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smoky and silky corn soup by food to glow

On-my-soapbox alert!

Corn is contentious. Not the sweetcorn that we eat – and the only corn crop grown in the UK – but the corn that has infiltrated our lives in some very non-food and non-nutritious ways.

In the US, where it is by far the most-grown and most renumerative crop, field corn is used in manners various and sundry: as fuel in the form of ethanol; to hold food as plastic bags, plastic spoons and forks; to fatten livestock and thicken food. Because it is less sweet, field corn is also used to make tortilla chips and cornmeal.

Its sugars are also used to sweeten food, namely the ubiquitous, liver-damaginghigh-fructose corn syrup. Plus, eighty-five per cent of field corn in the US is genetically modified, often without product labels to tell you so. Contrast that with less than five per cent for sweetcorn, but that number is increasing. Thanks a lot, Mon-flipping-santo. Although it is one of the least sprayed crops, if I still lived in the US I would be tempted to go organic with this one just to be sure it wasn’t genetically modified. This article enumerates the many ways corn is used in unexpected ways. Most are not bad, by the way. It is a useful crop in many respects.

As is the case with this soup.

smoky and silky corn soup by food to glow

But to be perfectly honest, freshly harvested corn should be eaten as corn on the cob. The juicy sweetness of just-cooked corn – the white or yellow kernels bursting in your mouth – cannot be bettered. A plate of sliced, just-picked tomatoes and boiled and buttered Silver Queen sweetcorn was just about my favourite thing to eat as a child.  I have not even tried to replicate this plate as an adult; I am certain it cannot be done here in Scotland. Not to my satisfaction anyway. Long, hot Tennessee summers spent at my grandparents spoiled me for many things, knock-out vegetables and fruits among them.

I remember my sister and I helping my grandmother pick corn on her sprawling Tennessee farm. Just for ourselves, mind you. No child labour laws were contravened. I recall walking through the rustling canyons of twice-our-height rows of ripened ears of corn – the intense humidity, the occasional brush with creepy crawlies, the eagerness to get the fat ears into a boiling pot of water.  If we were lucky it would go straight into a pot, buttered, then eaten without pause – or manners. A few kernels were always saved to shove onto our teeth to see what we would look like if we didn’t brush our teeth.sweetcorn by food to glow

If I grew corn this is what I would do: I would shuck the ears of their green, papery husks, rub away the tickly soft silks (brush the silks over a close relative and watch them squirm!) and drop them into a boiling pot of salted water for about four minutes (or barbecue as per this recipe). I would then drain then plop the ears back into the pan with a few pats of best butter or good olive oil. And, if no one was looking, I would sneak in some salt too. Not much beats freshly cooked corn on the cob.

But a close second, especially now that the weather is cooling and we are all craving a bit of soup-action, is this smoky silky corn soup. Now, you know me, I like bold flavours (it says so in my wee bio to the right), but with this soup I have kept the spicing child-friendly so as to entice them into eating loads of vegetables without them knowing. Not only is there loads of sweetcorn, but sweet potatoes, carrots, celery, tomatoes, garlic and onion, too. I often add some chilli, or hot paprika with the smoked paprika, just to warm me and my slow metabolism up a bit more. But it is really lovely without the extra fillip of heat.

And I know you don’t need convincing to eat corn, but just to remind you that this soup has bags of beta-carotene, and eye-protecting zeaxanthin and lutein. And a ridiculous amount of dietary fibre. Just don’t expect such health bonuses from HFCS-sweetened drinks.

smoky silky corn soup by food to glow

Silky, Smoky Sweetcorn Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Of course, the best way to enjoy corn is boiled and slathered in butter but, once you have had your fill, why not make this subtly spiced, veg-packed soup?

Tip: blend in a high-speed blender – like a Froothie, but other heavy-duty makes are good too – and you won’t need to sieve out the ‘bits,’ nor be tempted to add cream. High speed blending makes any soup like velvet and ever-so creamy. I give a ‘raw’ version below the main recipe.

4 corncobs, husks stripped and silks removed

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, skinned and chopped

1 tsp each cumin and coriander seeds – dry toast in a pan and grind finely

½ tsp smoked paprika

2 carrots, chopped

1 medium sweet potato, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

4 large tomatoes OR tin/jar best quality whole tomatoes (chopped ones are often bitter)

1 litre vegetable stock (I use Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon powder) OR water

Garnish suggestions: chopped parsley, coriander, chopped tomatoes, corn kernels, and/or thick yogurt.

