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Sweet Corn Soup with Basil Scallion Oil

Yield: 4 servings

  • 3 ears very fresh sweet corn (yellow or white)
  • 1 tablespoon grape seed oil
  • 1 small onion, peeled and diced
  • salt and freshly ground pepper (note: white pepper is also good in this soup)
  • basil oil, for garnish (see below)

Put 6 cups water in a pot. Husk corn. Cut the kernels from each ear, but don’t go very deep; after the kernels are removed, scrape the remaining pulp from the ears with the back (dull side) of a knife. Set the corn aside, and put the cobs into the pot of water. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and let cook at a gentle simmer for 10 minutes. Fish the cobs out and discard them, saving the liquid; strain to remove any bits of silk.

Heat oil in a heavy saucepan and add onion. Cover and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice, until softened and translucent, but not browned.

Add corn and broth, bring back to the boil,  turn down the flame, and simmer 5 minutes. Purée in a blender, or for a slightly more textured soup, use a hand-held immersion blender, stopping when you like the texture. Reheat, taste and adjust seasoning with salt and black or white pepper. Top each portion with a few drops of basil oil, below.

Quick Basil-Scallion Oil

Yiled: about 3/4 cup, enough to use in the soup and to garnish other dishes or as a salad oil

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed basil leaves, from one bunch basil
  • 2 scallions, cut in one-inch pieces
  • 1 cup oil — use 1/2 extra-virgin and 1/2 grapeseed oil
  • generous pinch salt

Combine ingredients, and process well in the blender. Pour into a small pan, bring to a simmer; simmer 45 seconds by the clock. Let drip through a “gold” coffee filter without pushing on the contents. The resulting bright green, flavorful oil will hold in the refrigerator for a week. Bring to room temperature before using. It’s fun to put some in a squeeze bottle, and use it to decorate plates of food with dots, swooshes, etc.

Note: there are many methods of making oils from fresh herbs. All of them require at least a quick blanching of the herbs to stop enzyme action; this method combines that with the infusion into the oil. Although it may be tempting to flavor your basil oil with garlic, don’t try it unless you’re making a very small batch and using it up. The danger of botulism from homemade garlic oil is very real.