Today’s chill in the air got me thinking once again about soup, and one of the favorites served as a first course over the years at our Thanksgiving dinners. One thing I always try to avoid in a menu is redundancy. If there’s butternut squash as a side, there’s no butternut squash soup to begin. So whenever that’s the case, I’d prepare this gorgeously golden corn bisque with red bell pepper.
This recipe first appeared in Bon Appetit in 1998; I discovered it a few years later and have had it on our Thanksgiving menu several times. It’s one of those simple dishes that’s short on effort and long on flavor – but only if you use the sweetest, most golden corn you can find. Otherwise the result will not achieve greatness. Trader Joe’s Supersweet Organic Corn beats all other in this regard, and I always make sure to buy mine well ahead of time because a few years ago they ran out…and my search for a substitute took forever combing the frozen vegetable aisles of half a dozen markets.
The soup can be prepared a day or two ahead, needing only to taken out of the fridge for about an hour and then reheated before serving.
CORN BISQUE WITH RED BELL PEPPER AND ROSEMARY
1/2 stick unsalted butter (4 tbsp)
2 cups chopped sweet onions
1/2 cup each diced carrot & celery
7-1/2 cups Trader Joe’s Organic Supersweet Corn (about 42 ounces or 2-1/2 packages)
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (this tiny bit adds a nice kick to the whole pot)
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup half & half
1 red bell pepper chopped
In a large heavy pot such as a 5-quart Dutch oven, melt 3 tbsp of the butter and sauté the onions, carrots and celery on medium high about 3 minutes. Add 5-1/2 cups of the corn, the rosemary and cayenne and sauté another 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer uncovered about 30 minutes.
Working in batches, pureé the soup in a blender (I originally did this step with an immersion blender, but the Vitamix works so much better). Return soup to the pot, stir in the half & half and the remaining 2 cups of corn. Season to taste with salt and pepper – it may not need any.
Melt the remaining 1 tbsp of butter in a large skillet over medium high heat and sauté the red bell pepper until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Stir into the soup. Done!
This recipe makes about 3-1/2 quarts of soup, enough for at least 12-14 first-course servings, maybe with some leftovers.