Saturday, August 20, 2011

Summer Sweet Corn Soup w/Basil Oil

There's something comforting about the fact that even in Southern California in 2011, when you can really get anything at any time of the year, the end of summer inevitably brings with it a slew of seasonal tastes and recipes.  It's all the more comforting given that they're the same here as they are in the Midwest where I grew up.  August comes, and suddenly tomatoes, basil, squash, sweet corn, and beets are everywhere.  These simple foods taste of weeks and weeks of sunlight and humidity; they come at the most fertile moment of the year... and yet for that very same reason, they're always tinged with a bittersweet belatedness.  This was especially true last August; behind all those tomato squash basil dishes is the fact that two of the most important people in my LA life were moving to the Bay Area and my little brother was moving to Egypt.

August is not the cruellest month, but it is a strange month.

This soup, which takes advantage of fresh sweet corn and basil, can be served hot or cold, depending on what form August is taking where you are.  It paired nicely with the 11-Spice Lentil Salad with Capers and Dates and some salad greens (at left).  I reduced the amount of carrot and increased that of corn; I also fully pureed the soup to make it prettier.  I did, for the first time in my life, feel that there was too much thyme--start low, and remember you can always add more to taste later.  I was going to call this post "Too much thyme on my hands," but I couldn't figure out how to make it work with the fall/belatedness stuff.

The basil oil recipe that follows is great!  I used it not only on this soup, but also as a salad dressing and on this week's ravioli.  I think it would also be pretty incredible on some really fresh tomatoes.

Summer Sweet Corn Soup w/Basil Oil Drizzle

Ingredients
4 sweet corn ears, husked
2 TB olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 c yellow onions, finely diced
3 c vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
fresh thyme leaves (if substituting dried thyme, don't overdo it!--maybe 1/2 tsp?)
salt and pepper
1 recipe fresh basil oil (below)

Instructions
1. Cut the corn from the cobs and discard the cobs. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the corn, garlic, celery, carrots, and onions and cook until slightly caramelized, 4-5 minutes.
2. Add the broth, bay leaves, and thyme. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
3. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Using an immersion blender, puree 2/3 of the soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Serve hot or cold with a drizzle of basil oil.  Serves about 6.

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Basil Oil Drizzle

Ingredients
1/3 c olive oil
3 TB fresh basil, chopped

Instructions
In a small saucepan add the ingredients and cook over low heat for 5 minutes.  Strain basil and drizzle 1-2 teaspoons of oil over each bowl of soup.

1 comment:

Noelle said...

Glad you liked it. Good call on using the last of the basil oil on that salad! YUM!!