Sunday, September 5, 2010

Silky Corn Soup

Corn is the yellow burst of sunshine in summer. Better grab it now because autumn is in the air. I can feel it in the coolness of the evenings and the ever so slight change in the light especially as it hits the ocean.

When I was young we ate seasonally. Partly, because my father was from a farm family in Canada. But also, that was just how we all ate during that time. We didn't import from all over the planet. Just think of what a vegetable must look like at harvest if it has to travel by plane or boat to get to it's final destination. Probably green, hard and tasteless. I prefer to buy local. It not only supports the local farmers but the taste is so much more delectable.

One of the great things about eating seasonally is that we learn to savor a certain time of the year and build memories around seasonal foods. My sister and I own a family home in Corvallis Oregon and one of the great things to look forward to is corn from Tweets, a local farm stand. My father loved the first corn of the season and this dish is in remembrance of him.

Silky Corn Soup
Serves 7

3 1/2 cups whole milk
8 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut from the cobs, cobs broken in half and reserved
1 pound of smoked ham hocks
4 1/2 cups water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled, thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 large fresh thyme sprigs
4 bay leaves
1/2 cup smoked ham diced
salt and pepper to taste

Bring milk, corncob halves and ham shank just to boiling large stock pot. Remove from heat, cover and let steep while sauteing vegetables.

Melt butter in large stockpot over medium heat. Add onion: sprinkle with salt and saute until translucent, about 5 min. Add corn kernels, carrots, celery, and garlic cook until vegetables are soft stirring frequently about ten minutes.

Add water, thyme, bay leaf, and milk mixture with the corncobs and the ham shank. Increase heat and bring to boil. Cover partially, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes to blend flavors.

Cool soup slightly. Discard corncobs, herb sprigs, bay leaves and ham shank. Working in small batches, puree soup in blender until very smooth. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain soup into large bowl, pressing on the solids. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. garnish with sauteed diced smoked ham and chives. You can also add some Tabasco to taste for each bowl.

This soup is so sweet and velvety. It is summer in a bowl.

Serve it with a nice warm baguette and a glass of dry white wine. Sit outside to enjoy some of the last warm nights of the season and create some of your own memories.


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