Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vegan Corn Soup

I didn't start out trying to rid my kitchen of meat. Once I got started though, I couldn't stop! It became a challenge: how long can I keep the meat-free kitchen going? And so healthy eating month gradually became Vegetarian Cooking Month, with the eggplant, squash, and chickpeas dominating my cooking. And boy howdy has it worked. That's right ladies and gentlemen, with a week to go I weighed in at 132.3 this morning! Two asterisks here. One, there's been some serious gym attendance involved. Like 6 out of 7 days last week type of gym attendance (after returning to yoga for the first time in several months, I could barely lift my arms the next day).

And two, I am not a vegetarian. Not even temporarily. I have been eating meat, I'll order it when we go out and I'll grab a turkey sandwich for lunch at work. As far as cooking goes, however, I have been meat free since late July and since I prepare most of my own meals, that means a significant reduction in overall meat consumption. Apparently I am not alone on my quest to cut back on meat without cutting it completely from my diet. I heard a story on NPR about Meatless Mondays, a movement to reduce meat consumption across the country by 15%. The idea is to take Monday, a day where you are starting fresh and making good choices, and reducing the amount of saturated animal fat that you consume. Once this month of meat free cooking is over, I think I'll continue on by joining this campaign!

Strolling around the local farmers market last Sunday, I realized with horror that I had been neglecting one key late summer veggie. Corn. How could I have forgotten about sweet, fresh, summer corn! It's one of the first things I ever learned to cook when I moved out on my own, and yet the only time I've even glanced at it this summer was the experiment with grilling back in early July. I've been cheating on corn, running around with that little hussy the eggplant and those trampy chickpeas. As the farmer dumped a fresh bag of corn out on the table I dove, begging corn to take me back. $2 and 5 ears of corn later, I had just the dish to make things right with the betrayed.

I wanted to make a corn soup. My first thought was corn chowder, with its creamy deliciousness. As I shopped recipes, however, I quickly realized most of these required ridiculous amounts of heavy cream. Heavy cream that has 50 calories per tablespoon. Not the slenderizing soup I was looking for. Finally I hit upon a recipe that called for only low fat milk, and most of the comments said the milk really wasn't necessary at all. Swap out the chicken stock for vegetable stock and suddenly my soup was fully vegan. Score.

Vegan Corn Soup
Adapted from Bon Appetit

Ingredients:

- 1 1/2 teaspoons of corn oil
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1 small fresh Poblano chili, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 5 ears of sweet yellow or bi color corn, kernels cut from cob
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- Chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:
Heat oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, chili, garlic, and cumin and saute until onion and chili are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add corn to the pot. Stir in broth. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until corn is very tender, about 45 minutes. Use immersion blender to puree soup until fairly smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls; garnish with cilantro and serve.

If you like, you can garnish with an avocado. It complements the flavor nicely!
A few side notes. If you don't own an immersion blender you can puree in batches by transferring to a blender or food processor. I heart my immersion blender every time I make a pureed soup and don't have to haul hot liquid, clean a blender, or worry about steam blowing the lid off said blender. If you make a lot of sauces and soups, this thing is great. Since it isn't a closed device, however, you don't get nearly as smooth a blend as you would if you used your other blending appliances. I liked a slightly chunky corn soup, Will felt it could have been smoother. Use your own judgement. Also the original recipe called for mixing in the milk at the blending phase to get the soup to a desired consistency. If you don't care about the soup being vegan and you want something creamier, you can add about 1 1/2 cups of milk at that point. Personally I thought the soup was a little on the thin side anyway and did not require additional liquid, and a taste test confirmed it was excellent without the milk. But the option is open to you.

The soup was a lovely late summer treat, very sweet (which could change depending on the type of corn you buy) and almost indulgent, without being indulgent at all. Will asked the question that always lets me know the truth of whether or not he's liked a dish. "There's more of this, right?"

1 comment:

Squeaky Gourmet said...

I love it! I love reading about accidental health plans, if you will. How wonderful--I bet your body is over joyed with the healthy additions!

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