It’s simply the best of the last of the garden. Eight ears of the last of the sweet corn. Cobs scraped completely clean, releasing all that sweet corn “milk.” I think it’s what makes this soup special.
But perhaps, too, it’s that I added in the last few peppers still standing on my counter. Another handful of tomatoes that were picked green in the back garden, but managed to ripen despite that deep insult. And green onions picked up at the farmer’s market. Plus two palmfuls of teeny purple potatoes (that were a growing experiment by me) from a more experienced gardener friend. Generous pinches of fresh thyme from the terracotta pot on the patio. Twists of pepper. A blessing of salt.
Poach a few shrimp in the hot soup to make it more substantial. Or some smoked haddock would be perfectly at home. Or if you have leftovers, top bowls of soup with a crumbled a link of andouille and some sauteed shrimp for a take on a gumbo. That’s what I’m going to do.
Corn Milk Soup, serves 6 to 8
4 strips bacon, sliced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 nice sized carrot, scrubbed and sliced thinly
1 small green and 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 generous sprig of thyme
1/4 c dry vermouth
8 ears of fresh corn, kernels sliced off, cobs scraped thoroughly with a knife to release all the “milk”
1 chicken spine (optional, but always included for free when you buy a whole chicken)
4 to 6 c water
1/2 c chopped fresh tomatoes
1 1/2 c potatoes, cubed
1 pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined, or smoked fish (optional)
Olive oil, salt and pepper
In a large pot, add a splash of olive oil and the cubed bacon and cook over medium heat until crisp. Turn the heat to low, add the vermouth. Add the onion, peppers, carrots and thyme. Cook until soft, six to eight minutes. Add the corn with its milk, stir well. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken spine and the water as necessary. It took about four cups when I made this. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer, cooking for an hour an a half. Remove the chicken spine. Add in the tomatoes and potatoes. Simmer 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Just prior to serving, heat soup to a simmer and add in the fish or shellfish and simmer for five to ten minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Playlist included This = Love, by The Script.