1. Stand each corncob – I break the cobs in half to make them more stable – on a chopping board and, holding a sharp, heavy knife at the top of the cob, scrape the kernels off the cob, extracting as much ‘milk’ and pulp as possible. Fresh corn and its pulp make the soup much creamier-textured than using tinned or frozen corn. But use either of these if fresh corn isn’t available. It will still taste great.

2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a low-medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened – about five minutes – stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, spices, carrots, sweet potato and celery. Stir and cook until the vegetables start to soften. Add the tomatoes, stock and corn. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked.

3. To blend, either carefully ladle the soup into a food processor or blender and blitz until smooth, or use a hand/immersion blender. Depending on how powerful your equipment is you may need to sieve the soup to remove the corn skins. Or you could cook, blend and sieve the corn separately and add to the cooked soup.

Tip: you may want to keep back some corn kernels to add texture to the soup after blending.

Corn Soup in the Raw

As above but ditch the oil, use 8 spring onions/scallions (if large ones, use a little less) instead of the onion, and use very warm stock or water, blending in a little at a time until you get the desired consistency and taste concentration. You may want to use more or less stock/water. The heat from a high speed blender will warm and lightly ‘cook’ the vegetables.

Other corn recipes on Food to Glow:

Double Smoky Corn Fritters with Guacamole

Tomato and Skillet Corn Salad with Quinoa

Grilled Miso-Butter Corn and Tofu – a vegan bbq 

Southern Cornbread Dressing (a Thanksgiving/Christmas recipe)

Southern Cornbread (the real – Deep South – thing)

Corn Recipes from Others:

Creamy Coconut Corn Chowder – Amuse Your Bouche

Roasted Sweetcorn with Lime and Coriander Butter – Coffee and Vanilla

And More Seasonal Soups in the Blender:

Butternut Squash Soup – Franglais Kitchen

Carrot-Cumin Soup – Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Parsley Pesto – Little Miss Meatfree

Five-Minute Green Smoothie Soup – Tinned Tomatoes

Garlic Mushroom Soup – The Crafty Larder

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Ginger and Cinnamon – Food to Glow

Courgette Pea and Pesto Soup – Food to Glow

Creamy Zucchini, Walnut and Lemon Thyme Soup – Food to Glow

I’m entering this veg-tastic, seasonal soup to a few round-ups and blog challenges:

The No Croutons challenge – via Tinned Tomatoes and Food and Spice (this month’s host)

Extra Veg – via Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary (this month’s host), Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy

Simple and In Season – via Ren Behan and Franglais Kitchen (September host)



51 thoughts on “Silky, Smoky Sweetcorn Soup with Loads of Veg


    Reblogged this on VIVIMETALIUN.

  2. winwinfood says:

    Looks delicious! I’m not a big fan of celery though – would it matter too much if I left it out?

    1. Oh no, not at all I imagine. You don’t taste it as such but it does add to the overall flavour. Ditch it if you don’t like it, by all means. Let me know if you make it and how it was. Thanks 🙂

      1. winwinfood says:

        For sure, thanks for the speedy reply 🙂

      2. I’m on it today! 🙂

  3. Deena Kakaya says:

    Lovely images of you and sister picking corn as kids. My boy and I recently discovered a pick-your-own place ten mins away from us that grows corn, after years of living around here and I had no idea! I’m totally with you on succulent corn straight off the cob, nothing like it.

    I really like the idea of sweet potato in this recipe, will be trying it out x

    1. The soup is a funny colour for soothing titled sweetcorn soup but the sweet potatoes and carrots are the reason. It still tastes mainly or corn though! That’s cool that you have discovered a new place to pick up local produce. That’s one happy find 🙂

  4. Lisa says:

    Just gorgeous Kellie. Indeed, it is soup season and I’ve been enjoying it too, though I am already missing the summer temperatures. Thanks so much for submitting to NCR.

  5. Oh, that looks soooo good. Can’t wait for autumn to arrive so I can try it out! And thank you for mentioning my recipe by the way.

