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Chilled Corn Soup with Chile Oil and Honeydew

This image courtesy of Daniel Krieger

By borrowing a little from the law of guac, I use coconut milk to give this summertime soup a creaminess and richness. The heat of the chipotle oil plays footsie with the sweet sweet corn, and then, just in case the heat gets intense, little pearls of honeydew work as a fire extinguisher. That chipotle oil is just a basic flavored/colored oil. You can use the process described in the recipe to infuse almost any flavor into an oil (see Notes). This soup also gets a lot of its favor from the bones of the corn, the cobs. I have served kids this same soup, but without the chile oil or honeydew, garnished with Cracker Jacks. Try it, they LOVE IT.

NotesA chinois is good for straining large quantities of food from one vessel to the other, but you have to use a spatula or spoon to scrape and push the food through. A towel allows you to squeeze food through, and provides better filtration than a chinois and cheesecloth, but you risk ruining a towel and, if the food is hot, you could be burned. Cheesecloth, in my opinion, is only really good for making a custom-sized pouch of things that you want to submerge in a liquid (a sachet). The nutmilk bag filters as much as a towel and can be used as a sachet, but it isn't very large and can't be scraped, meaning you could burn your hands if the food is hot. A coffee filter has the most filtration, but is the smallest and can't be squeezed, meaning gravity will take its time. The bottom line is this: If you have both a nutmilk bag and a chinois, you don't need the rest. 

Makes8 large bowls

Preparation Time25 min

Preparation Time - Text25 minutes

Cooking Time45 min

Cooking Time - Text45

Cooking Methodsauteeing

CostModerate

Total Timeunder 4 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Formal Dinner Party

Recipe Courseappetizer

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian

Equipmentblender

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturecreamy, fruity, savory

Type of Dishcold soup, soup

Ingredients

  • Large stockpot with a lid
  • Small bowl
  • Large bowl
  • Tongs
  • Large skillet
  • Slotted spoon
  • Ladle
  • Large bowl and ice for sink
  • Blender
  • Nutmilk bag or large coffee filter
  • Melon baller
  • 12 ears of sweet corn, shucked
  • 3 tablespoons corn oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo
  • One 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 ounce (about 8) dried chipotle chiles
  • 1?2 cup corn oil
  • 2 honeydew melons, halved and seeded

Instructions

  1. Make the soup: Chill 8 soup bowls. Bring 1 1?2 quarts water to a boil in a large stockpot.

  2. Using the blade of a sharp knife, cut all of the kernels off the cobs and transfer the kernels to a small bowl. Then use the back side of the knife to scrape the cobs. This is a task best done into a large bowl placed in your sink, unless you like liquid cornstarch all over your kitchen. Cut the scraped cobs in half.

  3. Gently place the scraped cobs and the scrapings (reserving the kernels) into the pot of boiling water and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the cobs with tongs and discard. Set the stock aside.

  4. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of corn oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add 2 cups of the corn kernels and cook until slightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the corn to the small bowl to cool. Cover, and place in the fridge.

  5. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of corn oil to the skillet. Add the onion and jalapeño to the skillet and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the sauce from the chipotles in adobo, and toss the onion and jalapeño around in it until coated, and continue to cook until some of the mixture sticks to the bottom of the pan, about 4 minutes. Ladle a bit of the corn cob liquid into the skillet, scraping the bottom of the pan to release the brown bits. Transfer the contents of the skillet and the remaining uncooked corn kernels into the large stockpot of corn stock. Cover, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, still covered. Add the coconut milk and salt and stir to incorporate. Set a large bowl or storage vessel for the soup in the sink. Working in batches, carefully transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth, then add to the vessel in the sink. Fill the sink with cold water and ice at least halfway up the sides of the vessel, and stir the soup in the vessel to chill rapidly. Once cool, transfer the soup to the fridge to chill further.

  6. Make the chipotle oil: Combine the chipotle chiles with the oil in the cleaned and dried blender. Blend for 4 to 6 minutes at high speed. Pass the oil through a nutmilk bag or coffee filter into a quart container. If you use a nutmilk bag, this will take no time--using a coffee filter will take much longer. Using GLOVED hands, carefully squeeze the solids to remove the last of the oil.

  7. HOLD IT? The corn kernels and soup will hold in the fridge, covered, for 2 days. Or freeze the soup and corn kernels. The chile oil will keep for up to a month in the fridge. Prep the honeydew. Using the melon baller, create as many melon balls as you can from the honeydew, cutting off layers as needed to reach uncut flesh.

  8. PLATE IT! Ladle the soup into the prechilled bowls. Divide the kernels among all of the bowls, placing them in the center of the soup. Add a few honeydew balls, then drizzle with chile oil.

  9. BREAK IT: This would hop right over into Mexican territory with the addition of fully cooked ground chorizo crumbles. The spice will work in tandem with the sweetness of the soup, and the salty cured meat will liven up the rest.

  10. Making favored oils

  11. Almost anything can be made into a flavored oil like we did here. My basic recipe is to add just enough oil to cover the flavoring agent in the blender, then blend until warm (seriously, the blender will heat the oil!), then strain through a nutmilk bag (my preference) or a coffee filter. This method could even be used with the lobster shells to give something some extra color and a flavor bump.

  12. Why cool it so fast?

  13. An interesting note about spoilage. Corn is actually a grain, so this soup can ferment very easily, as it contains the beginnings of mash, which is the beginning of whiskey! Make sure you chill it down in the pot, then refrigerate it or freeze it right away.

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