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Early Corn Soup and a Book Review of I Love Corn by Lisa Skye for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Posted Jun 17 2012 7:31pm
I love corn. So does Lisa Skye, who loves it enough to write a cookbook about this sweet and sunny vegetable. In her new cookbook, I Love Corn (Andrews McMeel Publishing LLC, June 2012, Hardcover 7 1/2" x 7 1/2", 160 pages), Skye has collected fifty corn recipes from around the world and included recipes from renowned chefs and food personalities such as Michelle Bernstein, Daniel Boulud, Pichet Ong, Claudia Roden, and Martha Stewart. 

The book is arranged by type--Breakfast, Soups, Starters, Mains, Sides and Desserts. In addition there is a section on buying, storing, preparing and cooking corn. There are color photos throughout the book, (although not for every recipe) and the bright primary colors used, make this compact book bright and appealing. Each recipe is introduced by the chef with a personal anecdote. In fact, this cookbook is a personal labor of love for the author who started it in 2007 as a leadership program project and who is donating a portion of the proceeds to the Dougy Center in Portland, Oregon, a national grieving center for children and families, to give back some of the support she received when she lost her father unexpectedly several years ago.

I tagged quite a few recipes to try, including Roasted Corn and Goat Cheese Quiche with Brown Rice Crust, Chilaquiles Divorciados, Fresh Corn Gazpacho, Corn "Ceviche" in Corn Water, Serenade Vegetable Tacos, Liquid "Gold" Corn Ravioli, Warm Jersey Corn Salads, Corn Poached Halibut with Tomato and Charred Jalapeno Chutney, Warm Polenta Stew, Caramelized Corn with Shallots, Yankee Corn Bread, Chocolate Pudding with Caramel Peanut Popcorn and Fresh Corn Sorbet, Fresh Corn Ice Cream, and Popcorn Pudding with Salted Caramel Corn and Butterscotch Sauce.

Ultimately, I ended up "road testing" this book with the Hugh Acheson recipe for Early Corn Soup. I may have to declare this my "Spring/Summer of Corn Soup" since I have made one a month for the past three months. I love nothing better than a big bowl of corn soup as regardless of the weather, its delicate sweetness keeps it light enough to enjoy all year round. Plus, when the corn lady parks her truck near my house, it is hard to resist buying bags of sweet local corn when I drive by. I was intrigued by the vanilla in this soup and since my last two corn soups have been on the savory and lightly-spicy side, this sweeter version seemed like a contrast I made a couple of minor changes to make it vegan, noted below, and although the recipe calls for the soup to be pureed and passed through a sieve, I pureed about half of mine and went "sieve-less." ;-)

Hugh Acheson says, "When I was young and spending summers at our cottage an hour north of Toronto, Canada, corn season was a revered stretch of late summer. "Peaches and cream" was what we called the sweet, rich, bicolored corn from the local farms. It required about thirty seconds of cooking and was then slathered with fresh butter and a sprinkling of salt. That was it, for lunch and dinner, most everyday. Wonderful. This recipe encapsulates the same freshness but has exotic overtones from the coconut milk and vanilla. It's a simple soup that works well with lobster, crab, or shrimp, if you want to make it more of a meal."
Early Corn SoupBy Hugh Acheson from I Love Corn by Lisa Skye(Serves 6)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter (I used Earth Balance)1 leek, white part only, cleaned and diced finely (about 1/2 cup)1 rib celery, minced finely (about 1/4 cup)3 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 4 medium-sized ears)1 medium-size bouquet garni of fresh thyme and fresh or dried bay leaf (see note) 1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scrape1 cup peeled and cubed russet potato (1-inch cubes)4 cups water1/4 cup heavy cream (I used non-dairy creamer)1 cup coconut milksalt and freshly ground pepper
Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Saute the leek and celery until soft but not browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the corn, bouquet garni, vanilla bean pod and seeds, and potato. Cook for 2 minutes over medium heat. Add the water and cover. Continue cooking over medium heat, not boiling. Cook for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 to 10 minutes more, until the potatoes are soft.
Add the cream and coconut milk and return to medium heat. Continue cooking covered for about 5 minutes. Remove the bouquet garni and the vanilla bean pod, and carefully puree the hot soup in the blender, working in batches. Pass through a fine-mesh strainer.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. 
(Author's Note: To make your own bouquet garni, simply tie together 3 long sprigs of thyme and 1 bay leaf with string or butcher's twine.)

