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Cooking

Recipes for chilled corn soups

Try the easy, sweet end-of-summer treat.

Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

Chilled corn soup.

Corn strikes me as an exceptionally generous and versatile vegetable — think corn bread, tortillas, tamales, even ice cream — and suave chilled soups also rank high on the list of great ways to prepare it. The corn imparts not just flavor (which both stands on its own and plays well with other ingredients), but also a rich, silky texture that other soups gain only by adding cream, which isn’t necessary here.

CHILLED CORN SOUP

Makes about 2 quarts

Adapted from a recipe by T. Susan Chang for National Public Radio.

Continue reading below

6 medium ears corn, kernels cut off (you should have about 6 cups), cobs reserved

2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth

1 bay leaf

8 large sprigs parsley

Salt and pepper

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large leek, white and light green parts, chopped (about 3 cups)

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

Snipped chives, for garnish

In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, bring the stripped cobs, broth, bay leaf, and parsley to a strong simmer. Cover the pan and set aside off heat for 45 minutes to steep. With a slotted spoon, remove the cobs, bay leaf, and parsley. Return the pot to medium-high heat and bring back to a strong simmer. Add the corn kernels, 1½ teaspoons salt, and pepper to taste, and simmer until tender, about 7 minutes. Set the pot aside off heat, and with a slotted spoon remove about 2/3 cup of corn, set aside in a covered bowl, and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. When bubbling subsides, add the leek and ½ teaspoon salt, and saute about 2½ minutes. Add the garlic and saute 30 seconds. Adjust heat to medium-low, cover, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the chopped leek has released its juices, about 5 minutes. Stir into the rest of the soup.

Puree the mixture in batches in a blender until very smooth, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl, pressing to release as much puree as possible (the solids left in the strainer should be as dry as possible). Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours.

At serving time, stir, adjust the seasoning to taste, then serve garnished with the reserved corn kernels and snipped chives.

Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

TIP: When you strain pureed cooked corn for soup, work the mixture through the sieve until only a dry mass of corn-kernel skins remains. You want as much of the thick, creamy corn milk to pass through the mesh as possible.

VARIATIONS

> CHILLED CORN SOUP WITH CURRY AND BUTTERMILK

Makes about 2 quarts

Follow the directions for Chilled Corn Soup, making the following changes:

1) Decrease the broth to 5 cups and omit the bay leaf and parsley.

2) Substitute 2 tablespoons neutral oil for the butter and 2 medium onions, chopped, for the leeks.

3) Along with the garlic, add 2 teaspoons minced or grated fresh ginger, 2 teaspoons curry powder, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper to the onions.

4) Add 2 cups cold buttermilk to the strained corn mixture before refrigerating.

> CHILLED CORN SOUP WITH ASIAN FLAVORS AND CRAB

Makes about 2 quarts

Adapted from Crazy for Corn, by Betty Fussell. Crabmeat is a lovely though pricey garnish; the soup is still great without it.

Follow the directions for Chilled Corn Soup, making the following changes:

1) Substitute 1 quart shrimp, fish, or seafood stock plus 1 quart water for the broth and omit the bay leaf and parsley.

2) Substitute 2 tablespoons neutral oil for the butter and 2 medium onions, chopped, for the leeks.

3) Increase the garlic to 4 medium cloves. Along with the garlic, add 1 tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger to the onions. After the onions have released their juices, adjust the heat to medium-high, add ¼ cup dry sherry or Shaoxing rice wine, and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of pan, for 1 minute.

4) At serving time, in a small bowl, mix the reserved corn, ½ cup crabmeat (about 4 ounces), 1 teaspoon rice vinegar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

5) Substitute thinly sliced scallion greens for the chives, and garnish with the crab-corn mixture and scallions.

Adam Ried appears regularly on “America’s Test Kitchen.” Send comments to cooking@globe.com.
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