Creamy Winter Corn and Sweet Potato Soup

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  8 servings
Prep Time:  30 minutes Cook Time:  2 hours 30 minutes

Creamy Winter Corn and Sweet Potato Soup

Corn flavor in winter? The secret is the dried corn (aka hominy) that gives this soup a solid backbone, along with a fat pinch of maple sugar. The addition of some milk or cream and the topping of crème fraîche makes it super-duper creamy. Add a garnish of jalapeños if you like it lively, or keep it sweet and simple.

Ingredients

4 stalks celery, leaves included, cut into rough 1-inch pieces

2 parsnips, peeled and cut in rough 1-inch pieces

2 carrots, yellow preferred, peeled and cut into rough 1-inch pieces

1 small sweet onion, peeled and cut in quarters

6 cups frozen corn kernels, divided

8 fresh thyme sprigs (tied into a bundle with kitchen twine)

1 cup white hominy (dried corn)

2 quarts Corn Stock, Roasted Vegetable Stock, store-bought, low-sodium vegetable broth,  or water

2 medium sweet potatoes

¼ cup brown butter (see Kitchen Tips)

2 teaspoons maple sugar

2 teaspoons salt or more to taste

½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

2 cups milk or light cream

Instructions

  1. Make the base: In a large stockpot, combine the celery, parsnips, carrots, onion, 4 cups of the corn, the thyme, hominy, and enough stock and/or water to cover the mixture by 1 inch. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, remove the cover, and cook for 2 hours, or until the vegetables are completely softened and cooked through.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.
  3. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1-inch chunks and place them onto the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle the brown butter over them and turn with tongs to coat. Roast for about 40 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through and you can pierce them easily with the tip of a sharp knife. (This can either be made while the soup base is cooking or up to 2 days before you plan to serve the soup.)
  4. When the base is cooked, use an immersion blender to purée it until completely smooth. Set aside. (If you wish, this can also be done in a food processor, but it’s best to work in batches and very carefully, because the soup will be hot. When you’re done, return the purée to the pot. The soup base can be prepared up to 2 days before you plan to serve the soup.)
  5. Add the maple sugar, salt, pepper, half the sweet potatoes and the remaining corn kernels to the puréed soup, stir well, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the milk or cream, stir, cover, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Ladle into bowls and top with the remaining  roasted sweet potato chunks.

Kitchen Tips

  1. Prepare the brown butter by melting unsalted butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 12 minutes, until the milk solids turn brown and the butter has a nutty aroma. (It will foam and separate a bit but this is fine.) Remove from the heat, strain out the solids through a fine-mesh sieve, discard the solids, and set the remaining liquid aside to cool completely. Note that butter burns easily, so watch the heat carefully, and lift the pot off the burner occasionally if it seems like it’s becoming too hot. For ¼ cup brown butter, you will need ¾ stick (⅜ cup/85 grams /3 ounces/6 tablespoons) unsalted butter.
  2. If you wish, you can garnish each serving with a dollop of crème fraîche and some finely chopped jalapeños.

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