Notes/Results: Very sweet, but in a good way, this soup really brings out the flavor of the young corn. You don't taste the vanilla, it just enhances the sweet taste of the corn, leeks, and coconut milk. I am glad I didn't puree the entire batch, as having the chunks of potato and niblets of corn in the creamy base make it very satisfying. Although I prefer it warm, this soup also works chilled. I will make this again.

I Love Corn is a fun and useful cookbook that celebrates how delicious and diverse corn can be and is an excellent partner for summer vegetable stands and farmers markets. It would be a great hostess gift, shower present or a take-along to a beach house or cabin. For me, it's good incentive to keeping stopping whenever I see the corn lady.
Note: I received a copy of I Love Corn from the publisher (Andrews McMeel), however I received no monetary compensation to review it. As always, my thoughts, feedback and experiences cooking from it are entirely my own.
I'm am sending this soup over to Cookbook Sundays hosted by my friend Sue at Couscous and Consciousness.

Now let's see who is in the Souper Sundays kitchen.
Janet of The Taste Space is joining me in my summer soup love with this Fragrant Lentil Rice Soup with Spinach and Caramelized Onions (aka Dal Bhat Meets Mujaddara) . She says, "This comforting dish comes from Melissa Clark’s cookbook, Cook This Now. Savoury spices like cinnamon, cumin, allspice and ginger are combined with creamy red lentils and brown rice (aka dal bhat). Since the spices are aromatized at the beginning of the soup, they don’t pop with as much oomph as dal  bhat, instead they are more mellow. This is a thick soup, with both lentils and rice simmered together, creating an utterly creamy consistency."

Janet also has this Thai Kelp Noodle Salad with Mango and Lima Beans to share and says, "Thai-inspired, the star of this dish is the creamy coconut-based dressing infused with lemongrass, Keffir lime leaves, ginger and shallots, balanced with a touch of tamarind, fresh lime juice, toasted sesame oil and soy sauce. All of the flavours are enhanced through the reduction of the coconut milk. It is probably one of the more elaborate and lengthy dressings to make, but easy none-the-less, and can be made in advance."

Sue of Couscous and Consciousness made a colorful Chargrilled Cauliflower, Tomato & Fennel Salad and says, " is a real favourite - and as (despite the price), I seem to be absolutely mad for cauliflower right now, I thought it was high time I dragged this one out, dusted it off and shared it with you.  This is great eaten slightly warm or at room temperature - that said, it's not half bad the next day as well, should you be lucky enough to have any leftovers. This makes a great starter or side, but I am more than happy to just tuck into a huge bowl of this as a meal."

Debbie of Easy Natural Food has two salads to share this week. First up this hearty Quinoa Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing . She says, "A tasty quinoa salad is always a good thing to be able to whip up for any occasion – picnic, BBQ, potluck or simply dinner at home. I made this salad to take to a birthday party recently, and much to my relief everyone really enjoyed it. The sweet cranberries, tangy tomatoes, crunchy cucumber and red bell pepper, and the bite from the scallions made for a great combo in this salad!"
Debbie's second salad is a healthy Crunchy Munchy Vegetable Salad . Debbie says, "It has been hot here lately….hot, no breeze, no air conditioning. So all that I’ve been feeling like is a big bowl of crunchy munchy salad! Something cool, crisp and refreshing is what I’m after, and this salad fits the bill perfectly."

Some wonderful dishes this week--thanks to everyone who joined in. If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the sidebar for all of the details.
Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there.

Have a happy, healthy week!   
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