From this summer of food, there’s one simple dish that stands out in my mind, so delicious and evocative of the season – RIGHT NOW – that if you try it a month from now it just won’t be the same.
Recently my friend Robin, owner of the local and popular Callicoon Wine Merchant, had some friends over for a lovely meal. Here at his home in the hills of the Beechwoods, surrounded by farms and fields of wildflowers, it was one of this summer’s rare hot nights. The free-ranging conversation ran from raising kids to raising pigs.
The first course was a pretty and welcomed butter-yellow corn soup, served cool. Not chilled, not cold. Cool. Purees are nice served cool and the process allows for the flavors to truly mingle.
Other than corn, the pronounced flavor was fresh chervil. I thought it was a brilliant combo, more so than Robin, who actually prefers it with basil. But what he served was so delicious it stuck with me for days after. So when I saw the farmers selling the season’s freshest corn at Sunday’s market, I decided to make my own.
I swapped out the chervil with tarragon, one of my other favorite summer herbs, preserving the subtle licorice-y flavor. I also included a dash of Philly-made St. Lucifer, my go-to spice when looking to add a slight kick of flavor and heat. This soup’s got great sweet-and-savory appeal and to me just screams summer.
The seasons will soon change and for my family, the river, the time spent with our Catskill friends, and perfectly ripe corn, will all be a lovely memory, as will this delicious butter-yellow corn soup.
Make it now.
CORN SOUP WITH TARRAGON
1 T. Butter
1 Carrot, medium, chopped
1 Onion, small to medium, chopped
½ celery stalk, chopped
1/8 t. sweet paprika
1/8 t. St. Lucifer – optional
3 ears fresh corn, cut off cob with scraped milk*
¼ cup cream
2 cups water or to desired thickness
1 + T. chopped fresh tarragon
½ t. salt to taste
1. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add vegetables and spices, excluding corn. Saute until softened but not browned.
2. Add corn, cream and water. Bring to a simmer. Take off heat. Add tarragon and season to taste. Allow to cool off a bit.
3. Puree in a processor or blender. I used a processor because that’s what I had on hand. The texture is not quite as smooth but still tastes great.
4. Serve it hot, room temp or cool, all good.
* When cutting corn off the cob, break the ears in half so that you're cutting off of a shorter half cob. The corn kernels won’t spray all over the kitchen.