Monday, October 21, 2013

Chilled Corn Soup with Crab: Goodbye Summer, It's Been Great

There's this wonderful few weeks of overlap where the biggest harvest of summer bounty mingles with the first apples and winter squashes of fall. For those of us with a full four seasons, we get a second planting of lettuces and greens, and we get a nice long goodbye to summer favorites with a few tomatoes lingering into October.

I love this time of year. When the change of seasons come, I welcome the new harvest. When winter comes, it may sound strange, but I also welcome the absence of abundance. We humans are funny creatures. It seems like we have to know absence to really be grateful for what we have. When spring greens show up, I am so excited for their fresh, bright flavor. I know, without winter, I wouldn't feel this so deeply.

All things have their place.

So, before the apple recipes and pumpkins arrive on my table (and they do), let's take a moment to say a loving goodbye to summer favorites.

I had a chilled corn soup at a new restaurant here in town, called Novel. The chef was the sous for Momofuku. Crazy to leave that for a relatively small Midwestern city, but we have an amazing food shed here that can draw chefs from afar, or bring them back home even from Europe.

This is not their recipe. This is me tasting their food and interpreting what I taste into a recipe of my own. I probably missed a few elements, but still landed in a place I am happy with. The crazy thing about this rich, creamy soup is that is has absolutely no dairy in it at all. It's guilt free. It is not effortless, however.

Okay, let's get started.

For the corn and stock:
6 ears of corn
2 bay leaves
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 ribs celery, chopped
6 cups water

For the soup:
Kernels from the six ears of corn
4 cups stock, reserve the other two cups in freezer for another use
1/2 tsp. salt or to taste
white pepper to taste

Sriracha sauce
12 oz. cooked, chilled large lump crab meat (or claw meat)
2 small squares of nori (seaweed), sliced in thin ribbons
1 green jalapeño, seeded, and sliced very thin

Shuck the corn and blanch it for 2 minutes. Allow to cool. Using a chef's knife, slice the kernels and the corn "milk" onto a baking sheet. Do not throw away the corn cobs. Reserve the corn and any of the corn "milk," or liquid from the corn). Add the corn cobs to a stock pot with the other ingredients for the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, covered for one and a half hours. Strain the solids.

Add the corn and its liquid to a blender along with stock. You need to do this in batches. Once the soup is pureed, use a chinois and press it with the pestle in a rolling motion around the sides of the sieve to get all the liquid. The soup will be creamy and rich from the corn without any added fats or cream. Season with salt and white pepper to taste, then chill.

To serve, portion about 3/4 of chilled soup per bowl, six bowls total. Place 2 oz. of crab in the center of each bowl. Make 3 dots of Sriracha at the edges of the bowl, alternating with 2 slices of jalapeño. Add a few slivers of nori. It's got a subtle fishy-seaweed scent to it, like the air at the beach.

Say a loving farewell to summer.

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