1 tbsp. olive oil
¼ lb. slab bacon, cut into matchsticks (optional)
6 ears fresh corn
1 large onion, diced fine
2 ribs celery, diced
2 small carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 jalapeno pepper, diced very fine (for more heat, add the seeds)
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme (optional, but delicious)
3 small white or yellow potatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro or basil
In a 4-quart soup pot or dutch oven, render the bacon in the oil until crisp. Remove bacon and set aside. Saute onion, celery, carrots, garlic chunks, and jalapeno slowly in the bacon fat. Add the potato, thyme sprig, and bay leaf and cover the pot. Saute until tender.
At the same time, steam the ears of corn in a large pot with two inches of water for 5 minutes. Remove the corn, keeping the water simmering in the pot. When the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cobs. This is a messy proposition, with kernels apt to fly all over the kitchen. I lay the cob flat on a board and cut straight down using a serrated knife.
Put the kernels from all but one ear into a blender. Scrape the cobs with a knife to get all the corn flavor into the blender. Add the cobs to the boiling corn water. Add a cup or so of corn water to the blender and puree the corn until smooth. Push the corn puree through a fine mesh strainer or food mill to make corn cream. More mess, but so delicious. As you can see, I have the food mill over a bowl in the sink.
When the potatoes are tender, remove the bay leaf and thyme, add the corn cream, reserved corn kernels, and 3-4 cups of the corn water, to desired thickness. Garnish with the bacon and cilantro and serve immediately.