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It’s fun to have a recipe that goes together swiftly and tastes like it took all day. This curried corn soup with Indian flavors came to me from Nan Cobbey in Belfast who took a cook’s tour of India last year. What a travelogue she regaled her friends, complete with recipes. This one is just what I needed for using up part of my frozen corn supply from last year’s garden.
At some point or another in late summer, the corn ripens faster than I can, or even want to, eat off the cob, so I haul a pile of ears into the kitchen and slice the kernels off into a bowl, spoon them into zip-closing bags, which I flatten to squeeze out the air, zip shut and freeze. Each bag holds about two cups, and one bag made a generous quart or more of soup. You could do this one with frozen or canned corn.
Whenever I encounter a recipe like this I find myself debating between authenticity and “this tastes just fine without exactly the right ingredients.” I simply don’t always have fresh ginger on hand, so I used dried ground ginger. I don’t have black mustard seeds, so I used plain old mustard seeds like the ones I need for pickling. I do have cumin seeds, dried turmeric and cayenne, so I was all set on those. You could get away with just using curry powder.
One secret of Indian cookery is toasting the spices you add to the dish. In this soup, the spices are added to sauteed onion and garlic to bloom into flavor before the corn and water is added. A few moments of cooking the corn, water and spices together, and the soup is ready for pureeing. Check for salt and pepper, serve and garnish with yogurt, chives or cilantro. That’s it. A nice vegetarian soup (vegan if you skip the yogurt and use a butter alternative.)
Don’t forget that if you use a blender for pureeing it, you have to let the soup cool because hot food more or less explodes when blended. If you have an immersion blender (stick blender), one of the best inventions developed by humankind, by the way, then you can blend it hot. I left mine a wee bit chunky and chewy.
Curried Corn Soup
Yields 4 servings
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons ground ginger
¼ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
Generous pinch of mustard seeds
Pinch of cayenne
2 cups corn kernels
3 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped scallions or chives, for garnish
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
1. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, and cook the onions and garlic until they soften. Sprinkle with the spices and heat until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
2. Add corn, water, and salt and pepper to taste.
3. Cook all together for about 15 minutes, adding more water if you want a thinner soup.
4. Once cooked through, puree to the degree of smoothness you prefer.
5. Serve with a dollop of yogurt and the herbs sprinkled on top, optional.