This recipe for sweet corn soup with gremolata captures everything I love about summer – tender sweet corn, fresh savory herbs, bright flavor, and endless nostalgia.
I am a born and bred Jersey girl, and food is intricately woven into the fabric of our sub-culture. Everybody’s got an opinion about something, and they’ll sit you down and set you straight on any number of topics. Pork roll vs. taylor ham. City vs. Jersey bagels. Where to get the best boardwalk pizza (and salt water taffy, and hot dogs). Gravy vs. Sunday sauce. The best diner in town. Subs vs. hoagies. Occasionally the battles get heated, especially when a northerner faces off with a Trentonian (I’m looking at you LNF). But there are a few things we can all agree on – Jersey tomatoes are the reddest and juiciest, Wawa is the shit, and fresh Jersey sweet corn is life-changing.
Some of my earliest childhood memories involve shucking corn into a paper bag for dinner while sneaking bits of fresh raw kernels into my belly, and then scavenging around the kitchen junk drawer to find enough cobb forks. Even though I now live in the DC area, I still eagerly await the arrival of those first fresh ears of sweet corn at the farmer’s markets. They’re not as good as Jersey corn, but the nostalgia can’t be beat.
Sweet Corn Soup with Gremolata Recipe Notes
After roasting a few ears for immediate consumption, this sweet corn soup is the first corn recipe of the summer I reach for. It’s sweet (duh) but complex, and the herby gremolata perfectly compliments the fresh summer corn.
There is absolutely no difference between white and yellow corn, so feel free to use whatever strikes your mood. I prefer yellow corn (or bi-color) simply for the color. And you must use fresh corn – frozen is fine when corn isn’t the star, but to get the flavor and texture just right here, take the extra 10 minutes to shave fresh corn off the cob. Plus you’ll want to toss those cobs into the broth for an extra flavor boost.
I use four different herbs in this recipe and they each lend a new level of complexity to the finished soup – rosemary for simmering, and then a blend of fresh basil, oregano, and chives for the gremolata. Let’s talk about gremolata for a minute. I know it sounds fancy, but it’s really just chopped herbs with garlic.
This soup is naturally gluten-free and vegetarian. Make it vegan by using avocado oil in place of butter. On the flip side, feel free to add a splash of cream (about a quarter cup) before blending for a heartier version. We had this for dinner with rosemary olive oil bread and a simple green salad. Leftovers keep well in the fridge for about a week and are even better the next day.
Sweet Corn Soup with Gremolata
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 medium vidalia onion diced to ½”
- 4 ears fresh corn kernels sliced off and cobs reserved
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 3-4 c. water
- 1-2 tsp lime juice
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 4 tbsp olive oil for garnish
- gremolata for garnish (see recipe below)
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
- 2 garlic cloves minced
Chop the onion and prep the corn. Set aside a small amount of fresh corn for garnish (a quarter to third of a cup).
Heat a dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add butter and melt until it foams. Add onions, stir to coat in the fat, then cover. Sweat the onions over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and translucent, 13-15 minutes.
Add the corn kernels and rosemary sprig and enough water to barely cover the vegetables (mine took just over 3 cups). Place the cobs on top. It’s okay if the cobs aren’t completely submerged (they float).
Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil. Then, reduce to medium low and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until the corn is soft and the rosemary is wilted.
While the soup is simmering, prepare the gremolata. Finely chop the herbs and mince the basil. Place the herbs and basil in a small ramekin and stir.
Remove the soup from heat and fish out the corn cobs and rosemary sprig. Transfer the soup to a blender and add the lime juice, salt, and pepper. Blend to your desired consistency. Alternatively, use a stick blender in the pot. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt, pepper, or lime juice as needed.
Ladle the finished soup into bowls and garnish with a few splashes of olive oil and ½ - ¾ tbsp of gremolata. Serve immediately.
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