  6. Oh gorgeousness

  7. narf77 says:

    This soup is making me squeal on the inside (4.21am…external squealing…VERBOTEN!) I love turning things into soup. I read somewhere that men who eat soup at least once a week live on average 10 years longer than men who don’t. No life extensions for women but who cares? I could live on this stuff! Yummo! Awesome share Ms Kellie and lots of excellent info to accompany it. Bang on with flavours as well (although as there are no kids here I might sneak in some extra chilli flakes 😉 ). Cheers for your delicious inventive streak, what would I do without it? I would have to live on steamed veggies and lust! 😉

    1. Steamed veggies and lust doesn’t sound too appealing (unless the lust is directed at your Steve, in which case don’t let anyone stop you!). Make the soup in a high-speed blender thingy and ditch the fat if you are thinking of your summer wardrobe. Almost any soup can be done that way, except maybe potato! I am happy to be corrected though. Enjoy your emerging warmth. We may be hibernating soon…

      1. narf77 says:

        I just purchased fresh corn to make this yesterday. I have a Vitamix so this shouldn’t be any problem and a bit of fat is important, just not too much. I could always whiz an avocado through to add to the biota 😉 It just looks so very delicious and appealing as we are coming out of winter and the weather is starting to heat up a little bit. I am craving green things so am just about to plant a stack of them to quell my inner lust. You can build a snowman 😉 I was hoping that Scotland would have become like Australia in the referendum but it seems that you guys might just be a tiny bit too close to the auld mother country for her to release her tentacles…oh well…maybe next time…

  8. Shannon says:

    Oh my gosh. Yum. This looks divine, but then all your stuff does. Love your story-telling lead-in. And you are too right about sweet corn — best straight off the cob. I’ve even eaten it raw in the yard! The best. Home-grown memories for sure. Dirty teeth. Hehe. We used to do that too.

    Cheers, Kellie. I’m sure things are crazy in Scotland, hopefully in a good way.

    PS — Did you know that FoodToGlow is the first of WP’s recommended food blogs? Made me smile, ’cause we already know how awesome you are.

    1. Shannon, you always leave the loveliest comments. I can’t believe we only know each other through the blogosphere (loved that word). You know just the perfect thing to say and have immaculate timing. Just sitting here missing my girl and up pops your comment. Thanks so much. And no, I didn’t know about my ‘status’ as first on the WP list. I am pretty sure it is a random thing but I will take anything i can get. Cheers for letting me know. 🙂 PS yes, I have eaten raw sweetcorn and it is great – but only just-picked.

      1. Shannon says:

        Aw, well you’ve been missed too, and thanks. I’ve been more than a little bit preoccupied with a new school at home for the remaining three — that’s now four different curricula! It’s a dream come true, but with a hefty commitment for a price tag. Hence, the absence from blogging. If you’ve not been by for a while, I just “stuck” a past video of hummingbirds on our back porch. They are migrating through Texas right now — such a visual blessing for a busy life. Keep up the great posts. You should start seeing me more regularly from now on. 😀

        PS – we had only one small successful crop of corn — ate them all straight off the stalk! Then next one, raccoons found them all just days before we could enjoy. Drat.

      2. You know, I have heard that about raccoons and corn. They lay in wait and pounce just when the sugars have risen and the corn is at its ripest. Little blighters! I haven’t been over to yours in a while but will remedy that just now to see the hummingbird video. They used to hang out in my grandmother’s front garden sipping on all of her bird and bee friendly flowers. I miss that here in the UK. Best wishes with all of the schooling. I so admire you for that. What a tremendous commitment.

  9. I love the big, bold flavors in this soup!

  10. gorgeozo says:

    Looks gorgeous, and I loved the story about putting corn kernels on your teeth 🙂

  11. I LOVE the soapbox! I talk about non GMO so often, I think my friends are getting tired of hearing about it. Luckily we have lots of organic options. Love the soup recipe. Will have to tag for later when it’s a bit more fall like in California. PS: My sisters and I also did the corn on the teeth. Classic move.

    1. Must be a sister thing, the corn teeth years. 🙂 Yay about your soapboxing too. Rant-power!

  12. thespicyrd says:

    Although it is far from soup season here in hot and humid San Diego (I feel like I’m back in Florida :-), I’m pinning this one for later, as it looks divine! Glad you got on your soapbox today. My sentiments exactly!

  13. I actually didn’t know that field corn was different to sweetcorn! Thanks for telling me something new. And your recipe (as always) looks delicious! : )

    1. Thanks so much Lindsay. I knew vaguely about it but I did of course find the finer details on the Internet. Where else?

  14. cheri says:

    Hi Kellie, love this soup, sounds delicious. The corn we were buying this year from the farmers market was so good. I agree with you about the engineered corn, stay away.

