Summer is officially over when you buy the last fresh ears of corn. As we drove to Flint Farm, we were told that this was the last day for corn. We arrived just in time. I kept telling Jeff that I wanted to make some type of corn soup or chowder since it would be perfect for a cool autumn evening.
While we were in Maine, last month taking cooking lessons, we made a delicious corn soup with lobster. It was a completely blended soup and I was looking for something that had more corn left in the broth. The only true test of corn chowder I have is my mother adding a can of milk to a can of creamed corn and calling that corn chowder. Not a great reference point.
I found this recipe from Epicurious called Summer Corn Soup and it was written by Dorie Greenspan. When I went into her "Around My French Table" Cookbook, I realized it was one of her recipes. Just a quick plug, if you want to buy a great gift for your favorite cook, definitely consider this cookbook. Jeff and I love the book and it has amazing recipes. We took the original version and adapted it.
As we were putting the recipe together we realized that we would need to double the recipe. At our house, a recipe serving 4 will not cut it. As we shucked the corn, there definitely wasn't enough corn (for my liking) so we added more. Once we got all the vegetables cooked and added the herbs, we found the herbs fell off the sprigs as the mixture came to a boil. The flavor was great but I didn't enjoy fishing all the rosemary out of the soup. Our recommendation is to place it in cheese cloth. Easier and less messy to remove.
Lastly, when it called for you to blend and strain the soup, we decided to only blend 1/2 of the soup and not strain any portion of it. It allowed the base to thicken and left a filling in the soup. We steamed two lobster ahead of time and had lobster meat ready to go. Lobster first, soup second, bacon and scallions to garnish. Grab spoon and and say Ahhhhh.
The soup a.k.a. corn chowder was amazing. It was so fresh and the flavor was distinct with every bite. The lobster was moist and the bacon give a slight smokiness to the dish. It was perfect for a cool night in October.
As we enjoyed the corn soup for lunch, I was disappointed that I might not be able to make this soup again until next year. You need the freshness of the corn kernels and the cobs to add that additional flavor. I did say to Jeff that I will attempt this soup again with some frozen ingredient. Not sure I will get the same freshness, but I might be able to re-create the memory in the winter. It might be a faint memory but I will try!
3 cups whole milk
4 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut from cobs, cobs broken in half and reserved
3 tablespoons of butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled, thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 cups water
2 large fresh thyme sprigs
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 bay leaf
Salt and white pepper to taste
cooked lobster meat from 1 1/2 pound lobster, coarsely chopped
2 thick bacon slices, diced
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1. Bring milk and corncob halves (not kernels) just to boil in heavy medium pot. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep while sautéing vegetables.
2. Melt butter in dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion; sprinkle with salt (about 1/4 teaspoon) and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add corn kernels, carrot, celery, and garlic; cook until vegetables are soft, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Place herbs and bay leaf in cheese cloth or herb bag. Add 2 cups water, herbs, and milk with corncobs.
3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, partially cover with lid and simmer 20 minutes to blend flavors.
4. Remove corncobs, herb sprigs, and bay leaf. Cool soup slightly. Working in batches, puree 1/2 of the soup mixture in a blender or food processor. This will give a thicker consistency while leaving filling within the broth. Add salt and white pepper to taste.
5. If using lobster, add 1/4 to 1/3 cup of chopped lobster to the bottom of each serving bowl, spoon the soup over the lobster, garnish with chopped bacon and scallions. Enjoy!
Makes 4-6 servings.