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Friday, January 13, 2012

Corn, Leek and Chestnut Velouté

Julienned leeks that are deep fried add a lot of texture

As you know, our new home is Luzern, Switzerland.   Late one night after going to a concert, we popped into the local brewery house to get a bite to eat.    It is called the Rathaus Braueri and is a great place to hang out and have a Beer (they brew their own). http://www.rathausbrauerei.ch/

Determined to order off the German menu, the only item I recognized was the word Corn (der Mais = maïs) and I knew this was a soup, so it was a perfect late evening snack.

What I received was a delicious bowl of corn, leek and chestnut soup (just before Christmas so there were lots of chestnuts around).  Although a bit thin in texture, the flavors were amazing.  I decided to try to recreate this at home.  It was relatively easy to do and with the absence of fresh corn, I bought the package of 3 corns on the cob wrapped in plastic from the grocery store.  Frozen corn cobs would have also been fine.  The important thing was to have the cob which would cook with the stock to infuse it with as much corn flavor as possible.

If you can't find chestnuts, you can replace with pecans or even smoked almonds.

You will need: serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 big bowls

  • 3 small leeks, white part only, cut in 1/2 lengthwise and then in 1/2 inch pieces,
  • 600 g of corn on the cob (3 small cobs), with kernels cut off the cob
  • 1.5 liters (about 5-6 cups) of water to cover the solids
  • 1 cube of vegetable stock (or 1 tbsp of powdered vegetable stock)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • lemon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • 75 g of roasted, peeled chestnuts
  • 1 leek cut into fine julienne
  • oil for frying

  1. Sauté the leeks in about 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat;
  2. Add the corn kernels and cook for about 5 minutes (no color);
  3. Add the cobs to the pan and cover the solids with cold water;
  4. Add the cube of vegetable stock, sprigs of lemon thyme and let simmer for 30 minutes;
  5. Remove cobs from pan and purée in a blender until very smooth (remember to add just enough liquid to facilitate blending - you can adjust consistency better this way by adding more of the cooking liquid after it is blended);
  6. Pass through a fine sieve pressing down on solids to extract as much flavor as possible (this is necessary as the corn will leave skins which are unpleasant in the mouth);
  7. Return to pan and simmer for a few minutes to reduce and intensify flavors;
  8. Add pat of butter, cream and season to taste;
  9. Chop chestnuts and add to soup with a few drops of lemon juice, keep warm.
For the garnish:
  1. Heat about 2 inches of peanut oil in high sided pan over medium heat (oil should not be too hot or the delicate leeks will burn);
  2. Test by putting a piece of leek in the oil.  If it start to sizzle, it is ready.
  3. Add a small handful of julienned leeks and cook until they begin to color slightly;
  4. Drain on paper towel and season with salt.
  5. Ladle soup into bowl and add a bunch of fried leeks and a few leaves of lemon thyme as garnish.
  6. Serve with crusty bread!