Final Call for Corn-and-Tomato Soup
“I should have called this Last Chance Soup,” says Amy Cotler, who’s been living and cooking in the Berkshires for nearly two decades. The soup is not only another way to savor the last corn of the year but also a last chance to use cherry tomatoes and basil from your garden or favorite farm stand: It’s a seasonal segue, the perfect dish to commemorate the end of Corn Season and the beginning of Soup Season. As the founding director of Berkshire Grown, Cotler is one of the original locavores and next month she’ll publish her new book, The Locavore Way: Discover and Enjoy the Pleasures of Locally Grown Food (Storey Publishing). Her previous books include Fresh from the Farm: The Farm to School Cookbook (MA Department of Education, 2007) and The Secret Garden Cookbook: Recipes Inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s the Secret Garden (Harper Collins, 2000).
Celebration Corn-and-Tomato Soup
Makes four main course servings or six appetizer servings
1 large onion
1 poblano chili
1 jalapeño chili
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon butter
8 ears of corn
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk, preferably whole
2 - 3 ripe tomatoes or 1 basket of cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar or cider vinegar
6 - 8 large basil leaves
1. Dice onion. (I like using a sweet onion.) You’ll want 1-1/2 cups, but if you get less, don’t worry about it. Cut the chilies end to end. Pull out the stem, knock or spoon out the seeds. Cut into strips and dice. Peel and mince garlic cloves.
2. Melt butter over medium heat in a pot or large skillet with a tall lip. Add the onion, chilies and most of the garlic, reserving about 1/3 for later. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
3. Shuck the corn, then remove the silk. Hold each cob, standing up by the large end in bowl. Scrape down the kernels with a sharp knife to remove them, turning as you work. Add kernels to the pot. (If the pot is the right shape, that is more wide than tall, I like to turn off the heat and scrape the corn right into it.)
4. Add chicken stock, salting to taste if it’s homemade. (Less is better than more.) Simmer for 15 minutes. Add milk and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Add the juice of the lemon, then taste, adding salt if necessary.
5. Remove the tops and chop the tomatoes. Or if using cherry tomatoes half or quarter, as you like. Mix in a small bowl with the reserved garlic and the vinegar. Pile the basil leaves on top of each other and roll. Then slice thinly. Do not chill. Reserve the tomatoes and basil for garnish.
6. To serve, heat the soup. Ladle into warm bowls. Spoon the tomato mixture into center of each bowl, dividing it equally. Sprinkle with the basil.