So, what's a girl to do with disappointing corn? The last time I found it, I just ate it straight from the cob. Without salt, pepper, or any slather of hydrogenated fats. This time, I did that with one cob, and felt too bitter about the starchy taste in my mouth to bother with the others. So I did the most reasonable thing for a person to do: I made sweetcorn soup. (I also resolved never to buy from that stall again - a resolution that I've made once, and broken simply because of the availability of corn. But this time, I mean it.) The corn kernels were sliced from the cob, mixed into some sauteed onion and chilli, and blended to make a thick soup. I know everyone (including me) sings the praises of using the best-quality fresh ingredients, but sometimes, we have to compromise. And, I assure you, this was a delicious compromise.
My first taste of sweetcorn soup was of the chicken-and-corn variety, when I was in New Zealand as a twelve-year-old. Dad had been to a conference, and it was something of a family holiday. It was my first time overseas, including my first time on a plane, and it wasn't very different to Australia, except that I saw a chestnut for the first time. And I tried corn in soup at the house of some family friends. When I was told we were having corn soup for lunch, I remember saying to my mother that I didn't want to eat it. (I wasn't very good with trying new foods sometimes.) She told me that I couldn't be rude, and that I had to eat at least some. I think I was pleasantly suprised at how edible it was. And in my older years, I became a fan of the version served at Chinese restaurants. Now I'm a fan of my own version, sans chicken and MSG, which is blended just a little. Sometimes I add a spoonful of peanut butter for some satay-goodness, but not today. When I do that, I like to add a swirl of coconut cream, or use coriander instead of parsley. However, sometimes simplicity is the best answer to complicated questions.
4 ears of corn, kernels shaved
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
1 small (brutal) thai chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp thyme leaves (if using dried, halve the quantity)
fresh parsley (optional)
1 litre vegetable stock
salt and pepper
chilli powder (optional)
Pour a small splash of olive oil into the bottom of your pot, and sautee the onion until softened and transparent. Don't be afraid to let it colour a little. Add the garlic and chilli, frying about a minute longer, until fragrant. If you're not coughing from the chilli fumes, add a little more!
Throw in your corn kernels and thyme, sautee for a minute, before adding the vegetable stock.
Simmer until the corn has brightened in colour - it really only takes a minute or two.
Add chilli powder, salt and pepper, and fresh parsley to taste.
Blend, in batches as necessary - I like to blend maybe 3/4 of the mix, so that I still have some chunks of corn in the finished soup. Don't worry if it froths up a lot - it's just because the corn is so high in natural sugar. The bubbles will subside by themselves.
Scatter with parsley and pepper. Best served with crusty bread.