Sweet Corn Velouté Soup with Quick-Pickled Tomatoes
Growing up I was obsessed with this farming RPG called Harvest Moon. I have to admit: even now, when I'm feeling most nostalgic, I'll dust off the old N64 for a good run-through on the virtual ranch. This recipe, then, came to me from two temporalities: first, from the video game that taught me early on that corn and tomatoes are ripest in the summer; second, from a delicious meal I had at New York's Gotham Bar, where I ordered a spring pea soup with morel custard (rich and creamy) and pickled ramps (fresh and acidic). What I have here is an homage to that — and to summer: a sweet corn stock thickened with roux, punctured necessarily by the brightness of fresh tomatoes. Velouté, or "velvety," it is.
1 pound mirepoix*
4 ears sweet corn (about 2 pounds),
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
4 bay leaves
1 quart vegetable stock, or water
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup heavy cream, or soy creamer
^1 cup corn kernels, reserved from the cobs
8 ounces heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
*any mix of carrot, celery, onion/shallot, and/or garlic (whatever you have on hand)
In a large Dutch oven with a touch of olive oil, sauté the mirepoix for about 10 minutes or until translucent. Add the corncobs, their kernels, herbes de Provence, bay leaves, and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the corncobs and discard.
In a blender or food processor (I use an immersion blender), puree the soup until thick and chunky; doesn't have to be perfect because the next step is to strain it into another pot or bowl. I actually just use a colander, but if you want a finer mouthfeel to your end product, then sieve it.
In the now empty Dutch oven over low heat, add the butter and flour, stirring until combined into a smooth paste. Cook for a few seconds. Slowly add the corn stock, whisking away any lumps. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer again for 5 or so minutes until the soup thickens. Stir in the cream.
In a small skillet over high heat, sauté the reserved corn kernels in some olive oil until slightly charred but still crunchy. Toss with the tomato halves, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the quick-pickled tomatoes and corn.