I don't really know what to call this soup, so the name above seems as good as any. I was originally planning to make some kind of sweet corn vichyssoise when it occurred to me that a bit of cucumber might go well with it. This got me thinking about gazpacho and the way it uses crusty bread soaked in vinegar. Why not try something similar to that with toasted corn tortillas? So the process for making the soup ends up borrowing from both vichyssoise and gazpacho, while many of the ingredients are Latin American. Whatever you want to call it, the result is smooth, refreshing, sweet, tangy and surprisingly piquant all at once! —jeffreyolsen
ears of corn, shucked with cobs reserved
yellow onions, roughly chopped
cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
dried chipotle peppers, stems and seeds removed, rehydrated and roughly chopped (if you don't like spice, only use 1!)
1 1/4 cups
finely diced cucumber
finely diced purple basil (green basil is just as good, I just happened to use purple because I had some around)
corn nuts, pulsed to large crumbs (optional; I don't think they're necessary, but they could be a good addition if you prefer a bit more texture)
Cover the cobs with water in a large saucepan, bring to a boil, cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer gently for one hour.
Make the corn tortillas. Mix together the masa harina, salt and water in a bowl. If the dough seems too dry, add more water one tablespoon at a time. Set a dry skillet over high heat, line both sides of a tortilla press with plastic and break the dough into four golfball-sized pieces. One at a time, press each ball into a thin disc and cook on the skillet about a minute per side or until toasted and a little bit charred, while covering bowl with a wet dish towel to keep remaining balls of dough from drying out. If you don't have a tortilla press, you could roll them out with a rolling pin between two sheets of plastic and if you just don't feel like being bothered with this, use store-bought tortillas, but be sure to toast them in a dry skillet. They'll work just as well; it's just that in my case I thought of using tortillas after I was already home and had the water boiling, so it was quicker and easier to make them than run out and buy them.
Arrange remaining mise-en-place while cobs simmer. Chop onions, garlic, hydrate chipotle peppers, etc. Juice lime and purée cucumber. Strain purée to extract liquid and mix with lime juice.
Tear tortillas into small pieces. Soak in cucumber lime juice for five minutes. Process in a food processor until you have a smooth paste.
After an hour, remove cobs from simmering water and reserve four cups of remaining "corn stock."
Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add onions and sweat for about four minutes. Add salt, pepper, garlic and chipotle peppers. After another minute or two, add cumin and corn kernels. Pour in four cups of corn stock and bring to a boil. Cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer gently for half an hour.
After half an hour, add pinch of cayenne and tortilla, cucumber, lime paste. Turn off flame and stir mixture together.
Purée mixture in batches, straining into a bowl. By the time you're finished, it will have cooled considerably. Whisk in one cup of cold sour cream and place in refrigerator to continue cooling.
Once fully chilled, adjust seasoning if necessary and divide between four soup bowls. Place a dollop of sour cream in the center of each bowl, sprinkle with diced cucumber, basil and corn nut crumbs if using. Garnish with a purple basil flower if you're feeling sassy.