[Warning! This post contains Top Chef Season 17 spoilers.]
I didn’t say it was logical, I think we know better than to expect clear, sound reasoning here, but when cookbooks decided that cauliflower could be pizza crusts or that black beans could go in brownies, I’m sorry, but I checked out. But this summer in particular, as plant-based diets are on evermore agendas, I’ve seen so many creative uses of corn — as ribs, twice, corn butter, and now, a surged interest in a longtime restaurant kitchen staple, corn stocks — and I love it; I’m all in.
A few weeks ago, People Magazine ran my blueberry muffin recipe and on my way to find it, I ran into this winning corn-coconut soup from beloved Top Chef Season 17 winner, Melissa King, and had to make it right away. It absolutely delivered. Because you first make a corn stock from corn cobs, ginger, onion, and water, the soup is completely vegan and more deeply corn-flavored than it would be from a mixed vegetable stock. From there, you sauté the kernels, more onion, and garlic, simmer it with the stock and coconut milk, blend it, and finish it with lime juice. The resulting soup is mellow and delicious — the pickiest human in my family not only ate it, she vocally reconsidered her previously-held stance on not liking my cooking, and requested it for lunch the next day. (I am still recovering.)
The rest of us had fun with garnishes — chile oil, cilantro, lime, and because we couldn’t choose, both crispy and pickled shallots. The soup would also be good with croutons and diced roasted sweet peppers (King’s suggestions) and/or toasted coconut flakes. There’s such a coziness to the soup; I want to pack it up for a friend or stash some in the freezer for later this winter. I can’t wait to see what you do with it.
Six months ago: Pina Colada
One year ago: Salted Caramel Pretzel Blondies
Two year ago: Foolproof Cacio e Pepe
Three years ago: Cheesecake Bars with All The Berries and Corn Chowder with Chile, Lime, and Cotija
Four years ago: Eggplant Parmesan Melts and Even More Perfect Blueberry Muffins
Five years ago: Angel Hair Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce, Crispy Peach Cobbler, and Corn Chowder Salad
Six years ago: Strawberries and Cream with Graham Crumbles and Corn Cheddar and Scallion Strata
Seven years ago: Almond-Crisped Peaches, Key Lime Popsicles and Zucchini Parmesan Crisps
Eight years ago: Mediterranean Baked Feta with Tomatoes, Leek, Chard, and Corn Flatbread and Vanilla Custards with Roasted Blueberries
Nine years ago: Hazelnut Plum-Crumb Tart, Zucchini Fritters, and Naked Tomato Sauce
Ten years ago: Eggplant Salad Toasts and Peach Shortbread
Eleven years ago: Griled Eggplant and Olive Pizza and Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting
Twelve years ago: Slow-Roasted Tomatoes, Kefta and Zucchini Kebabs and Dimply Plum Cake
Thirteen years ago: Double Chocolate Torte and Spicy Soba Noodles with Shiitakes
Fourteen years ago: Moules Frites and 44-Clove Garlic Soup
Corn Coconut Soup
- 2 large yellow onions
- 3 quarts (2.8 liters) water
- 4 large ears or 5 medium-large fresh corn, kernels cut from cobs, cobs reserved
- 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) canola, safflower, or another neutral oil
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1 (13.5-ounce or 400-ml) can full-fat coconut milk, well-stirred
- Juice of half a lime
- To garnish: Fresh cilantro leaves, lime wedges, toasted coconut flakes, (see below for next three) chile oil, pickled shallots, and/or crispy shallots
Make soup: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium. Add corn kernels, sliced onion, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent and soft, about 15 minutes. Add 4 cups of the reserved corn stock; bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 20 minutes. Add coconut milk and lime juice. Remove from heat.
Working in batches, pour mixture into a blender. Secure lid but remove the center piece to allow steam to escape. Or, you can use an immersion blender in the pot, as I did. Process until very smooth. Pour soup through a strainer into a pot — I didn’t do this but wished I had — and discard solids.
Serve: Ladle into bowls. Top with garnishes of your choice.
To make a tiny batch of chile oil: Place 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper in a small heatproof bowl. Heat 1/4 cup neutral oil in a small skillet over medium-high until shimmering, then pour over red pepper. Let stand 10 minutes and pour through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding the pepper flakes. Dot over soup with caution.
To pickle shallots: Thinly slice two large shallots. Add to a bowl with 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons cold water, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and a slightly heaped 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Set in fridge until needed. Shallots will be very lightly pickled by the time you’re done making the soup, but if you can give it 1 to 2 hours in the fridge, they’ll be more so.
To make crispy shallots: Thinly slice two large shallots. In a small skillet, heat 1/2-inch of oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the shallots to the skillet, breaking them into rings as you place them in. Cook until deeply golden, watching them carefully, stirring occasionally, and then transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle immediately with salt. They will continue to darken after being removed from the skillet.