of butter in a stock pot over medium heat. Add one diced onion with a couple pinches of salt and cook for around 5 minutes or until the onions are softened, but not browned. Then add one diced carrot, one diced celery stalk, and a smashed garlic clove...
Oh, and the corn kernels! Don't forget those... I was supposed to reserve 1/3 cup of the kernels for the garnish, but I forgot and, you know what? It didn't matter in the end.
Cook all this goodness for about 10 minutes. You want the veggies to be soft.
Next, add 2 cups of water, the milk and corncobs, 2 sprigs each of rosemary and thyme and a bay leaf. Turn the heat up and bring it all to a boil.
Once boiling reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 20 minutes or so to blend all the flavors.
While the soup is simmering pull together the garnish components -- you don't want to skip this part!
Cook 2 slices of diced bacon until crispy. Here's what my set up looked like at this point... small pan for the bacon, medium pot for the cobs and milk, and a large stock pot for everything else.
Once the bacon has crisped up drain it on a paper towel. Then chop up some chives. The original recipe calls for green onion, but I followed a suggestion in one of the comments to use chives instead -- they have great fresh flavor, but are a bit more delicate.
Once the soup has had time to simmer remove the cobs, herb sprigs and bay leaf. Using an immersion blender puree the soup to desired texture. The original recipe recommends straining the soup after pureeing, but I didn't feel it was necessary. At this point, take a taste and season with some additional salt - just enough until it tastes good to you.
Ladle into a bowl and top with the bacon, chives and a dollop of something creamy like sour cream (what I used) or creme fraiche. A little fresh ground pepper isn't a bad idea either.
The sweetness of the corn really shines through and is complemented nicely by the smoky bacon. This multi-pot marvel is well worth the effort!