The dreary first day of spring made me long for a taste of summer. Fortunately, I had one in the freezer: a pint container of Morning Glory Farm corn. It would be easy to make a simple corn soup. The yellow brightness of the corn would compliment the daffodils on the sill, bought yesterday for the American Cancer Society. Those splashes of color would at least punctuate the grey outside.
Every August I'll buy several dozen ears of corn to put up. After shucking, I boil the ears for five minutes and then plunge them into the kitchen sink, which is filled with cold water and ice. As soon as they are cold enough to handle easily, I milk each ear with a corn scraper. A scraper is a small hand tool that you rub against the ear. It cuts into each kernel releasing the juice, the milk of the corn, which you collect in a bowl. I prefer this to cutting off the kernels. The milk gives you the essence of corn flavor and freezes well. Throughout the winter, I'll defrost a container from time to time to make a corn pudding or a corn soup and recapture a bite of summer.
Cilantro Dipping Sauce
(from the South Beach Diet cookbook)
1/2 cup cilantro sprigs
1/4 cup parsley sprigs
1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
1 clove garlic
1 Serrano chile pepper, seeded (wear plastic gloves when handling)
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. lime juice
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. water
Sprig cilantro, for garnish
Add cilantro, parsley, almonds, garlic, pepper, and salt to Cuisinart. Chop. Add oil and lime juice while the motor is going until smooth. Put in a small bowl. Add water.
Simple Corn Soup
1 pint corn
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. cumin
2 Tbs. oil
2 Tbs. butter
Salt to taste
1 jalapeno pepper
2 cups or more broth
1 cup or more milk
Parsley or cilantro to garnish
Sauté chopped onion, garlic, pepper, and cumin in oil and butter for ten minutes. Add broth and corn. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add milk. Heat. Serve. Garnish with cilantro or parsley.
I chopped an onion and minced three cloves of garlic and a jalapeno pepper. In a heavy pot, I sautéed these in butter and oil with a teaspoon of cumin and some salt to taste for about ten minutes. Then I added two cups of vegetable broth (it was what I had on hand. I'm sure chicken would be as good or better) and the pint of defrosted corn. I let this mixture simmer gently on top of the stove for about 15 minutes to mix all the flavors. I added milk, about one cup, until the soup was the consistency I wanted. I warmed this and served it up. A quick fix indeed.
I happened to have a bit of left over cilantro dip, which I'd made from the South Beach Diet Cookbook. I added a small spoonful as a garnish with the soup, and it was delicious. Adding a few springs of cilantro or parsley would have also been fine, boosting color and flavor.
I was doubly happy. The soup did the trick of nourishing body and spirit on a gloomy day. It also helped me start spring-cleaning. I want to use up last year's blueberries and corn and other things I squirreled away. The shift from wanting to hoard to wanting to use up is good news. It tells me I'm getting ready for the coming season, throwing off the winter and eager to start fresh.
Laura Wainwright is a frequent contributor to The Times.