chilled fresh corn soup with coconut and lime

John brought home a barrel of sweet corn last week.  Fearing another fruit fly invasion, and lacking space in out apartment, I suggested we cover it and put it out on the back porch.  This, it would seem, was not my best and brightest idea.  Remember those mystery animals (raccoons, I think) who ate our tomatoes last year?  Well it would seem they like corn too.  A little nibble here, and little bite there, like the kid who takes a bite of each chocolate to find the best one.  There must have been quite the midnight picnic on our back porch.

Luckily though, it wasn’t all lost – what was left got divvied out to the neighbors and crammed into the bottom shelf of our fridge.  Pearly yellow, sweet, and juicy, we’ve mostly we’ve been eating fresh corn raw in salads or tossed over pasta.  This past weekend though, I decided I needed a corn intervention in the form of chilled corn soup.

The inspiration here is a soup Keith’s been making at Vee Vee lately with Allandale corn cooked and pureed with aromatics, then chilled and finished with a big pour of coconut milk.  Mine came out less coconut-y and a little thicker than his (more corn I think), but generally they are cut from the same stalk (har har.)

In another effort to copy Keith’s soup, I topped mine with chopped avocado and sun gold tomatoes tossed with lime juice, salt, and cilantro.  Hard to go wrong with any of the above, though I ended up thinking the topping choice gave my soup a bit of an identity crisis, conflating the Southeast Asian flavors (coconut, ginger, lemongrass) with the flavors of Mexico (avocado, tomato, lime).  If you don’t mind a little cultural confusion in your soup, go for the avocado; but, if you prefer to keep things simple, and good squeeze of lime and maybe a few chopped herbs is all you need.  Sweet, creamy, and refreshing, with a little kick from jalapeño, we gulped this down for dinner followed by a couple of zucchini cakes.

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Serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as an appetizer.         

For the Corn Stock

  • 8 large ears fresh corn
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, washed, skin-on, and roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ½ jalapeño pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, tough outer skin removed and roughly chopped
  • Big pinch of salt

Cut the corn kernels off of the ears of corn and set aside.  Place the ears and the rest of the ingredients in a large soup pot.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook 20-25 minutes.  Discard the corn ears, drain, and set aside.

For the Soup

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 small potato, peeled and finely diced (for some extra body)
  • Reserved corn kernels from 8 large ears fresh corn
  • 1 recipe corn stock (above)
  • 1 small zucchini, finely diced
  • Salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • The juice of 1 lime, plus more for serving

Heat a medium pot over medium heat and add the olive oil.  Once hot, sauté the onion 3-4 minutes until soft and aromatic.  Add the diced potato and cook another 2 minutes.  Add half the corn kernels along with the corn stock, bring to a boil and cook until the potato is tender – about 5-7 minutes.

Using a hand-held blender or food processor, puree the soup until smooth.  Pass the pureed soup through a strainer (preferably one that’s not too fine.)  Return the strained soup to the pot and add the remaining corn kernels and the diced zucchini.  Bring to a boil and cook until the vegetables are tender – about 2 minutes.  At this point, taste the soup for seasoning – add a little more salt as needed.  Depending on how much liquid was cooked off, you may also want to add a little water at this point to thin the soup – I added about 1 cup.

Chill the soup until it’s ice cold.  You can speed this process by stirring the soup over an ice bath and then refrigerating it.  Before serving, stir in the coconut milk and lime juice.  Taste for seasoning again, adding more lime juice, coconut milk, and/or salt as needed.

Serve in chilled soup bowls with lime wedges on the side.

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