The inspiration for this red pepper corn soup came from a Farmer’s Market visit about three years ago during the summer in late July. Yellow corn was piled high and several varieties of peppers were all ripened to their natural beautiful vibrant red color. There is a rich sweet flavor that comes from fully ripened sweet and hot peppers and yellow corn is bursting with flavor. This oil-free vegan red pepper corn soup expresses the best of summer into fall harvests. If you can’t get to a Farmers market, well-stocked grocery stores will have a nice selection of red peppers and corn during the season which is late July to October depending on where you located.
The Ripe Red Peppers for Corn Soup
There are many varieties of red peppers with varying levels of piquante, from mild, like the classic red bell to screaming piquante, like habaneros. For this Red Pepper Corn Soup I use a combination of mild and medium piquante red peppers. For the mild, I used the classic Red Bell pepper. Other mild peppers like Poblanos and Anaheim are also really good in this soup. Both Poblanos and Anaheim varieties are mild, but have some kick. Fresno peppers are thin skinned and have a mild, sweet and somewhat piquante flavor. Jalapeno peppers have a little more piquante and sometimes a lot more piquante. Serrano peppers are often quite piquante.
It’s a good idea to take a small taste of each before using so you can gauge how much of each pepper you want to add in the corn soup. The piquante of peppers goes a long way in soup, more so than other dishes like stews. The sweetness of the mild red peppers balances the piquante from the Fresno or Jalapeno peppers.
Corn is almost synonymous with the arrival of the height of summer. This year I noticed that the white corn was coming into the Farmers market much sooner than the yellow corn and grocery stores has had only white corn. While white corn is good for some dishes, I patiently waited for the yellow corn to make this particular corn soup. The yellow corn has more depth of flavor and makes for a fuller-flavored corn cob stock.
Chickpeas (also known as Garbanzo Beans) in the Red Pepper Corn Soup
Chickpeas with their texture and nutty taste and the sweet deep flavor of yellow corn are simply a delicious combo and really works in the this corn soup. I have made with and with out, but found the chickpeas are worth keeping in for the way they taste with the corn kernels. Cooked from dried chickpeas are best and will give you the highly coveted chickpea stock, but drained and well-rinsed canned chickpeas will also do fine for this soup.
Corn Soup Stock
Corn cob stock which uses the cobs from the soup part of the recipe can be made a day ahead. The corn cob stock can also be made while you are starting the soup in another stock pot. Cut of the kernels ahead of time, and start the stock (see below), then continue with the soup in another pot. If you don’t have time for stock making, store-bought vegetable stock or even water will do and the soup is good, but doesn’t have quite the depth or the balance of the sweetness that the corn cob stock gives. The chickpea stock from making chickpeas from dried is also good. Liquid from canned chickpeas is not so good. It has a tin taste and may add to much salt. A combination of homemade chickpea stock and corn cob stock which is very flavorful will be perfect too.
1/2 onion rough chopped (the ends of onions will also do)
1 Tbls of whole cumin
1 Tbls whole coriander
10–12 whole black peppercorns
10 cups water
Tools I Use: cutting board; chef knife; shallow bowl; Dutch Oven or Stock Pot; flat spatula; hand blender; stock pot for corn cob stock if making.
Corn, Red Pepper & Chickpea Soup
Remove the kernels from the cobs and set aside or place in refrigerator until ready to use. To keep the kernels from flying about, cut the pointed end of the cob so it is flat. Place in a shallow bowl with the flat end in the bowl, then cut the kernels straight down the cob. If you are making the corn cob stock you can start that now, see below.
Heat a stock pot or Dutch oven to medium.
Mean while, remove the membrane and seeds of all of the peppers, rough chop for the next step in the blender.
Using a hand blender (stick blender), food processor or blender, blend the mildest pepper first, then start adding the other more piquant peppers, tasting after each one so you eventually get about 11/2cups of red pepper paste that appeals your taste. It should be more piquante than you like tasting alone at this stage as the other ingredients will balance the total taste. Blend in the miso (if using). Set aside.
Add the diced onion to the heated pan.
When the onions have picked up some color and start to turn a little translucent (about 2 minutes), move them to the outer edge of the pan and add the grated garlic and smear on the bottom of the pan so it can stick.
Add the dry spices to the pan to toast a little. Continue cooking another 2 minutes or until the garlic becomes aromatic and slightly golden (don’t allow to brown or burn).
Pour in the red pepper paste to the pan slowly while stirring and rubbing the garlic off the bottom of the pan and cook or another 2–3 minutes.
Stir in the corn kernels and the cooked chickpeas.
Start adding the corn cob stock, chickpea stock, water or water 1 cup at a time, stirring after each.
Cover the pan and let simmer about 30 minutes.
Top with homemade garden salsa fresca. (the garden salsa fresca pictured above on the soup uses Vietnamese Lemon Balm instead of cilantro. Both herbs are good in the salsa and with this soup.
Corn Cob Stock
Remove the kernels from the cobs and set aside for the dish you are preparing or place in refrigerator until ready to use.
Heat a stock pot to medium.
Add the corn cobs, garlic, onion and spices and cook until fragrant (don’t allow to get dark or burn, not tasty in a stock).
Add 9–10 cups of water, bring to boil. Some water will evaporate during the simmering leaving about 8 cups when the stock is finished.
Once at a boil, lower heat to adjust for a simmer (light rolling boil) and simmer for a minimum of 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Allow to cool. Strain and place in containers for refrigerator or freezer loosely covered until cool enough to store in the refrigerator or freezer. It will last in the refrigerator for about 1 week or the freezer for 2–3 months.