Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Summer Corn Soup

There was a time when I lived to shop. Nothing was better than spending a day immersed in clothing, shoes, and accessories to try on, compare, and decide what to take home. At some point, I became much lazier about shopping. Now, I’d much rather open several tabs in a web browser to compare and decide and order online. But, one thing that would make me want to shop in person is the prospect of a great lunch or dinner as part of the outing. Have you ever dined in a department store or clothing store? I have a couple of times. In both cases, the restaurants gave a feeling of providing for your every need. You can shop awhile, take a break, have a snack or a meal, and everything you could want is right there. That sense of generous hospitality was evident in the new book The Freds at Barneys New York Cookbook by Mark Strausman of which I received a review copy. The book is full of crowd-pleasing dishes from Freds, the restaurant inside Barneys, that can now be found in the Madison Avenue, Chicago, Beverly Hills, and Downtown New York stores. In creating Freds, the goal was to give visitors the feeling of being “in the midst of the bustle of life” and in the “warm, inviting center of that particular universe.” The food is intentionally uncomplicated and comforting with salads, sandwiches, and soups that happen to be fashionably presented to suit the surroundings. There are also Italian classics, brunch dishes, dinner entrees, and desserts. Everything is carefully prepared despite the volume of food that’s served each day in these restaurants. And, all of the recipes from the Belgian fries to the stocks and sauces are included here. I think I would have a hard choosing from the menu. From the salads alone, I would be hard-pressed to choose among The Palace Warm Lobster Salad with Freds Bistro Dressing, the Beverly Hills Asian Chicken Salad, and the Vegan Salad with Salsa Verde Vinaigrette. Then, with multiple variations on club sandwiches and the turkey sandwich topped with Russian dressing and slaw on an onion roll, I couldn’t decide. Or, should I order the crab cakes, Grilled Hen of the Woods Mushrooms in a Balsamic Glaze with Arugula and Shave Parmesan, or the Upper East Side Filet of Sole with Sauteed Carrots? The same issue would happen with the soups. There’s New Jersey Summer Heirloom Tomato Soup, Lobster Bisque with Saffron Aioli, and Freds Gazpacho. I had some fresh corn from my CSA, and that made my decision for what to cook first from the book much easier than ordering from the menu would be. Summer corn soup with local corn, potatoes, and onion was a great choice. 

You could keep this soup completely vegan by using vegetable stock and olive oil and skipping the butter and cream. I did use homemade vegetable stock and olive oil, and shucked corn on the cob was cooked in it until tender. The corn was removed and left to cool, and chopped potatoes, onions, and celery were added to the stock. The corn kernels were cut from the cobs, and the cobs went into the stock to add more corn flavor while the other vegetables simmered. After about 35 minutes, the corn cobs were removed, and the corn kernels were added to the soup. The soup was then blended in batches to make a smooth puree. The puree was returned to the stockpot, and here cream or milk or almond milk can be added. I had some creme fraiche on hand and used that. The pureed soup was heated through with the creme fraiche mixed in, and salt and pepper were added to taste. 

In the Soups chapter, there’s a mention of garnishes and how they add an important “little something” with flavor and texture. I went a little crazy with the garnish here and used some roasted cubes of pattypan squash, chopped fresh tomato, a few corn kernels I set aside, and ribbons of fresh basil. If possible, the garnishes made the soup even more summery. The corn flavor was like a bowl of sunshine as it was. Now, when I shop in a web browser, I can whip up something from this book and still enjoy the mix of shopping and great food. 

Summer Corn Soup 
Recipe reprinted with publisher’s permission from The Freds at Barneys New York Cookbook

This creamy soup is a recent and very popular addition to the Freds menu. It can easily be adapted to be vegan without losing the creaminess that makes it so satisfying. Chef’s tip: Freeze some of the water when you cook corn and use it in the stock for this soup. 

Serves 4 

2 quarts Vegetable Stock or Chicken Stock 
5 tablespoons unsalted butter (can substitute olive oil) 
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt 
6 ears fresh summer corn, husked and cut in half 
2 small potatoes, peeled and diced 
2 yellow onions, diced 
2 stalks celery, diced 
1 large leek, white part only, trimmed, well-washed, and diced 
1⁄2 cup heavy cream or 1 cup whole milk (can substitute 1 cup almond milk) 
Freshly ground black pepper 

Place the stock, butter, and salt in a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Add the corn and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the corn from the stock, set aside to cool, then use a sharp knife to shave the kernels off the cobs. Set the kernels aside, but do not discard the cobs. Return the pot with the broth to medium-high heat. 

Add the corn cobs, potatoes, onions, celery, leek, and cream. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently until the potatoes are soft, 35 to 45 minutes. Fish out the cobs and discard. Add the corn kernels to the soup. Using a food processor, blender, or immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. (Depending on the size of your machine, you may need to do this in several batches.) Be especially careful as you do this because the soup is very hot. 

If the soup is too thick, add additional stock and heat thoroughly. Adjust seasoning and serve.

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  1. Sounds like a great soup! And although I don't like shopping, I'd certainly visit a department store so I could eat this at their restaurant. :-)

  2. I would love some too! Very creamy and delicious.

  3. my husband won't eat corn, but i love it! i think your soup is summer perfection.

  4. Funny, I realize there are restaurants in big malls, but I've never tied the shopping with the eating...

    I happened to eat at a mall usually while traveling... interesting to join the two activities.

    But, more to the point, this is a drool-inducing soup!

  5. I am the same way about shopping. I used to love just hanging out at the mall with my gal pals. Now, I'd much rather stay home and get it all delivered. LOL But I will definitely make the effort to go to the farmers market to get fresh corn in summer. THAT is so worth it!


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