It’s a bumper year in the vegetable garden — I’m up to here in surplus tomatoes, beans, okra, chard, and zucchini. So it must have been the unseasonably cool weather last week that made me lose my head and buy a cartload of corn to preserve before winter sets in. Corn freezes well, and its summery taste can really lift your spirits on a dreary January day. It’s easy to freeze, too: Remove the husks and silk, blanch the ears for a couple of minutes, then plunge them into ice water. Once they’re cool, use a sharp knife to cut off the kernels, and spread them onto baking sheets to freeze individually before bagging them in portion sizes. Done!
That’s the theory. As so often happens, life intervened, along with all the beans, tomatoes, okra, etc. that couldn’t wait one more minute to be canned or frozen. So I only got a few of the ears dealt with before the whole preserving frenzy brought me to my knees.I kept the corn in the fridge to slow down the conversion of sugar to starch that takes it inexorably from sweet and delicious to cow fodder. By day three, it was too late to freeze it. We have no cows. What to do?
One solution: Charred corn and zucchini, a side dish with the benefit of making a little dent in the zucchini pile, too. And the last ears went into a big batch of corn soup, which also freezes well, by the way. Both dishes are no doubt even better if the corn’s truly fresh, but we hardly noticed.
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 cups corn kernels
1 small zucchini, halved and sliced thin (about a cup)
¼ cup red onion, diced
Pinch of sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. When it’s shimmering, add the corn, zucchini, onion, and salt.
Stir to combine, then cook, stirring once or twice to prevent scorching, until the corn is caramelized, about 4 minutes.
Stir in the basil and serve.
4 Tbs unsalted butter
2 medium shallots, chopped
6 cups unsalted chicken broth
6 ears corn
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
Finely chopped basil or thyme (optional)
Remove the husks and silk from the corn. Reserve one ear of corn; cut the kernels off the other five, then break the cobs in half.
Melt the butter in a large pot over moderate heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, 7 or 8 minutes, until they’re translucent.
Add the chicken stock, corn kernels, cobs, remaining ear of corn, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
Remove the whole ear of corn and set aside. Cook the soup for another 10 minutes, then remove the cobs and discard them.
Let the soup cool a little. Then, working in batches, puree it in a blender until it’s creamy. You can add a little more stock or water if it’s too thick. Put the soup back in the pot.
Cut the kernels off of the remaining cob, and stir them into the soup. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with finely chopped herbs.