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July 19, 2010

Recipe for cream of corn soup with basil oil

Cream of corn soup with basil oil 

From Soup's On: Soul-Satisfying Recipes from Your Favorite Cookbook Authors and Chefs, you chose this cream of corn soup with basil oil, from Linda Carucci. I've been looking forward to trying this recipe because, just between you and me, I'm a bit of a snob about corn and basil. My mother taught me to buy corn only from farm stands and to eat it on the day it is picked, and I still do that. And basil? Since I've started growing my own, I have to have garden-fresh basil. But, as things happen, the universe conspired against me on the day I planned to make this soup: I couldn't get to the farm, and the rabbits left not one single leaf of basil in the garden. Luckily I had some frozen organic corn, and I picked basil off a potted plant, though I would have borrowed from a neighbor if I didn't have enough. And voila! The soup was delicious, proving that a good recipe holds up no matter what you do to it. The soup was sweet and vibrant, and the bright green drizzle of basil oil added balance that kept the soup from being too, well... corny.

Cream of corn soup with basil oil

Adapted very slightly from Soup's On! Serves 4-6.


3 cups firmly packed very fresh basil leaves
1-1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, cut into 1/4-inch rounds, swished clean in a bowl of warm water, and drained
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I used homemade chicken stock)
5 cups corn kernels (from 5 large ears of corn or two 16-oz bags of frozen kernel corn), divided
3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp kosher salt 
A few shakes of Tabasco
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp granulated sugar (optional; I omitted it)


First, make the basil oil: Put the basil leaves in a blender with the olive oil and process to a smooth puree. Pour the mixture into a saucepan over medium heat. Once it comes to a simmer, let it cook for no more than 45 seconds. Pour into a chinois or fine-mesh sieve over a clean bowl. Give the oil time to drain; don't try and push it through the sieve. If you'd like, strain the oil again through a paper coffee filter. [Store the basil oil in an airtight jar, away from direct sunlight.]

Make the soup: Melt the butter in a heavy 4-quart pot over medium-high heat. When hot enough to sizzle a piece of leek, add the leeks and saute until they become translucent but not brown, 6-8 minutes. Add the stock, 4 cups of the corn kernels, the thyme, 1 tsp salt, and the Tabasco. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the corn is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove any thyme stems and discard.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup, or process in a stand blender in 2 batches until creamy and smooth. Add the cream and reserved 1 cup corn kernels, and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Taste and add more salt and the sugar, if necessary, to brighten the flavor of the soup. If you'd like the corn kernels to remain crunchy (I did), serve as is. Otherwise continue simmering the soup until the corn reaches the desired texture, another 5 minutes or so.

Ladle the soup into bowls and drizzle with the basil oil. Cool any remaining soup to room temperature before storing; cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Print recipe only.


Posted by: Meeta | July 20, 2010 at 03:31 AM

cream of corn and chicken is one of my all time faves soups. i need to see if i can get my hands on basil oil here! lovely idea!

Posted by: CJ McD | July 22, 2010 at 08:37 PM

I discovered the joys of basil and corn together several years ago. Summer perfection. Your soup recipe looks fantastic. It is on my must try list for the weekend.

Posted by: Judy | July 27, 2010 at 10:52 PM

Thanks, Lydia! I made this last night and it is SO delicious! Creamy, sweet, but with depth -and the basil oil adds a fresh green counterpoint - not to mention being beautiful! The most time-consuming part was cutting the corn off the cobs - I am not skilled at this (yet)!

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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