Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chilled Corn Soup for Summer Days

I am a southern girl down to core. As most of you know, I love pimento cheese, summertime tomatoes, and buttermilk fried chicken. And I admit that I even love the dog days of summer. Sure, I'll banter about the heat index of 115 with the best of them, but that should not be confused with complaining.

The reality is that just like those of you who endure harsh winters, we Southerners simply adjust. We drink a lot of iced tea (sweet, of course) and tone down our cooking a bit. I think days like today (when the mercury just keeps rising) present themselves as opportunities to step outside your culinary box and cook with refreshment in mind. The Glass Onion's Chilled Corn Soup would be such a pleasant dinner with a nice green salad on the side. And there will be plenty leftover to enjoy for lunch when it's just too hot to leave the office!

There is definitely some prep involved with this soup -- so give yourself an afternoon and remember to allow time for chilling the soup as well.

Chilled Corn Soup

We serve this soup at the height of summer, using beautiful white corn. The simple list of ingredients ensures that the essence of the corn shines through.

7 ears white corn
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)
2 cups peeled and chopped russet potato (about 1 medium russet potato)
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
Honey, to taste (optional)

Cut corn off the cob; set aside. In a large pot cover ears with water. Simmer for 1 hour. Remove from the heat and strain through a colander into a large bowl. (Should reduce to about 7 cups of "corn water.")

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions; cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add corn and corn water; bring to a boil. Add cream and potato; simmer until potato is tender, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool.

Working in batches, puree corn mixture in a blender. Have a chinois placed in a bowl nearby. Once the soup is pureed, ladle it from the blender into the chinois. Some will go through quite easily. For the rest, you will need to force it through using the ladle. Holding the chinois in one hand, over the bowl, and the ladle in the other, gently push through the mixture to the bottom of the chinois repeatedly. You will eventually be left with nothing but corn pulp, which you can discard. Repeat this process until you have pureed all of the corn mixture.

Season with salt, white pepper, and cayenne. If it is not the peak of corn season, you can add some honey to make up for the missing sweetness -- starting with 1 teaspoon, but up to 1 tablespoon should do the trick.

Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours.

YIELD: 8 to 10 servings; about 2 quarts

P.S. You can easily halve this recipe!

P.P.S. Don't let the term "chinois" scare you away from the recipe. This is simply a conical, fine-meshed strainer that should be available at your local cookware store or definitely online. It is not that expensive and is essential any time you are looking for a pristine, velvety texture, such as here with a pureed soup or for puddings. Other fine-meshed strainers can also work, but when dealing with larger quantities, the chinois is ideal.

Check out wikipedia's definition of a chinios


  1. I made this soup this past weekend! Wow!! It was so delicious. Chilled or warm, this soup is a winner.

  2. So glad you enjoyed it! Cookbook will be out in a matter of weeks!