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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Corn: A Soup And A Sauce For The Final Few Ears

We're celebrating this season's final few ears of corn! This episode includes two recipes, tips for preserving corn and news on how corn is good for your eyes.

corn on grill

Photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU

Grilling corn gives a nice char to the kernels, says Chef Bob Adkins. "It also burns off a lot of those little hairs that might have slipped through your fingers during the shucking process."

Sure, we may be reaching the very end of corn season, but we absolutely had to do a corn-themed show before winter set in. The two recipes today are best when served with fresh corn, but really you can use them in other ways and in other dishes throughout the year.

Ears For The Eyes

Soon you may see another color of corn on the tables at your local farmers market. Researchers at Purdue University are working with orange corn to build up vitamin A levels and hopefully fight childhood blindness in Africa.

Torbert Rocheford, Professor of Agronomy at Purdue, led the study. He says in parts of Africa people will eat three meals a day that come from ground corn.” In the last 30-40 years, our diets have become less diverse in parts of the world – they eat more cereals.”

These researchers are breeding natural variations of corn for enhanced nutrients, something the Aztec and Maya Indians had been doing for millennia. “And that’s a big big part of my research, because in Africa there’s no country that has the bio-safety regulatory approval process to let GMOs [Genetically Modified Organisms]  come in.”

But what about the taste? Though there has been no formal taste test, Rocheford says he likes the taste better than yellow corn. “What we’re excited about is if young children in Africa grow up eating orange corn and the flavor is better or distinct, then they get used to that and that’s what they want to eat.”

More: Read more about Torbert Rocheford’s research with orange corn in the blog post.

Preserving Corn

corn in the husk

Photo: Mr Noded (flickr)

Amy Jeanroy says, “Corn is a summer treat that can’t be matched by frozen ears in the freezer section.” Her recipe is a great way to enjoy the summer taste of corn all winter.

If you’re buying up the last few ears of fresh corn at market, consider preserving them to enjoy into December and January. I spoke with our resident preservation expert Amy Jeanroy to get some suggestions. Her recipe couldn’t be simpler: cut fresh corn off the cob, mix it with water, sugar, and salt, and bag it up. “It’s just a good beginning recipe to start putting things away. Not so daunting as some people think canning can be.”

She uses this corn in a variety of ways in her cooking over the winter months: corn chowder, fish chowder, potato chowder, and any other kind of cream-based soup.

More: Check out Amy Jeanroy’s blog post about this rebel method for preserving corn.

Corn and Avocado Chowder

Here’s a perfect example of how to use the preserved corn: Corn and Avocado Chowder. The man in front of the stove today is David Wade, the owner and manager of Inner Chef in Bloomington, Indiana.

The way we are serving this dish, corn serves as a sort of garnish. “If you wanted to,” Wade suggests, “you could reverse this and make more of a broth/soup with corn and add a little bit of the avocado cream as the garnish instead.”

  • corn cooking in pan

    Image 1 of 3

    Photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU

    When toasting the corn in a pan, Wade suggests using your nose more than your eyes. "The corn will become very sweet and very fragrant. What you’re going for is more of a smell than a done-ness."

  • chowder in cup

    Image 2 of 3

    Photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU

    Wade suggests only a small portion of the chowder. "This is extremely rich stuff!"

  • david wade chase potter

    Image 3 of 3

    Photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU

    David Wade (left) and Chase Potter prepare the chowder as part of a cooking demonstration.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large, ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or more
  • 1/4 cup minced scallions
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, plus 6 sprigs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne or ground red pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

Directions:

  1. In batches in a food processor, puree the avocados, chicken stock, scallions, lemon juice, cilantro, 1 teaspoon of the salt and the cayenne.
  2. Pour into a soup tureen or large pitcher and stir in the heavy cream just before serving.
  3. Slice kernels off fresh ears of corn.
  4. In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the corn kernels, cumin and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook until fragrant and golden brown (about 5 minutes) stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove from the heat and garnish each serving of soup with 2 tablespoons of the toasted corn and 1 sprig of cilantro.

More: Like avocados? Try this recipe for guacamole.

Mexican-Style Grilled Corn

corn and sauce

Photo: Megan Meyer/WFIU

"In the U.S., we like to eat our corn with butter and salt and pepper," says Chef Bob Adkins. "But in different cultures, they’ll utilize other things to spice up their corn."

Chef Bob Adkins is manning the grill for our second recipe. He’ll be making a Mexican creme that is tasty enough to spoon over just about anything. “It’s a good all-purpose sauce,” he says. “This would be great on any number of vegetables or on fish or poultry.”

But this sauce is a great way to re-imagine the traditional corn on the cob.

Ingredients:

  • 4 ears corn, husked
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup chili paste
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • salt and pepper to taste

To garnish:

  • lime wedges
  • grated cheese
  • cilantro
  • red pepper coulis or Pico Guapo

Directions:

  1. Steam ears of corn before placing them on the grill.
  2. Grill corn until slightly carmelized.
  3. Whisk together cream, mayonnaise, chili paste, parmesan, lemon zest, and salt and pepper.
  4. Garnish with lime wedge, cheese, cilantro, and Pico Guapo.

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Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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