Friday, October 1, 2010

How Did I Go Wrong? Let Me Count the Ways.

Just four ingredients, the chef had said when I'd asked for her recipe for the sweetest, purest, silkiest soup imaginable. White corn, onions, thyme, chicken broth. C'est tout. That's all.

When I spotted white corn at my farmers market the other day I plunked down three bucks for six ears, another buck for a leek, and headed home to pick thyme from my patio pot. That evening I made the executive decision to saute the leek in butter rather than oil. As the leek sizzled in the pot, I debated: garlic or no garlic? The pro argument was that I grew it in all its juicy garlickiness. The con argument was that it might detract from the sweetness of the corn. I added just one clove. Then the corn kernels and my favorite boxed chicken broth went into the pot. During the 45 or so minutes of simmering, I tasted and tweaked. It was savory, not sweet. I added honey. Then it was icky, not sweet. I added sugar. That was a bit better ~ acceptable. Deciding not to further mess with the taste, I whizzed the concoction around in the food processor to get it as silky as the sumptuously smooth creation I was attempting to emulate. But when I looked at my creation, all I could think was, "Baby just spit up her Pablum." To make it easier to stomach, I changed my impression to, "Grits, okay, it looks like lumpy grits." (I have no idea how grits are made; maybe that's what I'd accidentally made.)

How did I go wrong? Here are my best guesses; if you have others, please let me know.
Mistake #1 was the leek. I forgot the chef had said onions. I know leeks are mild and are often in soups, but I forgot my goal was sweet, not mild. Sweet onions would have been sweet. Du-uh.
Mistake #2 was the garlic. Again, I forgot the goal was sweet.
Mistake #3 was the honey. I love honey in, for instance, the applesauce I made the same evening, but it wasn't right for corn soup.
Mistake #4 was the sugar. I should have risked letting the corn's own sweetness shine through, although maybe it couldn't have gotten past the leek's and garlic's influences.
Mistake #5 was the food processor, but I don't know what machine to use to get a silky texture. I'm open to suggestions!

Say, would you like to come over for some applesauce?

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