We’re Cooking: Chilled Corn Soup with Fresh Lump Crab

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We had a Chardonnay filled dinner party the other evening for one of our favorite Chardonnay drinkers, so the menu was very light and fish filled. Our starter was this luscious and rich sweet corn soup….that was actually pretty good for you as I used just a touch of fat-free half and half, along with low-sodium veggie stock and a touch of unsweetened, low fat coconut milk, along with lots of fresh herbs.  I dressed the gorgeous lump crab meat in lemon and lime with lots of fresh basil and cilantro, with just a touch of red pepper flakes, adding dimension and incredible flavor to this perfect starter.  Pair with a creamy, citrus and tree fruit filled Chardonnay.  We chose an incredible one from the Carneros region of Napa Valley, Merryvale Starmont.

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Recipe:

Chilled Corn Soup with Fresh Lump Crab
Ingredients: (for 8 appetizers)
For the soup –
If you can find fresh corn, use about 8 ears, steamed, shucked and cut from the ears
or about 6 cups of frozen corn (perfect swap…… and always use frozen instead of canned)
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
4 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons each fresh chopped cilantro and parsley
1 tablespoon each salt and pepper, +/- to your taste
1 cup fat-free half and half (optional)

For the crab –
8 ounces jumbo lump crab meat, picked through for shells
1 tablespoon each fresh chopped basil, cilantro and mint
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Juice and zest of 1 lime
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, or to your taste

For the fresh herb oil, garnish, optional –
3 tablespoons each fresh cilantro, fresh basil and fresh parsley
1 cup fresh olive oil, or grapeseed oil
Pinch salt and pepper

Preparation:
For the soup – Add the olive oil to a large dutch oven on the stove over medium heat, add the onion and celery and cook for about 5 minutes until they start to soften. Add the corn, red pepper flakes and garlic (if using frozen corn it is fine to throw it in still frozen, no need to thaw.) Cook for another five minutes then add the wine and cook until almost evaporated.  Add the coconut milk and cook until reduced by half then add the chicken stock and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil then simmer for 20-30 minutes, add the fresh herbs in the last 10 minutes.  Turn the heat off then using either an immersion blender or food processor blend until very smooth.  Pour into a container that you can put in the refrigerator and refrigerate until cold.  Whisk in the half and half and adjust any final seasonings right before serving.

For the herb oil – Add the herbs and oil to a blender and blend until very smooth.  Using a very fine strainer, strain the oil through into a jar to be refrigerated.  Can last a week in the fridge.  For plating I put a bit of the oil in a squeeze bottle (like an old fashioned ketchup bottle) to drizzle on the soup. Can also be spooned around the soup in a circular motion.

For the Crab and plating – As the soup is cooking rinse the crab meat and pick through for any shells.  Pat dry.  Add the crab to a bowl with the remaining ingredients, gently folding them together (you want to keep the integrity of the shellfish and its beautiful lump shape.)  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, pour the soup into 8 soup bowls.  Drizzle a bit of the oil around the bowl on top of the soup.  It should be light enough that it won’t sink into your soup.  Gently lay a spoonful of the crab meat in the center of each bowl, careful to keep it on the top of the soup as well, so it won’t sink to the bottom for the presentation.  Garnish with a bit of extra cilantro if you like.

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