Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A corn soup for the summer-to-fall transition

Here’s a soup to ease you back into fall: Corn Soup with Crisp Proscuitto and Basil (click for the recipe) from Fine Cooking magazine.
   If you’re tired of grilling corn, but you’re not yet ready for a middle-of-winter chowder, this soup will perfectly suit your cravings. It’s warm but light, perfect for early autumn weather.
   The soup does beautiful job of capturing the sweetness of corn that you can find at its best now at farmer’s markets and supermarkets. It’s truly delicious.
   The recipe’s secret technique is the addition of the cobs, which have had the corn stripped off, to the chicken broth and corn while it heats up. This adds a deeper corn flavor. The cobs are taken out before the soup is puréed, of course.
   The recipe calls for three to four large ears of fresh corn. For me, that wasn’t enough -- I used six large cobs to get the three cups of corn kernels called for by the recipe. However, I only used three of the de-stripped cobs when heating them up with the other ingredients.
   I used my corn de-cobbing technique of standing a cob up, nose down, in the tube part of an angel food cake pan, then stripping off the kernels with a knife into the pan.
   The prosciutto that’s served on top of the soup is crisped by placing three very thin slices of it in a single layer on a small baking sheet and broiling, flipping once, for about three minutes. It’s left to cool and is then finely chopped and crumbled by hand.
   In a Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium heat, butter is melted, then chopped yellow onion is added and cooked until softened.
   Four cups of water, two cups of chicken broth (I used the store-bought kind), diced peeled red potato, half of the corn, the cobs and salt are added to the pot and brought to a boil, then reduced to low and simmered for 10 to 15 minutes. The cobs are discarded.
   My husband used a hand-held immersion blender in the pot to purée the soup, and so didn’t need to transfer it to a blender as the recipe directs.
   The rest of the corn is added to the puréed soup, and it’s simmered for three to five minutes until the kernels are tender.
   Each serving of the soup is garnished with the crisp prosciutto and chopped fresh basil.

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