Not that kind of naked. Naked as in camera-only. No multiple lights, no radio controls, not even a tripod. It has been a very long month–the PanMass Challenge, loved ones off to parts known and unknown–and during our single day of work in a week of vacation the last thing I wanted to do was set up lights and softboxes in our little vacation kitchen to make it look and feel transformed. Sometimes all you can do is just let things be. We had
barely enough plenty of light coming though the windows and I thought why not dance on the edge a little? Back to basics: camera – light – food. This is a Chilled Corn and Peach Soup photographed au naturel.
Is there any unit of time shorter than the period when perfect corn, peaches and tomatoes sit next to one another? Corn and tomatoes have been a couple for eons. Does corn never yearn for a different kind of juiciness? Why not a chilled soup? Why not a corn and peach pie? How about a corn, peach and basil ice cream? Jody tells the story of how we envisioned them getting together – in a chilled sweet-tart soup actually worth eating. I’ll only add: Expect a roasted peach and corn tart to show up some day.
Oddly, for the rest of our time on the Cape I kept driving by the farm stand where we bought everything to get a picture and somehow never timed my visits with their erratic opening hours. After my third failure I half expected to discover it had vanished, leaving only a local legend about how vacationers unlucky enough to arrive at the Cape Cod village of Barnstable in the middle of a late night thunderstorm are often surprised to find a cute little farm stand open and braving the elements. What peaches! What corn! When they try to return the next morning the stand’s gone. “Hasn’t been a stand since that storm in August of 1923,” a local on the bench in front of the courthouse tells them.
If you have the choice of old school peaches (yellow, drippy, sweet-tart) use those over sweeter hybrid parvenues. The acid in the old-school varieties is a better match for the corn, much of which these days is already super sweet. If you really want to sex things up – dribble a little impromptu pesto (light on the cheese, please) for an extra splash of color and flavor. Too much of a transient delicacy is never enough: I ate cold corn and peach pie for breakfast the rest of the week, and was happy to do so. Enjoy. Ken
NOTE: THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! Supporters of Team Rialto-TRADE donated $130,000 for this year’s PanMass Challenge ride, a stunning finish that carried us past the $500,000 mark for the team’s lifetime. Please know that every single dollar we collected goes to financing research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
The hard-ass reality-tv look.
How everyone really feels.
Chilled Corn, Peach and Basil Soup
- 6 ears corn, husked
- 1 small onion, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
- 1 cup basil leaves, stems reserved + a handful of small basil leaves for garnish.
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 ripe peaches
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium leek, white part only, trimmed of roots and tough outer leaves, thinly sliced crosswise, and swirled vigorously in a bowl of cold water to remove any grit.
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3 jalapeños, seeds removed and chopped
- 6 yellow, red or orange cherry tomatoes, cut into 6ths
- 2 tablespoons chopped toasted almonds
- Use a sharp knife to strip the corn kernels from the cobs. Set the kernels aside reserving a quarter-cup of kernels for the garnish. Whack each cob into 3 or 4 pieces.
- Put the cobs into a pot, along with the sliced onions and reserved basil stems. Add enough water to barely cover. (If you use too much water, the stock will taste thin.) Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 35 minutes.
- When the broth is done, discard the cobs and stems. You should have about 3 cups of broth.
- While the broth is cooking, rinse the peaches and make a shallow cross through the skin on the bottom. Drop a peach into the broth, count to 10 and then remove the peach to a plate to cool. Repeat with the other two. Don’t leave them in more than 10 seconds or you will cook the flesh of the peach. As soon as you can pick it up, peel it. If the skin is stubborn don’t drop it back in the water – just use a vegetable peeler. Repeat with the remaining two peaches.
- Cut the peaches in half and remove the pits. Cut two the halves into ¼-inch slices and then into narrow wedges and toss with 1 teaspoon lemon juice. This will be used for garnish. Chop the remaining two peaches into 2-inch pieces.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and shallot, cover, and cook until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the corn kernels (NOT the garnish), season with salt and pepper and cook until they just start to soften, about 2 minutes.
- Add the garlic, and the jalapeños to the pan. Cook 3 minutes. Stir in the basil, lemon zest and remaining olive oil.
- Put half the corn mixture into the blender with half the large peach pieces. Add half the broth. Puree until smooth. Repeat with the remaining corn and broth. Strain if you want it super smooth. (We didn’t bother – we like texture.)
- Chill for at least 3 hours. It will chill faster in a shallow dish. Taste and adjust seasonings by adding lemon juice and salt as needed.
- Serve sprinkled with corn kernels, basil leaves, peaches, tomatoes and almonds.
