Poor corn. It's been pimped out to animal feed and fructose companies, making it top the most-wanted list of dietary no-nos. But real corn -- and by "real" I mean those delightful yellow and white cobs that come in green husks and not the mass-produced grain in monoculture fields -- is a summer treat.
Corn is at its best roasted on the grill where that direct intense heat makes the kernels sweeter. After eating our fill of grilled corn a few weeks ago, however, I wanted to try something a little different. Soup. Yes, I know. Soup is not a summer standard. But we live in the Bay Area, where hot days are followed by cool, foggy ones, so soup is an every-season dish as far as I'm concerned.
Corn chowder is a favorite of mine. In the past, I have always just cooked the corn on the stove to make soup, but this time I wondered how everything would turn out if I roasted it first. I had to give it a try. Now keep in mind that this is a simple recipe. Unlike other corn chowders, which are usually made in the winter, this soup doesn't include root vegetables, like potatoes, or spices. Corn is now in season so I really wanted it to be the star and adding other ingredients meant it would have to share the stage. I therefore settled on just corn, bacon and onion along with stock and milk. The result was lovely: just-picked corn sweetness caramelized on the grill with a salty bacon accent. You could easily serve the soup just like this, but because I am growing parsley in my backyard, I decided to top everything off with an herb pistou to round out the flavors.
What, you may ask, is a pistou? It's just a fancy name for herbs blended with olive oil and seasonings. I often make a parsley pistou for my lentil soup, so whipped one up for the chowder. The result was more than I had hoped for. Like lime with jalapeno, or coffee with chocolate, the pistou heightened the corn's natural essence and elevated the flavor to a new level.