Cheery sweet corn bisque is the essence of summer - all that golden sunshine collected in a bowl.
I'm a garden eater.
I love munching on fresh garden peas, and popping sun-ripe cherry tomatoes in my mouth as I stroll the rows in my garden. I love pulling a young sweet carrot, wiping the dirt on my jeans, and crunching it as I walk. I love nibbling on fresh basil leaves and dill fronds, and stuffing lettuce leaves into my cheeks to chew. I even love snapping off young beans or zucchini to gnaw on.
But my absolute favourite garden treat comes in late summer, when the corn is finally ripe. I wait and watch for those silks to turn brown. I feel the cobs, looking for heft and solidity. As soon as I find a cob that's filling out nicely, I break it from the stalk and peel back the husk. I pull off the silk and greedily bite into the crisp, milky kernels. The sweet juices of the corn sometimes squirt as I chomp, and I am not delicate as I work my way around the cob like a hungry beaver. There are sticky bits of corn on my face, but I am grinning with pleasure.
If you've never eaten a raw cob of corn fresh from the garden, you need to try it some day.
It's the taste of summer.
And if you can't get to a garden, a bowl of this sweet corn bisque is the next best thing.
It's simple and pure - just fresh corn and a few other ingredients. You cook the cobs along with the soup to get even more intense corn flavour. The bisque is velvety smooth and creamy, with little pops of corn kernels to please your tongue and give each spoonful some texture.
Before I had a garden, I used to buy a sack or two of fresh corn every fall. I'd cook up a big vat of this soup (in my enamel canning pot) and freeze it in containers to pull out on grey winter days when we needed a reminder of the summer's glory.
Having frozen blocks of this soup in the freezer is better than a stash of gold bullion in the bank.
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Sweet Corn Bisque
- 5 large ears of fresh, sweet corn, husked
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely diced
- 1 stalk celery, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups (1 litre) water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- chopped green onions, chives, or cilantro/coriander leaves for garnish, optional
Cut the kernels from the raw cobs of corn with a sharp knife. It works well to place a cutting board in a rimmed cookie sheet to catch the kernels. (Don't worry if you don't get all the kernels - you'll scrape the cobs later.) Set aside.
In a large soup pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for about two minutes, until translucent. Add the turmeric and coriander and cook for one more minute.
Add the bay leaf and water, then add the corn kernels and the cobs. Break the cobs in half if needed to fit into the pot. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Use tongs to remove the cobs from the soup. Set them on the cutting board to cool slightly. Scoop one cup of the cooked corn kernels from the soup and set them aside. Remove the bay leaf.
Scrape the cobs to get all the last bits of corn and the sweet hearts from each kernel. Return all the scrapings to the soup, and discard the cobs.
In a blender or food processor, puree the soup in batches until it is smooth and creamy, or use an immersion blender in the pot.
Return the blended soup to the pot, and add the reserved corn kernels, salt, and white pepper.
Serve hot or cold.
Serves 4 to 6.
*This soup freezes well.
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