The last of the season's corn and some wonderfully earthy, spicy fresh thyme from my garden were the culprits that got me thinking, during last night's chilly evening, that I would make soup.
I love thyme. It's the herb I will reach for or go pick when I want a deeply satisfying, down home flavor that speaks of cold nights, blissful blue-sky days, and the shortening of those days that makes us want to snuggle up with a comforter (be it down or significant other) in the evening. The scent of thyme in my kitchen is comfort in and of itself. Pair it with a simple soup and I'm just comfy all over.
Then there's corn. Such a versatile vegetable: it shines in fritters to savory flans then delights in making taste buds dance in sweet puddings; from stuffings to soups and stews, on the cob dripping with butter or sliced off the cob paired with grilled prawns, corn satisfies. It humbly plays second fiddle to so many things I make yet without it the dish would seem incomplete.
I've thrown many good things into this soup, but the crisp corn kernels and the pungent thyme are the ingredients being showcased for Kalyn's second anniversary celebration of Weekend Herb Blogging. WHB has got to be the longest running food event in the blogosphere and I'm happy and proud to be a part of it. Click here to read about how it all got started. Click here to read about this month's anniversary event. Join in the fun - vote for what you think will be the most favorite vegetable and the most favorite herb of 2007, then submit a recipe using one of your faves of each between now and October 14th.
Corn and Thyme Soup with Seared Chicken Thighs and Roasted Asparagus
Christine's original recipe
1 cup sweet onion, chopped kind of small (I used one small sweet onion and one cipollini)
1 large red bell pepper, seeds removed, chopped small
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, minced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
5-6 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut from cobs
1 pound asparagus, oven roasted
4-5 cups homemade chicken stock or low sodium, fat-free chicken broth if purchased (See Cook's Notes)
1 tablespoon, or more, fresh thyme, chopped fine (dried thyme works well also)
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sauteed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil (more if necessary)
1 tablespoon Earth Balance or butter
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup dry Vermouth
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place the washed asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and a few sprinkles of kosher salt.
Roast asparagus in the hot oven for about 7 minutes, shaking the pan occassionally.
Remove from the oven when just beyond al dente and slightly browned. Set aside.
Meanwhile, using a deep bowl to catch the corn, with a sharp chef's knife, cut the kernels from the corn cobs. When the kernels are removed, extract the corn milk from the cobs by using the back of the knife and running it up the corn cobs. Set aside.
Have a large soup pot ready to heat and receive ingredients.
Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and earth balance.
When the oil/butter shimmers, add the chopped onions and saute for about 5 minutes or until they soften.
Add the garlic and give a quick stir. When the garlic aroma tickles your nose, add the red and jalapeno peppers to the skillet, stirring and sauteing for about 5 minutes more.
Add the thyme to the skillet and stir to coat the veggies.
Add about 1 cup stock to the skillet and stir to loosen any brown bits that may have stuck to the pan. Pour all of this into the soup pot.
Add the corn and corn milk to the soup pot along with the rest of the stock and heat gently on medium low heat. Maintain the heat under the skillet.
In the skillet, over medium-high heat, saute the chicken thighs, adding more olive oil if needed, until the thighs are golden brown all over and almost fully cooked.
Remove the thighs from the heat and let rest for a few minutes before cutting into bite size pieces.
Immediately upon removing the thighs from the skillet, deglaze the pan with the vermouth, scraping up the browned bits (fond) from the bottom of the pan. Pour the fond and vermouth into the soup pot.
Add the thigh pieces to the soup pot and keep at a simmer for about 10 minutes.
Cut the roasted asparagus into 1 to 2-inch pieces and toss into the soup pot.
Adjust the seasonings, adding more thyme, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper if desired.
Ladle into deep, warmed bowls and serve with crusty artisan bread.
This soup may be made vegetarian or vegan with just a few small adjustments:
Omit the chicken thighs, of course.
Use Earth Balance exclusively (vegan).
Instead of using chicken stock, gently boil the de-kerneled corn cobs in 6-8 cups of water with a sprig of fresh thyme for about 25 minutes. Strain the stock (you should have about 4 cups) and continue with the recipe.
Copyright © 2005-2007, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved