august 15, 2014
Sadly, we are nearing the end of fresh corn season here in Richmond. People have favorites : white vs. yellow, the elusive Silver Queen vs. Supersweet, but even mediocre ears of corn are satisfying with a slather of good butter and a sprinkle of sea salt.
That’s my very favorite way of enjoying fresh corn, but if an ear is sweet and tender enough, I may even consider leaving off the butter and salt. Grilling fresh corn blesses it with a rich smoky toastiness, especially when some of the kernels get a good char. Fresh corn plays a diva role on the summer menus of The Good Eats Company personal chef service. Buttermilk corn cakes, succotash with tomato broth, chicken breast with corn and caper cream and cheddar corn chowder are just a few of the dishes featuring my favorite summer vegetable.
Before corn disappears and we must make do with frozen kernels, let’s make a chilled corn soup with green curry, cilantro, coconut milk and avocado. This soup was served last weekend at the Little House Green Grocery Sunday Supper garnished with Greek yogurt from Old Church Creamery. Like all soups, flavor improves after one or two days in the refrigerator, and, unlike most soups, this one tastes great either chilled or served piping hot. When the temperature edges past 90, as it usually does here in August, I’ll take a pass on the simmered version, taking my heat only from the Thai bird chiles that serve as garnish and “wow factor”.
They are easy enough to grow, and many grocers carry them loose and fresh. These were purchased at a local Asian market; I store them in the freezer, pulling out just what I need, snipping with kitchen scissors while they are still frozen. Discard the seeds and use only the colorful pepper shell if you are averse to intense spicy heat.
The pepper, avocado, dairy and cilantro garnishes are not necessary, but make for a spectacular presentation, and as we all know, you eat first with your eyes, and if you are the lucky cook for this soup, the tantalizing aroma will enchant you long before the soup gets plated.
Coconut Corn Avocado Soup
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes six servings
one half of a large sweet onion, chopped fine
one tablespoon vegetable oil
pinch of kosher salt
½ tablespoon green curry paste *
kernels from four large ears fresh corn, raw
one large Hass avocado, chopped
one 13.5 ounce can full fat coconut milk
½ cup chopped cilantro, including the stems
at least 2 ½ cups best quality vegetable stock
fine sea salt
optional garnishes : finely snipped Thai bird chiles, cilantro leaves, avocado slices, Greek yogurt or sour cream
* cook’s note : remainder of green curry paste may be frozen indefinitely,preferably glass jar
- In heavy two quart saucepan, stir onion, oil and kosher salt over medium heat to combine, and then stir occasionally, adjusting heat to prevent any browning, until onion is soft and translucent, about 10-12 minutes.
- Add green curry paste and stir until fragrant, about 10 seconds.
- Stir in corn, avocado, cilantro, coconut milk and stock and bring to boil.
- Simmer gently uncovered, stirring occasionally, until corn softens, about 20 minutes.
- Use immersion blender to puree soup in pan, or alternately, allow to cool in pan and then puree in batches in either food processor or blender until smooth but still textured.
- Adjust seasoning with salt while hot, and then again after chilling (chilled foods may taste more bland and starches like corn need seasoning).
- Add any extra stock after cooking to give desired texture, and then again after chilling, since the soup will thicken on standing. This soup is lovely thick or thin – up to your tastes.
- Chill at least six hours or overnight.
- If desired, garnish with snipped pepper, avocado, cilantro and drizzled dairy (the latter will help to cut the heat of the peppers).