Other than awesome Italian guys, beautiful Italian women, and nice Italian food, Long Island is also known for its sweet corn. So when I got home to a 60-degrees-and-raining late June on Long Island, I knew that the perfect iteration of fresh corn would be in a sweet and spicy corn soup. I love a creamy corn soup, and I was intrigued by this recipe because it doesn’t actually use any cream, it just relies on the natural milkiness of the corn cob that is released when you grate the kernels off. Since someone has been on something of a food bender lately (read: I’m fatty), no cream was an enticing prospect (never you mind that I served this with the cream-filled asparagus egg pie. shhh. shhhhhhhhhh. shush your mouth).
I have to admit, grating 8 ears of corn can wear on a person’s soul, but it’s not nearly as bad as, say, grating mozzarella cheese, or even carrots. Somehow I didn’t grate any of my skin off in the process! I know, daily miracles.
Aside from the corn grating, this soup is so very easy, and so very very good. The chipotle-lime sauce is awesome, herby and just the right amount of kick (and I’m a total baby with spiciness). We served this with some flank steak, and even that was great dipped in the sauce.
It was pretty much the perfect thing for an unnaturally dreary summer day. Now that it’s all hot and humid again, the thought of spicy soup makes my brow sweat. But I can imagine a cool night, out on the deck, beer bottles tinkling, grill still hot, fireflies blinking, when this soup would be the most welcome of dishes. So do yourself a favor and give it a whirl.
No-Cream Creamy Corn Soup with Chipotle-Lime Topping
from the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market Cookbook
8 ears corn, shucked
1 onion, finely chopped
2 ribs celery with leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
4 cups chicken or veggie stock
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
For the Topping
4 chipotle chiles
2 large garlic cloves
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup crema (Mexican creme fraiche) optional
Using the large holes of a box grater set in a deep bowl, grate the corn down to the cob. This will be messy but well worth it. You should have about 5 cups milky pulp. In a wide pot, saute the onion and celery in the oil and butter over medium heat until translucent and soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the corn and stock and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn is tender and the flavors are blended, about 15 minutes. Leave the soup as is or puree with an immersion or stand blender.
To make the topping, soften chiles in water for 4 minutes in the microwave or 10 minutes simmering on the stovetop, then discard the stems and some or all of the seeds (the heat is in the seeds). Using a food processor with the motor running, add the garlic cloves through the feed tube and process until chopped. Add the chiles, cilantro, lime juice, and salt and process until well blended. With the motor running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream until blended. You will have about 3/4 cup. Alternatively, mince the topping ingredients by hand & whisk in the lime juice, salt, and oil.
Pour the soup in bowls and drizzle with the chile mixture (and crema if using).