Summer living is the best, isn’t it? There is something about the simplicity that the summer season brings to my cooking that makes my little soul happy – life lived mostly outdoors, the crazy abundance of fresh veggies, easy cooking both indoors and out. And as a born and raised Jersey girl, summer means delicious, sweet Jersey corn – in abundance. There is something about the long rows of milky white kernels that make Jersey corn something special and when you can find it fresh-picked from the farm, woohoo – something to celebrate. We now live over in Pennsylvania – but luckily a stone’s throw across the river from NJ – so this girl still gets to eat her Jersey corn (and of course those yummy Jersey tomatoes too) from mid-July till summer’s end. Happy.
The corn fest is in full swing at my house – corn on the grill, corn in salads, Mexican corn, corn and more corn. I noticed a recipe recently that used corn stock by simply boiling the cobs in water and adding other spices and/or aromatics. Now that is a super great idea – why toss all those corn cobs! My plan is to make up a few batches for the freezer so that in the dead of winter when I am missing the summer tastes, I can pull out my corn stock from the freezer and have a taste of summer to brighten the day.
Now, I didn’t actually make corn stock for this recipe 🙂 as I wanted something a bit simpler and faster but I borrowed the idea of boiling the corn cobs in the liquid to enhance the flavor of the stock. Here I used vegetable stock and allowed the husks to simmer for about 20 mins. I also found that breaking the cobs in half made them easier to manage in the pot. Yum – the stock turned into a sweet base that really enhanced the flavor of the soup.
I topped the soup with some crispy salty pancetta that compliments the sweetness of the corn. I started the soup by rendering the fat out of the pancetta to make it crispy and used that rendered fat to flavor the soup as well. Lastly, I used an immersion blender to blend the soup right in the pot (best investment if you do not have one! but you can also blend some or all of the soup in a standard blender – careful of hot splatters!). I like to keep the soup on the chunky side but blend away if you’d prefer a smoother soup. Summer yumminess in a bowl!
Repeat until end of corn season! Can’t wait to make this again and change up the flavor profile – Mexican corn soup? Thai corn soup? oooh-la-la – Come on over and visit for some corn soup!
And we are FINALLY off to Italy in a few weeks – so over the top excited to finally be going back!! I will be sure to post lots while there (don’t forget to follow us on Insta @OurItalianTable where we are hanging out mostly these days on social media!)
Most importantly, buon appetito! And happy summer!
A simple summer soup, served hot or at room temperature, that highlights beautiful, sweet summer corn!
- 6 ounces pancetta, diced
- 8 ears fresh corn
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, diced
- 2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
- 4 medium/large Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into ½ inch dice
- Sprig of thyme
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh basil, for garnish
- Fresh thyme, for garnish
In a medium Dutch oven or large pot, slowly cook the pancetta over medium low heat until the fat is rendered and the pancetta is brown and crispy. With a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta to a paper-towel lined plate and reserve for topping.
While the pancetta is cooking, remove the leaves and silks from the corn. Reserve one ear of corn which will be used for garnish. Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the remaining 5 cobs. (The easiest way to do this is to stand up the corn on its end in a deep bowl to keep the kernels from flying everywhere.) Keep the corn cobs to flavor the stock.
To the rendered fat, add the butter and melt over medium low heat. Add in the onion and cook until onion is soft and translucent, 6-8 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add in the stock and turn up heat to medium. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer. Add in the corn cobs. (You may want to break them in half to make them easier to manage.) Cover and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the cobs and discard.
Add in the potatoes, the sprig of thyme and the reserved ear of corn. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the ear of corn and set aside to cool. Add in the corn kernels and simmer for another 10 minutes, until the corn and potatoes are tender.
Using a handheld immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth but still a bit on the chunky side. (Alternatively, puree in a blender but be sure to leave the lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape from the hot soup. Cover the blender with a dishtowel to be sure the hot liquid does not splatter.) Taste the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. Allow to simmer for another 15 minutes.
Taste one more time and adjust salt and pepper if needed. Cut the cooked kernels off the reserved whole cob. Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with the crispy pancetta, whole kernels, thyme and basil. Serve!