  15. Estes G. says:

    This looks WONDERFUL! I make a velvety curried butternut squash soup, but this sounds perfect for September, before it gets too cold up here in the Rockies. What warming spices and healthful vegetables! Hoping I can get around to this one this weekend 🙂

    1. Oh I love butternut squash too, curried, honeyed, plain – love them all. I hope you get around to trying this as it is quite good. It is the favourite soup of one of my friends. As she is great cook and inveterate soup maker I take this as high praise. 🙂

  16. Looks lovely and comforting, just what I feel like today. You should see the corn mum has grown this year, its amazing, that lovely StA sunshine has done the trick!

    1. Lucky Mum! I have seen it on the west coast, all beautiful and blowing in the wind (not breeze. Wind). How I wish I had a sunny enough patch (and the right soil) to relieve my childhood in this small way. I hope you are having a better day now, Miss Niki. 🙂

      1. Yeah, and I didnt know how beautiful the corn leaves are – all lovely and striped when the sun shines through them.
        Yes thank you! My day has improved immeasurably since seeing you – Sam said he could see a visible difference!!! First set of designs all redone and finished, so Im am coming out the matrix again 🙂

  17. What a beautiful soup making good use of all the corn that is flooding the shops at the moment. My kids adore corn, I can take it or leave it as a vegetable but because you have flavoured this soup with spices and I love soup of any description I would love this. I agree the Froothie eliminates the need for cream, it makes the smoothest soup ever!

    1. I have called it a corn soup but really with a tiny bit of tinkering (more sweet potato, less corn say) it could easily be something else entirely. I am firmly into my soup making just now and the Froothie is the reason! So easy to get great soup

  18. I will just hop up on this soap box with you Kelly, if you don’t mind. But the seasonal sweet corn of our summer months are certainly not to be missed and enjoyed in its pure form. I’ve been enjoying it a lot in quinoa and salads too, but blended with sweet potato in this soup looks wonderful and seems like the perfect early fall dish.

    1. I love sweetcorn in quinoa and tomato salad too! I am still persevering with salads but these are now joined by soup. I am probably eating too much now! Thanks for the soap box support. I knew you would be with me on this one, Katie. 🙂

  19. What a lovely soup! I too have been spoiled by the corn of my youth (this seems to be a common theme for you and I, maybe it’s an expat thing?) and though I buy farmer’s market corn from time to time, it just ain’t BC corn. I think the freshness and spice level of this soup seems just about perfect. Do you think it would work well with frozen corn when the fresh stuff is out of season?

    1. We do have a nostalgia thing about our food past, don’t we? In fact, my friend Niki (she commented earlier) said to me today that she can tell from my posts that I get homesick at this time of year. You would think that after being happily settled for nearly 26 years that I would be able to move on. You must be the same. You do the wistful post thing too. 😉 Oh, and I think this would be tasty with frozen corn, just not as creamy and ewith that certain something that only freshly shucked corn brings.

  20. This is sooooo beautiful! and comforting… loved the line: freshly harvested corn should be eaten as corn on the cob! I agree.. though this recipe is worth trying..

    Also.. we here too love having fresh corns grilled on an open fire and then rubbed with lemon, salt and some red chilly powder..
    Awesome to have in the monsoons…

    1. Oh gosh, you are making me hungry and I won’t be eating dinner for ages! Thanks for the kind comment. 🙂

      1. Haha..
        🙂 Look forward to more comment..

  21. sorry I meant look forward to more *posts from you

  22. platedujour says:

    This soup looks so elegant, not only tasty. I remember when I was little, my mom used to cook corn for us, I still remember this lovely smell and the taste of it! We loved it. Beautiful recipe Kellie 🙂 have a nice weekend xx

  23. Sally says:

    I love it when you get on your soapbox – and learned some more scary facts from you. Need a bowl of comforting soup after that.

  24. stateeats says:

    Very yummy looking and soap box lecture was actually very informative. Now I just have to get my hubby to accept this recipe – he is a corn HATER — who knew such a person even existed?

  25. Good to hear you on your soapbox, it is important that we are all aware of these issues. Fabulous looking soup too!

  26. Elizabeth says:

    Another stunner of a recipe! Thank you for sharing with Extra Veg (and thanks for linking up my own soup recipe too!) x

  27. The best corn we eat in this house is straight from the garden, cooked within minutes of picking. But sadly (being a southern UK gal) the season and crop are far too short lived! still….. we are definitely heading into soup season now and this one looks like a diamond. Bookmarked!

  28. Sophie33 says:

    I made your divine soup & it rocked! So delicious, so soothing,….so fabulous even! x

  29. Wonderful soup Kellie, with beautiful images. Thank you for linking up to #ExtraVeg

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