I adapted it from one of my favorite cookbooks, Annie Somerville’s Field of Greens. She has you make a vegetarian stock with the corn cobs (adding a potato, some celery, garlic, salt and parsley), which I do if I’m having vegetarians for dinner. But I just cook the corn cobs in a light chicken broth if I’m making it for omnivores, and it works fine. Also, she runs the soup through a food mill. I’ve never had the patience to do that, and it tastes great without. But if you want a satin smooth base, you can do that.
This recipe makes enough for about eight people. It’s yummy and keeps well. But you can easily halve it and have plenty for four. It takes about an hour from start to finish, about half of it “active time” as they say in the world of cookbooks.
Summer Corn and Red Pepper Soup
5 C light chicken stock or water (see below)
1 1/2 T unsalted butter
1 T olive oil
12 medium or 10 large ears of corn (to make 7 Cups of kernels)
2 large or 3 medium red peppers (about 2 1/2 cups, chopped)
1 giant leek or a big white or onion (about 2 cups chopped)
4 large or 8 small garlic cloves
Salt and cayenne or other pepper, toasted ground cumin, green pepper powder
Shuck and strip the kernels off the corn cobs–this is the only labor intensive part of this project. I like to singe the intransigent corn silk from the cob over an open flame before I strip the kernels. This is the fastest way to get rid of the silk, and it only adds flavor if the corn gets a little singed too. If you are making this for vegetarians, throw the cobs in water and add the aromatics mentioned in the first paragraph, above. Let simmer while you do everything else. Otherwise, throw the cobs in your chicken broth and let simmer.
Thoroughly wash and thinly slice the white part of the leek. Melt 1 T butter and add 1/2 T olive oil to your soup pot. Add the leek and salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low heat in till soft (about 5 min). (You can throw the bottom and the green part in with your stock if you want, and even the cores of the peppers.).
Meanwhile, dice the garlic and rough chop the red pepper. Take 1 cup of the corn kernels and set aside with 1/2 cup of the red pepper. Dice that 1/2 cup of pepper. Add the bulk of the corn and pepper to the leek along with the garlic, salt and if you want them a little ground toasted cumin, green pepper powder, and cayenne or other hot pepper. This is all a matter of taste. you can just add a little salt and pepper if you want. Go easy on the hot pepper at least the first time you make this. Sauté a few minutes, till warm, then add 2 C of your stock, strained. Stir, cover and cook for 20 -30 min, till the pepper is tender.
Take an immersion blender and blend till your soup is as smooth as possible. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you’ll have to use a food processor or blender–much messier, and you’ll have to do this in batches. When the soup is smooth, add 3 more cups stock and taste. Correct seasoning. The soup should be thick, but not overly thick–you can add more stock if necessary.Sauté the remaining corn and pepper in 1/2 T butter and 1/2 T olive oil. When softened, add to soup.
Serve with roughly chopped fresh basil. You can roast the red peppers first, if you want, it adda an extra smokiness. This goes well with any side dishes, and will keep well in the fridge. I haven’t tried freezing it, but it should be ok. If you have leftover stock you can freeze this and use later.