Do you have any dates that for whatever reason you just absolutely cannot get straight in your head? Even though you always remember your best friend’s birthday, all of your siblings’ and your mom’s, but for some reason your dad’s birthday just eludes you? Is it the 5th or the 6th? It’s just me? Fine. Well, this recipe is in honor of my dad, whose birthday is today. Or tomorrow. I’m not sure. My calendar says tomorrow but I swear my sister said it was today. But maybe she just meant they were celebrating today?
At any rate, I know he would love this soup, but he’ll probably never get to try it. You see, my dad always visits me with my mom, but my mom visits me without my dad a lot. This means that I make stuff that my mom would like that my dad would not a lot, but not so much vice versa. And my mom happens to be one of those crazy inexplicable (sorry, Mom) people who dislike corn. Even fresh off the cob, yummy, golden and sweet corn in the middle of summer.
There is no accounting for taste sometimes.
But my dad, like myself, is one of those people who excitedly waits for the first corn of the summer. Usually we eat it off the cob, with salt and butter or lime juice, but I decided to give this recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours a try. My kids had some trouble wrapping their heads around it for some reason (although they made sure to eat the bacon garnish), but John and I loved it. I could have licked the bowl. So Happy Birthday, Dad. Sorry you couldn’t try the soup!
- 4 ears of corn husked and kernels stripped, cobs and kernels reserved
- 3 cups whole milk
- 2 T unsalted butter
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 celery stalk chopped
- 1 carrot chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 cups water
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper to taste I used black pepper, Greenspan likes white
- crispy bacon or caviar
- chopped roasted chile peppers or smoked Spanish paprika
- sour cream or crème fraîche
- sliced green onions
Set aside 1/4 of the corn kernels for garnish.
Place the 4 stripped corn cobs into a saucepan and cover with the milk. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat off. Let the cobs steep in the hot milk while you work on the soup.
Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven (I used 7 qt). Add the onion with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until the onions softens--you do not want color on the onion. Add the celery and carrot with another pinch of salt and cook another 5 minutes. Then add the corn and garlic and cook for another 5-7 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.
Add the water along with the cobs in their steeping milk to the Dutch oven. Also add the herbs (preferably tied for easy retrieval) and a large pinch of salt, to taste. Bring to a boil and then cover, lowering the heat, to maintain a gentle simmer for 20 minutes.
While the soup cooks, prep your garnishes. The reserved corn kernels need to be cooked, as does the bacon if you are using it. Likewise, roast the peppers in the oven on broil if you are using them.
After the 20 minutes are up, taste the soup for salt and pepper. Remove and discard the cobs, thyme sprigs, rosemary sprigs and bay leaf. Puree the soup to your desired smoothness (I like a more rustic, chunky puree, I never put soups through a strainer but you can if you want). Reheat the soup and taste again for salt and pepper--or acid if necessary (I don't think mine needed any but I would not hesitate to add cider vinegar if it needed some oomph). Serve, topped with garnishes, especially lots of corn.
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