Summer Sweet Corn Bisque
Is it just me or does it not really feel like summer until there is corn on the cob? As soon as July hits I think my family has corn on the cob just about every night of the week. One year my mother tried to give my brothers and I frozen corn from the grocery store during the winter but after being spoiled by the sweet local corn from Hadley all our lives we refuted her attempt. Ever since then, my mother freezes about thirty quart size bags of corn at the end of every summer for us to use throughout the winter. Now that it is peak season for corn on the cob, however, I am trying to use up the last few bags from last year to make room for this years corn.
I decided to make a corn bisque with the last few bags of corn along with some of the fresh fennel from our farm share. This bisque looks similar to a corn chowder, however, it does not contain any cream so it is lighter and perfect for summer. You can enjoy it whichever way you prefer to eat soup in the summer – warm or cold. It is a great way to use up seasonal leftover corn “off” the cob or freezer corn. Corn is in season from May to September and is best enjoyed (or cooked) the day it is picked. This is because after corn is picked it’s natural sugars convert to starches making it tougher and less sweet. When picking out corn you should look for tight, brightly colored husks with golden colored silk. The milky kernels should appear full and be tightly packed together in neat rows that extend to the top of the cob.
The most popular varieties of corn include White Country Gentleman, which is known for its sweetness and Yellow Golden Bantam, which is known for its fuller corn flavor. One of the most common corn crops available in New England is a hybrid of the aforementioned varieties. It is known as Butter and Sugar corn. Butter and Sugar corn is a combination of small white and yellow kernels that are packed with a sweet buttery flavor.
Corn often gets a bad rap because people assume it has minimal nutritional advantages. This summertime favorite is loaded with vitamins (A, B, C, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium), fiber, folic acid, and lutein (antioxidant). Native Americans are credited with establishing this bountiful crop in America, which still remains a staple in American’s diets and agricultural industry today. The most common byproducts of corn include: corn flour, corn meal, corn oil, corn starch, corn syrup, whiskey, bourbon and popcorn. There are uses for the entire crop such as medicinal remedies made from corn silk.
Summer Sweet Corn Bisque
2 Tablespoons of butter (I used herb butter)
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion
3-4 garlic scapes (if garlic scapes are unavailable use 4 cloves of garlic instead)
1 small bulb of fennel
1 small summer squash
2 lbs. of fresh (or frozen) sweet corn
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/2 cup of water
Salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
Heat up butter and olive oil in a large sauce pan. Roughly chop your onion, garlic scapes, fennel bulb and summer squash. Add onion, garlic scapes, and fennel bulb to the pan. Cook over medium low heat until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Add about a tablespoon of salt.
Then add the summer squash and one pound of the corn. Cook together for 1-2 minutes. Add the milk and water. Cover the pot and bring to a low boil. Cook until all of the vegetables have softened.
Remove the pot from the heat and puree using an immersion hand blender or blender. Stir in the remaining corn kernels. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy with a piece of crusty sourdough bread.
Sources: “Vegetarian [Paperback].” Vegetarian: Nicola Graimes: 9780760749531: Amazon.com: Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2012. (45) “The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion (Deluxe Edition) [Hardcover].” The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion (Deluxe Edition): Sharon Tyler Herbst, Ron Herbst: 9780764162411: Amazon.com: Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2012. (502)