Weeknight Cooking

A Corn Soup For, Yes, Late Winter

March 15, 2010

- Jenny from Rancho Park

Soup on a weeknight.

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That’s right. I said it.

This all may seem daunting to some of you, but I promise you that Buttermilk Corn Soup with Curry & Mint is going to change your mind about the art of the mid-week simmer.

As our days grow longer, and lighter, but we still have miles to go before peaches and heirloom tomatoes grace our markets, a bowl of soup still sounds good to most of us. So with a few key purchases, a person could get through the waning days of March in warm, inviting stead with corn soup.

I was very excited to see the combination of two of my favorite ingredients – buttermilk and mint – together with the matchmaker of frozen corn in this lovely week day recipe brought to us by F for Food.

I should say, she had me at “immersion blender.”

Further, although I love meeting people through their recipes across our great nation of food52, I was excited to learn that F for Food is a blogger living right here with me in Los Angeles, cooking soup at a very alarming rate. I am considering going to her house with a very large spoon and camping out in her front yard, yodeling and mewing for some sustenance. Or, I might just invite her for coffee. It just depends.

Culinary confessions: I don’t like black olives. I refuse to garnish. I have never until this week made vegetable stock. But I figured for this event, I ought to check out Easy Everyday Vegetable Stock, which took under an hour and would have easily been part of a one-night cooking package had I not gotten distracted by American Idol and wondering why the girl with the frizzy hair managed to get slaughtered by the high school girl who sings too much jazz.

So it was on day two that I began with that familiar, soft scent of shallots simmering along in butter, soon joined by frozen sweet corn (I have made this twice and sweet is best if you can find it) and dashes of curry, coriander and cumin. A gentle, warm scent began to rise from the stove. Before finishing this dish with buttermilk and mint, I was told to blend it up with my immersion blender.

This is where things got ugly. I slid it around, I cooked it down more, I moved left and right, but that corn would not liquefy. All of us have myriad scars of the kitchen – add hot splattered corn on the cheek to mine. This whole incident bothered me greatly, as I have always had such good luck with my immersion blender.

Heavy of heart, I went to Phoenix for work where I took a very long drive to dinner with Chef Gwen, who, after diverting me with tales of the professional baseball player she dated in her youth, broke it to me as gently as she could: corn would never emulsify in a hand blender. Something about its chemical make up and how it does not break down. I would have to involve a food processor.

So I started from scratch, and this time threw my warm corn mush into the Cuisinart, and roughly 20 seconds later it was a golden creamy gruel of pleasure. I cooked it down with a few cups of buttermilk as told, and topped it with the crème fraiche. Happy was my night, and it was all over in less than an hour. One tip – this only made enough for two bowls in this household. So double it. Because you’ll want more.

Buttermilk Corn Soup with Curry and Mint

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 cups yellow corn kernels
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1 teaspoon fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot curry
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Creme fraiche


1. In a heavy saucepan sauté shallot in butter until translucent (approximately 5-7 minutes. Add corn and mix to coat corn with shallots and butter. Add vegetable stock and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add dried mint, curry, coriander and cumin. Let simmer to allow flavors to marry.

2. Blend using an immersion wand.

3. Add buttermilk, fresh mint and salt & pepper to taste. Cook down for about 30 minutes on low heat.

4. Garnish with a dollop of crème fraiche and serve.

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Genie February 18, 2013
This looks interesting but I don't like buttermilk (or at least I didn't last time I tried it half a lifetime ago) but I do like things like buttermilk pancakes, so buttermilk isn't all evil or anything. LOL. Thinking I may try it.
mtrelaun March 16, 2010
I made this last night, and it was great! It is most definitely a main course for 2 recipe. Going the extra mile with a Chinois post-Cuisinart whirring, as Chef Gwen suggested, would yield the smoothest purée.
Jestei March 16, 2010
I am very excited that people are trying, and enjoying this recipe. For the record, I don't think you need this soup to be super super smooth. A little texture builds charachter.
JenniferF March 15, 2010
This looks great. As soon as I polish off this pot of mushroom barley... mmmm, love soups.
Chef G. March 15, 2010
The flavors in this soup sound intriguing. Must give it a try. At the end of the day, the only way to ensure an ultra-smooth soup is to strain it through a chinois. But I like the rustic texture of soups partially pureed. Thanks for another second look at the treasures within Food52. Write more, please.
amysarah March 15, 2010
Definitely trying this soup - features three of my favorite recipe heroes: frozen corn - always have bags of it, and frozen peas, handy; shallots - recipe magic; and buttermilk. Love the stuff - as useful for soup as baking. I keep meaning to post my recipe for a cold beet 'borscht' that's not only crazy tasty (for the addition of a couple of unusual ingredients,) but also lower fat for the use of buttermilk instead of sour cream. Anyway, your recipe sounds right up my soup alley.
aeisenhowerturnbull March 15, 2010
Great recipe! I wasn't aware of the corn pureeing issue, I always thought it was like any other vegetable. Thanks for the recipe :)