Don’t look too closely at this photo. No, really! A close inspection of this soup might not be so pleasant on the eyes, nor the tummy …
Having had a rather intense week at work, I have been resorting to Bill’s Everyday Asian when I haven’t been reaching for the telephone to order (another) pizza home-delivery. One particular evening, I felt that making this Sweetcorn Soup from scratch, using fresh corn, would be a welcome distraction from the stressful events which had been taking place in the office.
As I proceeded to slice into the corn cobs, I suddenly had kernels splattering all over the kitchen counter and floor, landing everywhere but on the chopping board itself. And then I remembered a tip from a magazine where a reader had suggested placing the corn cob in the centre of a bundt tin, which would hold the cob in place whilst you proceeded to slice off the kernels and which would fall into the bundt tin itself. So I proceeded as suggested and had some limited success in capturing half of the kernels, but then had difficulties with the cob getting stuck in the centre of the tin. Half an hour and six corn cobs later, and faced with a yellow-studded kitchen counter that was hardly calm-inducing, I conceded that it may have been easier to simply open a few tins of corn. And although the first part of the recipe succeeded in keeping my mind off work while I made a mess of the kitchen, next time, I should probably choose a recipe which involves more satisfying and tension-reducing prep work, maybe something involving a meat cleaver.
The soup itself is rather easy to make. If you are wanting to recreate the sweetcorn soup that is often served in Chinese restaurants, the flavours are all there in Bill’s recipe. However, the texture is not quite the same. The proper Chinese versions usually have more broth to corn ratio, and the soup is often thickened with cornflour to give that smooth and silky texture. Bill’s recipe is perhaps more of a Western-style chunky corn soup with ginger, soy sauce and mirin added for an Asian touch.
His recipe specifies blending half of the soup, and it is either this step or adding the beaten egg (or both), that turns this fresh and wholesome-looking corn soup into something which you are probably unlikely to be able to serve to your kids (unless you perhaps blindfold them). And I’m glad that I’m not the only one to have made this observation. This particular soup was also reviewed at the fun blog, A Cookbook A Month.
Although the soup tastes great, it’s hard to deny that we also eat with our eyes. Moreover, due to the high concentration of corn in this soup, it is rather filling so you would probably only want a small bowl of this soup.
Overall, I’m happy to have tried this recipe but it didn’t quite hit the spot for me. Rather disappointing because fresh corn comes at a hefty price in Zurich. Bill points out that you would be forgiven for using frozen or tinned corn, which is worth knowing if you need to get dinner on the table fast.
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced and separated into white and green parts
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons ginger, finely grated
600 g fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob (about 4-6 cobs of corn)
1 litre (4 cups) chicken stock
500 ml (2 cups) boiling water
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons mirin
coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
freshly ground white pepper
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and gently fry the white part of the spring onions, garlic and ginger for a few minutes. Add the corn kernels, chicken stock and water and bring to the boil. Reduce the soup to a simmer and cook for about 20-30 minutes until the corn is tender.
Remove half of the soup to a blender and blend, or into a large bowl to purée with a stick blender. Return the puréed soup to the pan. Slowly pour in the beaten eggs in a thin stream, stirring the soup constantly as you do. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil and mirin. Taste for seasoning and maybe add some freshly ground white pepper. Serve with a sprinkling of fresh coriander (cilantro) and the green spring onions (scallions).
Recipe adapted from Bill Granger’s, Bill’s Everyday Asian