What to CookVegetarian CookingCooking with Scraps

The Surprising Ingredient That'll Make Corn Soup Taste Cornier

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When corn season hits full stride, I get greedy at the farmers market. I load up on a dozen every time, and feast on it every which way (grilled, polenta-fied, sliced into salads, and baked into cheesy tomato pies) until I can go back and repeat the cycle, binging my way through the hottest days of summer with cob after glorious cob.

In my rush to get to the sweet, crunchy kernels, I sometimes hastily rip off and discard the silky strands and husks. Abstractly I know that the corn’s outer layers can be re-used, perhaps as a flavorful bed for smoked salmon or as a wrapper once again, like for tamales. In practice, though, they’re typically relegated to the compost bin.

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Where I once saw the corn as the true prize, and the husks merely as packaging, whose re-use was more trouble than it was worth, SKK has taught me the error of my ways.

Her soup—in which the husks are used, along with fennel frends to make a stock—already has me slowing down this summer. Now, I'm savoring not only the fresh sweet corn, but its flavor-packed wrapping, too. While making stock first might sound fussy, it’s not overly complicated or time-consuming, and you’re getting a far better final result thanks to the use of not one, but two scraps.

Her corn soup is light and refreshing, with just the slightest kick of spice to keep things interesting. As SKK says, corn is the star of the dish​—but it's able to truly shine thanks to the scrap-filled stock.

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Corn Soup with Corn Husk Stock

8a5161fb 3215 4036 ad80 9f60a53189da  buddhacat SKK
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Makes 4 cups

Corn Husk and Fennel Stock

  • Husks from 3 ears of corn, about 3 cups
  • Fennel fronds from 2 fennel bulbs, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 liters water (The water amount is approximate, the idea is to just cover the greens.)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (use 1/2 teaspoon per liter)

Corn Soup

  • 3 cups corn, cut off cob
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup corn husk fennel stock
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Grated parmesan for garnish
  • Basil chiffonade for garnish

Know of a great recipe hiding in the Food52 archives that uses an overlooked kitchen scrap (anything from commonly discarded produce parts to stale bread to bones and more)? Tell me about it in the comments: I want to know how you're turning what would otherwise be trash into a dish to treasure!

Tags: cooking with scraps, corn, corn husks