This Saturday, September 17, Slow Food USA is holding a $5 Challenge all around the country.
The idea: to demonstrate what you and I already know, that slow food can be as inexpensive as $5 fast food value meals, and often is even less expensive than that as-advertised $5 per serving.
This corn bisque is a good example of that. It is flexible, without garnishes, it costs around $2.10 per person, and with garnishes (who doesn’t like garnishes?), it’s $2.98 per person. Plus, it’s filling, fresh, local, and takes advantage of end-of-summer corn. Win-win-win-win, is how I look at it.
If you’re up for the challenge, please let the gang at Slow Food USA know by signing up here. And if you can’t participate this Saturday, any day will do. In fact, tonight is a fine night to embrace the $5 Challenge.
When making the soup, you'll puree the kernels from 4 of the 6 ears of corn, reserving the kernels from those last two ears for garnish. All other garnishes are optional, and feel free to try ones that suit your fancy - perhaps pesto? Or green onions? Maybe even some guacamole and black beans? I've decided to stay with a little clique of foods that I'm happy get along so well together: the grilled corn, of course, with its compadres bacon, tomato, and basil. Find them on pizzas at our house, find them in salads, find them atop this soup. But know that when you find them, you will find them together.
If you aren't familiar with grilling corn, before making the soup, you'll want to take a look at this post - it's an easy process, and worth using with both perfect sweet corn as well as the late-summer, slightly past prime ears.
Grilled Corn Bisque with Sweet & Savory Accoutrement
Yield: 8 cups (4-8 servings)
6 large ears corn, grilled, kernels cut from the cobs, and kernels from 2 ears reserved for use post-puree
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, coarsely chopped
1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, well-rinsed, coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2 stalks celery, trimmed and finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
4 cups vegetable stock
freshly ground black pepper
2 slices bacon, cooked to desired doneness and crumbled
2 tablespoons basil, sliced into thin ribbons
1 medium tomato, chopped and seeded
In a large saucepan or stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and leek, and saute until they're just translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the carrot and celery, and cook until they're softened, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes.
Add the thyme and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Add the kernels from 4 ears of corn, then pour in the vegetable broth. Bring the pot to a simmer, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes.
Allow the soup to cool to room temperature, then puree the soup until it is smooth using a blender, a food processor, or using an immersion blender. Season the soup with salt and pepper, and serve it forth with toppings of your choosing, including a quarter of the grilled corn kernels per bowl.
In a restaurant, they would most likely pass the soup through a sieve to remove any solids before serving, but I figure that we're home cooks, and we don't mind the occasional chunk in our homemade soup, so I serve it forth as is, after reheating it to my desired serving temperature. Of course, I also sprinkle the sweet and savory gang of chopped tomato, crumbled bacon, and basil into each bowl.
Estimated cost for 4 servings of soup with optional garnishes: $11.92. Without optional garnishes: $7.89. The corn costs 60¢ per ear, so $3.60 for 6. The olive oil costs 24¢, the shallot 25¢ or so, the leek in the range of $1.00, the carrot costs 13¢, the celery 40¢. The thyme costs $1.50 or so for a bunch, we’ll use about a quarter of that, so that’s 38¢. The vegetable stock costs $2.39 for 4 cups. That's $8.39 for the soup and grilled corn garnish, or $2.10 per serving. If you add basil, that's another 50¢ or so (if you're purchasing it and not growing it, that is), the bacon is $1.53 if we’re being exact (and I did just purchase 2 slices of Black Forest bacon in the name of exactitude), and the tomato should be around $1.50, so that adds $3.53 to the total, or 88¢ per serving, for a grand total of $2.98 each.
Copyright 2010, Amy McCoy/Poor Girl Gourmet. May not be reprinted without permission.