Corn and courgette soup

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This soup might sound too plain and simple to be very interesting, but it is very delicious.  It is the first soup I was asked to make at Chez Panisse, and I've made it several times since at work and at home.  (It was not the soup that ended up in the compost, so you can trust me on this one.)  It is creamy, sweet and delicious.  The trick is to get a good balance between corny and courgettey flavours.  You might be tempted to substitute tinned corn for cobs, but please don’t.

Smbobscorn0001.jpgWe are still getting corn here, but I guess the season may have ended in the UK - ?  Judging by the Halloween decorations ALREADY out on our neighbours' houses, it must be 'fall', so I guess recipes will be moving over to the celeriac/potato/roast meat variety quite soon.  I'm going to have to send you one more corn recipe first though, as there are just too many important corn facts I feel compelled to write up.  For instance, did you know that one quarter of the c.45,000 products sold in the average American supermarket contain corn?  Find out more about corn's domestication of the human race next week...
Recipe:  Corn and courgette soup.pdf

Serves:  4 as a starter or 2 for lunch
Time:  1 hour or less

4 cobs of sweet corn, husks and silky threads removed
2 litres (8½ cups) water
2 sprigs of thyme
2 stalks of parsley
a bay leaf
olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 small-medium green courgette, sliced
1 small-medium yellow courgette, sliced

For the garnish:
30g (2 tbsps) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ tsp finely minced parsley leaves
½ tsp finely minced chives
good pinch of chilli flakes
few drops green Tabasco sauce (if you happen to have it)
½ tsp lime juice, or to taste
salt and pepper

  1. Cut corn kernels off cobs with a knife.  Place cobs in a big saucepan with the water and herbs to make a corn stock.  Bring to a boil and then simmer until needed.  It will reduce a bit, which is fine.
  2. Cook onions in some olive oil with a pinch of salt.  They should go completely soft without colouring at all, so use a low heat, lay some parchment paper over the onions to trap the steam, and stir regularly.
  3. When onions are totally soft, add corn kernels and a pinch of salt and cook over a low-medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Do not let the onions or corn colour.
  4. Add courgettes to corn and onions.  Lift cobs out of the stock and then pour stock through a sieve onto the vegetables.  You may not want to use all the stock - just add enough so vegetables can move around easily when stirred, but are not totally swamped by liquid.  Reserve remaining stock.
  5. Add another good pinch of salt to the soup, bring to a boil and simmer until the courgettes are tender but still hold their shape well.  Take off the heat and let cool for a few minutes.
  6. While the soup is cooking you can make the compound butter garnish.  Mash all of the ingredients together with a fork until well-mixed and smooth.  Store in fridge until needed.
  7. Puree soup in batches in a blender until totally smooth.  At this point you could let the soup cool completely and then keep chilled until needed.  Return soup to saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Add more stock (or water) if it’s too thick.  Taste and add more salt if needed.  Serve garnished with a dollop of the butter, which the diner can swirl into their soup.
Learn more about corn here...

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Culinary Anthropologist