“How sweet I roam’d from field to field,
And tasted all the summer’s pride…”
– William Blake
August is a funny month. Despite the sweltering heat still holding strong — recently triple-digit temperatures around these parts and evidence that summer isn’t going away anytime soon — my social media feeds show otherwise. As I scroll through the labyrinth of posts, vacation and beach pictures have given way to back-to-school photos and end-of-summer lamentations. I’ve even seen quite a few mentions of pumpkin spice lattes and Halloween costumes. Geesh, it’s not even Labor Day.
I’m one of those romantics who hangs onto seasons until the last possible second, when it becomes impractical to cling any further to the fading moment in time. Though fall is my favorite season, and I await its arrival with great expectation, August is still very much summer in my world. And if there were ever a jewel of the summer, it’s corn. Resplendently sweet, golden in hue, her presence is practically mandatory on any summer menu. From boiled and buttered to grilled or sautéed, there is no vegetable that captures the essence of summer quite like sweet corn, especially when it’s procured from a farm stand on the side of the road.
This chilled soup is a refreshing hybrid of creamed corn and a classic vichyssoise. It makes a wonderful palate teaser for a summer menu, but it’s also filling enough for a proper lunch. The lemon gives it a nice zip, balancing the creaminess of the ricotta, and the basil finishes it off with a delightful herby note. A must-try before summer fades to fall!
CHILLED SWEET CORN SOUP
Ingredients (serves 4):
6 ears of corn, shucked, kernels cut off
1 leek, white portion coarsely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp half & half
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
A few basil leaves for garnish
Add olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Stir in leeks and sauté for 4-5 minutes until soft. Add the corn kernels and season with salt and pepper. Sauté 5 minutes and then add the vegetable stock. Bring the mix to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover with a lid and let simmer for about 30 minutes until the corn is softened. Allow the soup to cool slightly and then add half of the soup to a blender and purée until smooth. Transfer the puréed soup to a large bowl, blend the remaining half of the soup, and then transfer to the bowl as well. Stir in the lemon juice, half & half, and season again with salt and pepper. Cover the bowl with cling film and chill in the fridge until cold. Serve with a dollop of ricotta cheese and garnish with fresh basil leaves.