On the last stretch of 6A on our way for a week at the Offshoot, the little cottage my family rents every year in Barnstable, on Cape Cod, we passed a new organic farm stand and stopped to see what they had. Corn, peaches, basil, onions, jalapeños. Ken said, “Lets turn these into a cold soup,”–it was 85 degrees and dripping with humidity. It sounded like a good idea. As we were pulling up the driveway to the cottage 20 minutes later, he had a new idea, “Or we could do a roasted peach and corn tart with some kind of basil cream.”
That seemed less appealing considering the weather. But, always up for a challenge, and being a good sport, I tried both, using our Barnstable friends who came for dinner that night as guinea pigs. The enthusiasm for the soup trumped that for the pie, but we’re not killing the idea yet. You may see a version of the dessert in the next post.
The sweet-acidic balance in this soup is dependent on the sugar and acid of the corn and peaches. If the corn is super fresh and sweet, you may need to use more lemon juice than if you start with corn that is a little starchier. And if the peaches are tart, you may need less lemon juice. You’ll just have to taste everything and season accordingly.
The almonds are an add-0n–I was thinking of this soup as a New England gazpacho and in my mind peach pits and almonds are cousins. The flavors are similar. We don’t tend to use the pits of stone fruit, but many people do. Check out this article in the New York Times from 2000.
I wish my pictures were half as good on a good day as yours are on holiday. Looks luscious. (Erm – have you been watching Brigadoon in your holiday home?) L ;)
Haha! I was referencing a particular example of America “haunted highway” lore. A guy picks up a hitchhiker on a rainy night. She’s wet and he offers her his coat. He then offers to drive her home, but when he arrives at the address she vanishes. Since she still has his coat he gets out of the car and knocks on the door, where an elderly lady explains that he had just met her daughter–killed while hitchhiking years before. Still incredulous, the man asks where she’s buried. The next day he visits the cemetery and finds her grave, with his jacket draper over the shoulders of her tombstone. Mwahahahaha…. (Glad you like the pictures – I was pleasantly surprised.) Ken
I’m a sucker for ghost stories, you’re giving me goose bumps.
The pictures came out great and I am salivating over that cold, luscious soup. Of course a “back-door cold front” just came in over Gloucester, so maybe not today, but the heat and humidity are supposed to be back tomorrow and for the foreseeable future, so this recipe will be tried soon for sure. Wish it was nicer out for the first day of the 31st Annual Schooner Festival, but still plenty to do and see despite the cool weather. Enjoy the rest of your vacation on the “other” Cape!!
Thanks, Jennifer. Temperature notwithstanding, I wish I were up in your neck of the woods to enjoy the Schooner Festival. I’d eat chowder today and corn and peach soup tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by. Ken
It looks truly wonderful and it sure sounds delicious!
Warm greetings to you both with a cooling breeze from the Bavarian Alps,
Hoho! The Alps! I think I’m overdue for a return visit. There wasn’t much I didn’t like about them while I was student in Switzerland. I never did anything more than some of the tamer hikes, but the experience was incredible. Thanks for saying hello. Ken
There’re lots of mountains in the south of Germany too and it’s a truly great feeling arriving at the top, I agree. :-)
Wishing you a lovely weekend, Jody & Ken,
wow… looks great!!! I want to taste it…
Thanks. It’s pretty easy if you can get the ingredients. Good luck. Ken
I love that people after having eaten this wonderful soup will get their colour back! :-)
Haha! They did regain their color. The first photo was right after people were still staggering in from the first day of the ride (and I was setting up the lighting); the second was taken after everyone had time for a drink. Thanks. Ken
I love your pictures – and certainly – your recipes ♥ Birgit from the North of Germany
Hi, Birgit–You’re too nice! It helps when you have delicious food to photograph. Ken
Hi Jody, Ken,
I know exactly how you guys feel. I have my Paris2Nice cycle in two weeks time. It has been a huge month in work with a number of taxing projects on the go. I also have been taking on some preparatory cycling challenges that 6 months ago would have been unthinkable. I would stick with the first of the cycling photos. There is no point in letting people know we are really doing it for fun! The recipe and photos are lovely, as always. Keep at it.
One side note. Ken’s street photography that I see over on FB is very special. I know how difficult it is to get out of yourself to shoot complete strangers. Great work.
Conor–You’re turning into a cycling beast! (If you didn’t already think of yourself that way.) My hat is definitely off to you regarding the Paris2Nice–it takes a special sort of dedicated cyclist (More pain!) to even attempt that ride. Thanks for the kind words about the photography. Shooting street work is so different than food, even the kinds of food pictures in this post. It’s just you, what you see and how fast you can react. It’s also a great confidence builder. Of course after you finish the P2N the only thing left for you will be Lyon over-the-Alps to Geneva. Ken
Some of the guys are off on Biaritz to Brava. Others are on the Rome to Nice in a couple of weeks. There will be no shortage of opportunities to prompt a divorce!
