Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Summer Sweet Corn Soup with Crabmeat & Chives

Nothing tastes more like summer than fresh sweet corn on the cob. A good source of folate, fibre, Vitamin C, niacin and thiamine, corn is a healthy and delicious addition to any meal. Harvested in Ontario from early July until the end of September, fields and local markets are full of these plump ears right now. Look for corn that has bright green and moist husks, plump kernels and damp yellow feathery silk. Because corn starts to lose its natural sugar soon after it's been picked, it's important to cook the ears as soon as you can after you bring them home. This is when they'll be the sweetest. So take advantage of summer's sweet corn while it's at its peak, and try this sensational silky smooth recipe for Summer Sweet Corn Soup with Lump Crabmeat & Chives, from Atlanta's Chef Jay Swift.

Chef-owner Jay Swift of Atlanta's '4th & Swift'

Chef Swift takes advantage of local produce when planning his daily market menu, and his fresh corn soup with lump crabmeat is a highlight with guests.
The combination of sweet summer corn and delicate crabmeat is hard to beat. If you're feeling flush, you can use more crab, up to double the quantity. Serve the soup with something simple, such as grilled bread, topped with thin-sliced prosciutto, or one of my favourites — Corn & Clam Fritters with Guacamole.

Summer Sweet Corn Soup with Crabmeat & Chives
Serves 4-6
Recipe and soup photo courtesy: 4th & Swift in Atlanta, Georgia

10 ears of sweet yellow corn, reserving some niblets for garnish
1 yellow onion
3 tsp vegetable oil
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
6-8 oz steamed or premium store-bought lump crabmeat or lobster
1 /4 cups chopped chives, for garnish
1/ cup crème fraîche, for garnish
Salt and white pepper to taste

Remove corn kernels each cob and with the back of the knife, scrape the cobs to release the corn 'cream.' Discard the cobs.

Bring a large sauce pan or frying pan to low to medium heat and add oil. Sauté the corn and onions but don't allow them to brown. Cook for four minutes.

Add half the stock and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat off and let the stock cool down a bit. Scoop most of the corn into a blender with a ladle, and add more stock if it's too thick, filling the blender about half way. This may require two batches, depending on the size of your blender. Add the cream, place the top on the blender and cover with a towel. Carefully pulse on low at first to get it started safely, then purée at high speed until velvety smooth.

Strain the soup, return to the stove and gently reheat the soup. TTo serve, divide the soup evenly between 4 to 6 soup bowls, and garnish with plump chunks of crabmeat or lobster, fresh cut chives, a dollop of crème fraîche and a sprinkle of old bay seasoning. Serve with a platter of warm Corn & Clam Fritters for an extra special treat.

COOK'S NOTE: Use those cobs! If you’re freezing your corn, or simply cutting the kernels off cobs for a meal, don’t throw away the cobs. They make a delicious and easy stock. Place corn cobs in a large pot and add water, covering it by an inch or so. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer 45 minutes to an hour. Done. Use this stock in soups, stews and chowder recipes. It keeps refrigerated for a few days, or can be frozen for up to a year.

Corn & Clam Fritters with Guacamole
Makes about 20

1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 8 oz can clams, drained
1/2 cup corn kernels, or fresh cob corn
2 green onions, minced
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk

Juice and grated zest of 2 limes - use a microplane to zest the limes
2 ripe Haas avocados

1 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced

1/4 small red onion, minced

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 tsp canned jalapeño peppers, drained and minced

2 very big pinches of salt

A few grinds white or black pepper

For the guacamole, zest and juice the limes into a medium bowl. Slice the avocados in half, skin, pit and then dice the avocados. As you dice each avocado, add it to the bowl and toss to coat with lime juice they don’t brown. Add the tomatoes, onions, cilantro, jalapeño, salt and pepper and stir to combine well. Don’t be tempted to mash the avocados. Leave fairly chunky. 

For the fritters, whisk all the dry ingredients then add the wet, buttermilk last, to form a stiff batter. Pour enough vegetable oil into a skillet to reach a depth of 1/8", topping up when necessary. Over medium heat, work in batches, dropping the batter in teaspoons into the oil. Cook until the fritters are golden brown, turning once, about 2-3 minutes. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the fritters to a rack. Serve warm with a dollop of guacamole on top.