Saturday, August 13, 2011
Sweet Corn and Chard Soup
Making the most of summer means using every edible part of each fleeting fresh vegetable. We are in the sweetest heart of the growing season—finally! And I'm ecstatic about all the fruits and veggies coming out of the garden and for sale at the Farmer's market.
My plan was to grow things in my garden that I couldn't get at the Farmer's market to give myself the widest range of options. That has worked to some extent. My chard has been going gang-busters all summer, what I thought to be Romesco broccoli however, turned out to be an overgrown weed. I mean really, how was I supposed to know what it looked like? It was in the row marked broccoli. Unfortunately this gigantic broccoli-imitating weed took over what probably was my actual plants at one point and left me with two very puny real broccoli plants. They are still growing, but unless it stays very warm through October, I'm probably out of luck.
All this chard on the other hand has been wonderful in tomato sauce and risottos and I've been using the stems in place of celery all summer long. They are sweeter than celery, but have the same great crunch, and are great in soups, tuna salad, and pasta. I just use the stems in this soup, but chard leaves would work excellent here as well. They shrivel down to nothing, so I would add an entire bunch to this recipe if I were using them.
I used leftover grilled corn which lent a nice smoky flavor to this soup. If you don't want to bother grilling the corn, just add raw sweet corn and let it cook until tender. If you're feeling really ambitious, you can make the stock for this soup with the ears of corn. Just remove all the corn kernels and place the cobs in a stock pot with onion, garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns and some chicken bones if you have them. Let it come to a boil and simmer for an hour or two, until the liquid tastes sufficiently corny.
I like to purée this soup a little to give it a touch of creaminess (without adding cream). You can leave it chunky, or puree completely smooth. Add a few garnishes for color and flavor like thinly sliced red chiles, avocado or sour cream.
Sweet Corn and Chard Soup
Makes 6 servings
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch chard stems, chopped (about 2 cups chopped)
1 large bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeño, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup white wine
3 cups sweet corn (about 6 ears, kernels removed)
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
6 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
sliced red chiles
1. Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Once oil is shimmering, add onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add chard stems, bell pepper, and jalapeño, and season again with salt and pepper. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until pepper is tender, about 4 minutes more.
2. Add cumin and stir to combine. Add wine and scrape any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add corn, potatoes, and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Partially blend to desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve each bowl with a dollop of sour cream, some diced avocado and a few slices of red chile.