First, I used it to make Grilled White Corn Soup with Leeks and Roasted Peppers, one of the best soups I know how to make and, to be frank, the reason I chose to cook with corn this week. The recipe comes from the famous Rancho La Puerta, just across the Mexican border from San Diego.
It has been described as the first destination fitness resort and spa – it opened in 1940 – and one reason for its enduring fame is its food. Actually, if the only thing they made there was Grilled White Corn Soup with Leeks and Roasted Peppers, that would be reason enough to go.
Though it is fairly hearty, this soup is just as good served chilled as it is hot. The flavor comes mostly from lightly seared kernels of corn, plus leeks and a roasted red pepper. An assortment of aromatics – celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaf – provides a sturdy backbone for the wholesome and satisfying flavor of the corn.
Grilled White Corn Soup with Leeks and Roasted Peppers
Yield: 6 servings
4 ears sweet corn, white or yellow, shucked and silk removed
2 leeks, white part only, washed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for the pan, divided
1/2 rib celery, minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
5 cups vegetable stock or water
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon minced chives
1. Over a medium bowl, cut off the corn kernels with a sharp knife. You should have about 2 1/2 cups.
2. In a lightly oiled, heavy-bottomed sauté pan, sear the corn in batches over medium heat until it has a few black spots.
3. Set aside 1/2 cup of the corn and 1/4 cup each of the diced leeks and pepper. In a 4-quart pot, heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the remaining corn, leeks, peppers, celery and garlic. Cook slowly, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add the stock, thyme, bay leaf and salt.
4. Cook until the vegetables are tender. Remove the bay leaf. In a blender or food processor, puree soup until smooth. Add the black pepper and taste for seasoning, adding more salt if desired.
5. Just before serving, sauté the reserved corn, leeks and peppers in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil and add them to the hot soup. Garnish with a pinch of chives. This soup is also excellent served chilled.
Per serving: 105 calories; 3 g fat; no saturated fat; no cholesterol; 4 g protein; 19 g carbohydrate; 7 g sugar; 2 g fiber; 1,025 mg sodium; 34 mg calcium
– From “Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho la Puerta,” by Deborah Szekely and Deborah M. Schneider, with Jesús González