Rome to Nice! How great would that be! The opportunities for pesto alone boggle the mind. Ken
With the temps predicted to hit the mid-90’s this week, your cold soup will be just the thing! Here in Harvard, MA we have fabulous local peaches – and plenty of farmstands with luscious corn. Our own garden will provide the basil. Can’t wait!
Hi, Jon–About 15 years ago I have up eating American peaches, mainly because I was so dismayed that they seemed to be receiving the “tomato treatment,” i.e. they don’t ship well (too soft) so let’s firm ’em up (and increase the sugar content while we’re at it). A vendor from Harvard changed my mind–her peaches were smaller, but they ripened after a few days in a paper bag and we’re wonderfully sweat, with that grace note of tartness that I remembered the sloppy peaches of my youth used to have. I’m,sure your version of the soup will be great. Thanks for.commenting. Ken
Hi there. I don’t cook but ever since I have started blogging I look out for simple recipes that I can try. This one looks perfect! And it’s going to be my first. My mum’s a Jain, so I am going to wait till she heads for her monthly visit out of town to actually sneak in the ingredients and cook this one up! :)
Thanks. Glad you found us. Just out of curiosity, what is in this recipe that would transgress your mother’s religion? It’s vegetarian, so… Ken
Actually, over the last 15 odd years my mom doesn’t get in root veggies in the house, since Jainism doesn’t support the eating of any vegetable that encourage bacterial growth. I don’t believe in that outlook. So to avoid any mess of hurting my mum’s ultra religious feelings, I have to sneak normal veggies which otherwise wouldn’t be allowed in the house.
I didn’t know that about Jainism and root vegetables (not that I knew much about Jainism at all, except for the clichéd photographs of Jains wearing masks). How interesting. Thanks for replying. Ken
Haha. You got me there with ‘Shooting naked!’ Photos look stunning as usual. I have a sick husband at home, creamy corn soup might be just what he needs. Would it make a big difference if I don’t chill the soup for 3 hours? Maybe serve it just a little cooler than the room temperature?
The soup will be fine. You might have to add an extra squeeze of lemon (like with white wine, perception of sugar goes up and acidity goes down as temperature rises) but otherwise it should be fine. Good luck. Ken
Hi Jodi and Ken , Lorrie here (Jenna’s mom)
Yesterday I made the cold corn soup you posted for our Labor Day cookout. I should have gone with the extra lemon as the corn was super sweet but it was a delicious soup nonetheless. Our guests loved it! Thanks for the idea.
Hi, Lorrie–I’m happy you liked it. Save some for Jenna’s next visit. Ken
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Love the picture in the kitchen with the fistful of corn nubs. Lovely light. Amazing idea for a soup that sounds almost Roald Dahl like to me in its strange luxurious oddness. You do it so well. Sophie x
Sophie–I’ve missed your voice! I’ve been so busy–I just finished culling through 4000+ pictures of Greece and Istanbul I took for a for a client–that I haven’t had the luxury of swimming through so many of the blogs I love. This IS a strange combination, but appealing nonetheless (like Roald Dahl, right?). The biggest challenge is getting the sweet-tart balance right when both peaches and corn taste like they’ve been caught in the gravitational death grip of a black hole of sugar, accelerating yearly to ever greater levels of sweetness. Still. Worth the effort. By the way, you’ve identified my favorite shot in the post (followed by the team photos). Thanks for speaking up. Ken
Wow, this is quite different. I have never tried anything like this before nor heard of anything similar. If I may be honest, I am not a big fruit+savory person…except for a few dishes. However, the fact that it’s you guys who posted it, means I will try it out one day! So far, I haven’t tried a dish I didn’t enjoy off your blog! Thanks for sharing :)
Hi, Lana–I’m with you on fruit soups or the fruit + savory combination (I once spent a week in the hipper precincts of Miami desperately seeking local fish WITHOUT some sort of mango-pineappple-etc. relish), but this is a little unusual in that the peach is more of an accent than the dominant flavor. If you’ve got the ingredients, go for it. Thanks. Ken
What cool photos! :) Appetizing too from the soup that is! :) MMMMMMM! A must try!
Thank you. It’s a bit unfamiliar, but a great combination nevertheless. Hurry if you’ve still got some peaches. Ken
Mind blowing photography!!!
That’s sweet – glad you liked it. It’s a great soup. Ken
Klimawandel duchr Kreatives Genuss Kochen herrlich . . .
Haha! Climate change! Ich wünschte, es so einfach wäre. Danke. Ken