Corn-on-the-cob means a summer’s barbeque. Orville Redenbacher’s corn means being curled up on the couch watching a chic flick on a winter’s eve. Creamed corn means the Jolly Green Giant package in the freezer, the one right next to the frozen Succotash. But until last night, I had never used corn as the base ingredient for homemade soup.
This week’s French Fridays with Dorie featured corn soup. So I sent my erstwhile companion to the market armed with a copy of the recipe and instructions not to return home until he had secured all the ingredients in a fresh format. I'm diligent in the kitchen and rarely take short-cuts. For example, I don’t grab the Campbell Potato Soup can from the pantry, pour its contents into a pot, add some canned clams and call it “Clam Chowder” as so many restaurants do. Fortunately, there is no reason to take any shortcuts with this recipe (unless you want to save some chopping and dicing time by purchasing Trader Joe’s Mirepoix). It is a simple, fresh and easy recipe that can be made quickly, even after a hard day’s night.
I can tell a good Italian restaurant from the cooking aromas that surround you upon entering. Similarly, I can tell a good soup from the fragrance of the ingredients as they blend together during the cooking process. This dish emits a panoply of wonderful fragrances, with the rosemary being predominant. Such was this recipe’s allure that my two “sous chefs” were drawn from the first televised college football game of the year to investigate. It's always a good sign when cooking aromas draw people to the kitchen, particularly during football season.
At first, I was worried the soup would be a little too thin for our preference, and it seemed that way while cooking in the pot even though I withheld about ¾ cup of the required water. However, I was immensely pleased with the final result after using my trusty immersion blender. The soup had a chowder-like consistency with colorful bits and pieces of the red Jalapeño pepper, carrot, celery and red onion adding great visual contrast to the creamy yellow of the corn. The interplay between the sweetness of the corn and the spice of the red Jalapeño pepper tickled my fancy and fit my mood for the evening-- sweet and spicy--and the crisp bacon garnishment added a nice counterpoint to the cool and silky crème fraiche.
This is a wonderful soup that stands on its own merit when prepared as Dorie suggests. But, in my opinion, it can be turned into a fabulous seafood chowder by simply adding some fresh shrimp, lobster and/or crab (I wouldn’t add clams because they would not complement the flavors of the soup).
I am eager to try this recipe again. Fortuitously, there is just enough left over for one bowl. Wonder which one of us will get lucky at lunch today....?