Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Corn Soup with Vanilla Bean, Coconut Milk, and Lobster

Photo by Rinne Allen

I recently demonstrated how to make this recipe at Grant Park Farmer's Market.

Time spent at my family's cottage on Lake Simcoe, just north of Toronto, made me keenly aware of summer vegetables. The cadence created by cucumbers, followed by yellow corn, then bi-colored corn, and finally tomatoes, defined the summer months.
            This soup is a beautiful pale yellow and has a natural sweetness that welcomes the vanilla. If lobster is not available, pair with an equally rich shellfish like shrimp or crawfish.

Serves 6
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 slice of fresh lemon
1 pound live fresh Maine lobster
2 tablespoons butter
1 leek, cleaned and finely diced
1 rib of celery, finely minced
3 cups fresh corn kernels
Bouquet garnis of fresh thyme and bay leaf (see Drawing)
1/2 fresh vanilla bean scraped (add both bean and scraped flesh)
1/2 cup russet potato, peeled and cubed to 1-inch
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 ripe tomato, diced
1 tablespoon very fruity extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh chervil or dill

Place a large pot of water (about one gallon) on the stove for cooking the lobster. Bring the water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of the kosher salt, all of the Old Bay seasoning and the lemon. When the water is at a vigorous boil, put in the lobster and cook for 6 minutes. While the lobster is cooking, prepare an ice bath by filling a bowl half with ice and half with water. Remove the lobster from the boiling water and place it in the ice bath to stop the cooking. Once chilled, clean the lobster by breaking off the tail, claws, and knuckles and carefully removing the meat from the shell. Set aside.
            In a soup pot with a lid, over medium-high, melt the butter. Add the leek and celery and cook until they are soft but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the corn, bouquet garnis, vanilla, and potato. Cook for 2 minutes over medium heat. Add the stock and cover. Continue cooking over medium heat (without boiling) for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when poked with a fork.
            Add the cream and coconut milk to the soup pot and continue cooking for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and puree carefully in a blender. Season with the sea salt.
            Chop the lobster into bite-size pieces (this lobster is a garnish and as a rule and should not be bigger than what can fit on a spoon) and place in a mixing bowl. Toss the lobster with the tomato, olive oil, and chervil. Divide the lobster equally among six soup bowls, then pour soup around it.
            Serve immediately.

Reprinted from A NEW TURN IN THE SOUTH: SOUTHERN FLAVORS REINVENTED FOR YOUR KITCHEN  by HUGH ACHESON.  Copyright © 2011 by HUGH ACHESON.  Photographs copyright © 2011 by RINNE ALLEN.  Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.”

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