Creamy corn soup with charred jalapeño, avocado and peptia salsa

Refreshing, creamy, sweet and slightly spicy, this summer corn soup is packed with protein and nutrients from a delicious bone broth base, an array of fresh herbs (looking at you, tarragon), and some of the season’s best veggies. Versatile and filling, it can be served hot or chilled, alongside a main or as a light meal all on its own.

 Spring naan flatbread

Summer soups are having a moment in my kitchen right now. Here's why.

For starters, there's no reason to get a hot oven involved. The possibilities for flavor combinations are endless. You can use all the things that are good for you in a way that’s endlessly more exciting than salad. It be eaten hot or cold (depending on your mood). And best of all, there are always leftovers. 

As you can see, the reasons are simple, as are the recipes. 

This corn summer soup was inspired by one of my favorite seasonal dishes at Delfina — a Brentwood corn soup with basil and creme fraiche. In culinary school, we learned how this San Francisco restaurant makes it so magically delicious with a flavor that’s so much more — how do I put it? — cornier than the corn itself. It’s like taking the best sweet corn you’ve ever tasted and amplifying that flavor by multiple factors.

The trick — making a corn-infused stock with shucked corn cobs that the corn kernels are later cook in. It’s an extra step, but well worth it if you have the time. Of course, you can skip it if you’re short on time and are using a flavorful broth as your liquid base. However, I think it’s critical to getting that corn-on-corn action.

I used an organic chicken bone broth from Kettle & Fire (hands-down, the best tasting broth on grocery shelves right now) as the base for this one. I almost always use some sort of bone broth for my soup bases, since it makes the flavor so much richer with little effort and adds much-needed protein and nutrients (as well as collagen-boosting properties to help my post-kid-not-so-youthful-skin).

The salsa adds a bit of texture from the toasted pepitas and charred corn, as well as a little smokiness and kick from the jalapeño to balance out the sweetness of the corn. With all the varying shades of green and yellow, this summer soup was a beauty to prepare and truly a treat to eat.

As always, I’d love to hear your comments or suggestions on how this recipe turns out for you. And if you make it and shoot it, tag it on Instagram. I’d love to see your take!

 Spring naan flatbread
 Spring naan flatbread

COOKING NOTES

While this soup can be served hot or cold, I think it’s best when hot. If you prefer to serve it cold, make sure you add extra salt to get the right amount of flavor. If you want to make this an under 30-minute recipe, you can choose to skip the step of infusing the broth with the shucked corn cobs. And when making the salsa, use a broiler if you don’t have a gas burner or are uncomfortable charring things over the stovetop.  

MAKES ABOUT 4 CUPS

INGREDIENTS

5 ears super sweet yellow corn
3 cups chicken bone broth
2 sprigs fresh tarragon
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 lemon, tested
Kosher salt
2 small jalapeno peppers
1 avocado, diced into small cubes
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Shuck all but one of the corn cobs and reserve the kernals. In a medium sauce pot over high heat, add the shucked corn cobs, 1 sprig of the tarragon and 2 of the garlic cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let cook for about 20 minutes to infuse the broth.
  2. Meanwhile, in another medium sauce pot over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the leek, remaining tarragon leaves, remaining garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook until the leeks is translucent and super soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the shucked corn and another pinch of salt, and continue to cook until the corn softens, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Carefully strain the corn broth directly into the sauce pot with the leeks and corn kernels. Discard the corn cobs and other solid broth ingredients. (You can also do this over the sink into a bowl if it proves too difficult to do it over the stove). Bring to a simmer and cook until the corn is completely soft, about 10 more minutes.
  4. Add the lemon zest to the soup. Season with salt to taste and remove from the heat. Let cool while you prepare the salsa.
  5. Place the jalapeños over an open burner and cook, turning every couple of minutes using tongs, until the jalapeños are blackened on all sides. This should take about 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cool, remove the blackened skins from the jalapeños and mince the flesh, removing the seeds if you prefer it less spicy.
  6. Repeat the process with the remaining corn cob, only just char it slightly — don’t completely blacken it, 2 to 4 minutes. Let cool slightly, then shuck it.
  7. In a medium bowl, add the jalapeño, corn kernels, avocado, cilantro and half of the lemon juice. Add salt to taste. Gently mix in half of the pepitas. Slice the remaining lemon half into quarters
  8. Serve the soup in bowls and top with the salsa. Garnish with the remaining pepita seeds and serve with the remaining lemon quarters.