2018-08-09 / From The Garden

Cool Off Summer with Chilled Soup

By Cynthia Gibson

No one wants to spend time in a hot kitchen during the summer. Add humidity to the equation and the thought of a chilled soup instantly hits the spot.

Chilled summer soups are easy to make, and easy is another word we like to hear during the summer. Given the energy-draining heat we have had, a cup or bowl of chilled soup sounds just about perfect for lunch or dinner.

The easiest chilled summer soups to make are frozen pea and corn, along with cucumber, gazpacho, borscht and tomato-basil. All the ingredients are available at the supermarket, while any farmer’s market will have garden grown vegetables and fruits. The fresher, right-from-the-garden taste you can achieve, the better.

Corn soup is extremely popular. At the end of July and the beginning of August, Aquidneck Island corn is ready for picking. No corn is sweeter or crisper than our island corn, which are two elements for a perfect chilled corn soup.

Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She tends her miniature orchard in Newport. For finding premium corn, there is the famous “back of the truck” corn sold on the side of Valley Road, near the corner of Green End Avenue. Walkers’ Roadside Vegetable stand in Little Compton also has great yellow, white and bi-colored corn. Their all-white corn has a milder taste than the other two varieties and is less sweet.

Cut kernels from the cob with a knife and place them in a bowl. Using a second bowl, take an old-fashioned box grater, use the side with the largest holes and grate the remains of the kernels and their juice from each of the three cobs. Reserve the liquid, discard cobs.

Melt butter in a large sauce pan, add shallots and stir until they are transparent, then add the corn kernels, garlic, stock, salt and pepper. Add the reserved liquid and small bits from the corn cobs. Bring all the ingredients to a boil and immediately reduce the heat and simmer for four minutes.

Continue to stir. Transfer the ingredients when they are warm, to a blender.

Add the olive oil and puree for two minutes. If you place the liquid in the blender while the ingredients are hot, the top will fly off your blender. Wait until the liquid is just above room temperature.

After the corn kernels and other ingredients are liquefied, place a hand strainer over the top of a large bowl and pour in the corn puree. Press the liquid through the mesh of the strainer. The dregs of corn kernels will remain in the strainer. Throw them out.

Cover with clear wrap and chill for four to six hours.

Serve in a clear glass bowl on a saucer if possible, as the soup is a lovely yellow color, and top with garnish of choice. After the soup has chilled, add salt and pepper if necessary.

To make a richer version of this soup, replace one cup of vegetable stock with one-half cup heavy cream and one-half cup chicken stock. Just remember to make two batches, so you can chill.

This recipe is perfect for a hot August night or afternoon luncheon.

Chilled Corn Soup (Serves 6)

3 large ears fresh sweet corn, taken off the cob (save the cobs)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves minced
3/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Toppings: crispy bacon bits, finely chopped basil or cilantro, or chives

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