Summer’s last gasp: Sweet corn soup and Laura’s corn salad

The headline is a little dramatic, but the cooler weather has me thinking about the coming of fall–and the end of corn season. Four Town Farm, where I get my produce May through October, should have corn for a few more weeks, but I know the days are numbered. Today’s freshly picked ears were tiny–only about six or seven inches long, but tender and sweet. I thought I’d repost my favorite corn soup recipe, along with one for summer corn salad that I made for my friend Laura.
Laura’s Corn Salad
2 cups corn, steamed for about 4 minutes, cooled, and cut from the cob
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
1/4 tsp. chopped fresh jalapeno pepper (or to taste; this is pretty mild)
1 cup chopped tomato
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for at least one hour to allow flavors to meld.
Sweet corn soup with bacon
This recipe is all about the ephemeral tastes of summer and features the sweetness of fresh corn. Don’t bother making it with anything but corn right out of the field. The recipe may seem like a lot of trouble—it also creates a huge mess—but the result is so delicious, I think it’s worth it. It can be made vegan by omitting the bacon. Serves four.


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.


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