Make Ahead

Cold Corn Soup with Basil-Chili Oil

August 21, 2009
1 Ratings
  • Serves 8 as a starter
Author Notes

This is a fresh summer soup, flecked with bacon and whole kernels of sweet corn. The recipe makes use of the scraped corn cobs by simmering them in water to make a light broth, which is then used in the soup in place of chicken broth. I find this extra step really amps up the corn flavor. The basil-chili oil adds a peppy splash of green. —Merrill Stubbs

What You'll Need
  • 6 large ears corn
  • 2 slices bacon, diced
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 pinch red chili flakes
  1. Using a sharp knife, cut the corn kernels from the cobs and set aside. (You should have about 6 cups of corn kernels.) Put the corn cobs in a large saucepan and cover them with 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.
  2. In a large pot, cook the bacon over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until it has rendered most of its fat and is crispy. Add the onion, a large pinch of salt and pepper to taste and cook until the onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the corn kernels, stir through and cook for another minute.
  3. Carefully strain the corn cob cooking liquid through a fine mesh sieve and add 6 cups to the corn mixture, reserving the rest. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes so that the flavors have a chance to meld. (Do not overcook -- the kernels should still have a bit of a bite.)
  4. Meanwhile, to make the basil-chili oil, blanch the basil leaves in boiling water for about 30 seconds, drain and plunge into a bowl of ice water. (This is a bit of a pain, but if you don't do it, your "basil-chili oil" will end up looking like gray sludge.) Remove and dry thoroughly. Combine the basil leaves, olive oil, a sprinkling of salt and the chili flakes in a blender and purée until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and set aside until ready to use it will be better after an hour or two.
  5. Starting with a clean blender and working in small batches so you don't burn yourself, purée about 3/4 of the corn soup until smooth. Combine with the remaining soup, taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Transfer the soup to a large bowl and refrigerate until icy cold (you may also eat it hot if you prefer). Serve the soup in individual bowls with a generous drizzle of the basil chili-oil.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Mary
  • Joyce weatherly
    Joyce weatherly
  • Heidi Yorkshire
    Heidi Yorkshire
  • bsessler

4 Reviews

Mary September 2, 2018
Great summer soup. The color of the soup wasn't the most beautiful- but the color of the basil oil was! Next time I'll use more chili flakes and maybe leave some bacon out for garnish.
Joyce W. August 1, 2016
Very delicious, the oil is a wonderful addition. A good basic recipe that i will enjoy makiNg some variations, like with chipotle chilis /adobo.
Heidi Y. July 22, 2016
This is a lousy recipe. 1) How do you serve a soup "icy cold" when it has several tablespoons of bacon fat in it? 2) How do you get crispy bacon bits when they have been stewed for 20 minutes with the corn and broth, and then pureed in the blender? 3) And it turns out a sad grey color. I wish I had been thinking more clearly before I spent money and, more important, time and good ingredients on this ill-considered formula.
bsessler June 20, 2016
This soup looks wonderful! However, I am vegetarian. Do you think the recipe would still work without the bacon seeing as the chili oil will add flavor?