Late Summer Corn Soup with Fresh Herbs…from the Hamptons
I’ve fantasized about a vacation in the Hamptons for a very long time…probably something to do with my long-standing Barefoot Contessa habit, a little too much Sex and The City, and – of course — the set from one of my all-time favorite movies, Something’s Gotta Give (that house!). So you can imagine, I was more than a little excited when my husband’s friend invited us to visit his beach house in the Hamptons last weekend.
It really couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s been years since Michael and I got away just the two of us, and after our last family trip to Hershey Park, where I lugged around everyone’s stuffed animals and prizes, and went on spinning rides that left me in a constant state of nausea, I think I deserved 24 hours of child-free fun in a luxurious beach town. Right?
I have to say, the Hamptons — even nicer than I’d imagined. Beautiful beaches, sprawling shingle style estates hidden by giant boxwoods, charming towns dotted with antique stores, big yachts, men in white shorts and pastel Polos, and of course lots of quaint markets and farm stands à la Barefoot Contessa.
I didn’t get to do any cooking while we were there but I couldn’t help but get inspired by all the farm fresh produce. I bought loads of fresh corn from a roadside market to bring home as a souvenir.
Once I got home and into the kitchen, I figured we’d all kinda OD’d on boiled corn-on-the-cob so this delicious corn soup was just the ticket.
With only a few simple ingredients — a little butter, shallots, corn, chicken stock and fresh herbs — it has an intense corn flavor that tastes just like summer. You can have fun with it: substitute your favorite herbs; garnish it with chopped tomatoes or red peppers; or luxe it up with a swirl of heavy cream.
Part of the fun of cooking is getting inspired by what’s in season and stepping off the beaten path to buy locally from the source. For me, farmers markets are so much more fun than grocery stores, especially when they’re in the Hamptons.
Summer Corn Soup with Fresh Herbs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 heaping cup chopped shallots
6 cups (48 ounces) low sodium chicken stock (I like Swanson Organic)
6 ears fresh corn (white or yellow are both fine, but yellow makes for a prettier soup)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil, plus a few small sprigs for garnish
1½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1. Remove husks and silks from corn. Set one ear of corn aside. Use a knife to scrape kernels off remaining 5 cobs, then break scraped cobs in half. Set aside.
2. Melt butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Add chicken stock, corn kernels, broken cobs, whole ear of corn, salt and pepper to pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove whole ear of corn and set aside to cool. Cook for 10 minutes more. Remove broken cobs from pot and discard.
4. Off the heat, use a hand held immersion blender* to puree soup until very smooth. Be patient…it takes a while. Soup should have a creamy consistency without being gloppy. If it’s too thick, thin it with water or chicken stock bit by bit; if it’s too thin, cook over medium heat until thickened.
5. Use a knife to cut cooked kernels off cooled whole cob; add kernels to soup along with herbs. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper (if necessary, you can add a bit of sugar to bring out the corn’s natural sweetness). Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with tiny sprigs of fresh basil if desired.
*If you don’t have a stick blender, let the soup cool slightly and purée in batches in a blender. Be sure to crack the lid or remove the center cap to allow steam to escape and cover with a dishtowel so it won’t splatter. Rinse the pot and return the soup to pot.
Be sure to get fresh-picked corn and cook it as soon as possible. As soon as it’s picked, corn starts converting sugar to starch which reduces sweetness. If you’re not going to cook it right away, always store it in the refrigerator as it slows down the conversion process.