A delightfully flavored chilled soup that’s perfect for summer. Smoked Corn Gazpacho features rich and savory wood-smoked corn that adds a unique note to this beautiful, light and refreshing vegetable soup.
In one way, summer seems to be winding down fast. My very large school district made a significant schedule shift for this year, and school actually starts up in just a few weeks, rather than at the end of August. So, even though I don’t have kiddos, back-to-school vibes and fall clothing (what!) are in full swing around here. It’s sort of surreal.
But in another way, summer is still very much large and in charge. As I’m typing this, I’m hunkered down in my air conditioning with all the shades pulled against the eye-popping heatwave that’s gripping the nation (if you live in the U.S., you probably were, too, this weekend!).
There just couldn’t be a more perfect moment for chilled soup than right now. The thing I love most about soups like gazpacho, is that there’s no cooking required. At least not indoors, for today’s corn gazpacho (but I’ll give an alternative to get around even that here in a sec). Buzz it up, let it chill, dig in. Three steps to a refreshing summer soup.
I haven’t been particularly coy this summer about my obsession with wood-smoked corn, either here on the blog, or IRL. Not to continue harping on the weather, but, this is the Ohio Valley, and our summers are hot, not miserable. Except this year, where it’s been 88°F or above for about 27 of the last 30 days. Insane.
So, there’s been no grilling out at Casa SoupAddict. Except for smoked corn. Once you get past the short discomfort of firing up the charcoal (or, zero discomfort, if you’re using a gas grill), you can toss the corn cobs on the grates and let them do their thing for a half hour, while you duck back into the a/c (always check on an active grill, though — safety first!).
Wood-smoking corn is ever so easy (as you’ll see in the recipe). Wood chips are available at hardware stores, and now even the big box grocery stores. You don’t need fancy smoking equipment: a sheet of foil will do nicely to create a simple, no-fuss-no-muss packet.
The result is a true summer taste treat: the sweet crunch of (hopefully) local corn kissed with the smoky goodness of the grill. The corn isn’t charred in the process, only smoked, so it keeps its texture and corn essence.
But, if you just can’t bear to face the outdoors, no problem: just use the raw kernels, straight off the cob (yes, you can eat raw corn!). You’ll lose the smoky savoriness but will have a delicious, summery corn soup nonetheless.
Speaking of savoriness, I spent a lot of time thinking about chilled soups this summer. Some of you who might be hesitant to jump on the chilled soup bandwagon might be wondering about the difference between a chilled soup and, say, a green smoothie. Aren’t they the same thing, when you get right down to it?
My answer is: not quite. At least, not the way I do chilled soups. I’ve seen gazpacho recipes where someone throws a tomato, an avocado, and some cilantro and lime juice in a blender, and calls it soup. Legit. But, that’s also halfway there to a tasty V8 smoothie.
I always make sure my chilled soups, including this Smoked Corn Gazpacho, have distinct savory/umami notes.
And this extends beyond the vegetables you see in the photo above. Umami can be added to a recipe in several ways — including with ingredients such as a deep, rich tomato paste, woodsy mushrooms, salty Parmesan, and briny olives and anchovies.
But, for bright, crisp summer fare, I prefer tangy vinegars and mild misos. You might associate miso with Asian cuisine, but miso is actually a flavor chameleon that can boost the tastiness of everything from soups to sauces to salad dressings. I always have a jar in the fridge.
When you’re struggling with a bland recipe, or flavoring up a bare-bones weeknight dinner, don’t shower on the salt before trying a little bit of miso dissolved in some water. It is, as the kids say, a flavor bomb. (Psst: it’s good for you, too.)
Wood-smoked corn, combined with summer’s best vegetables, plus herbs and miso, makes a tasty soup that you can eat right out of the fridge!
More chilled soups to love:
Smoked Corn Gazpacho
- 4 ears of sweet corn, shucked
- 6 - 8 ounces yellow cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 large yellow bell pepper, roughly chopped
- 1 small cucumber, sliced (peel if using a thick-skinned field cuke)
- 1 small shallot, sliced
- 1 tablespoon sweet/white miso
- 1 tablespoon sherry or champagne vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon minced cilantro
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
- Wood chips, soaked in water for 1 hour (apple or cherry is nice)
Smoke the corn
- Smoke 3 of the ears of the corn.
- Gas grill: preheat one side of grill to high. Charcoal grill: pile hot coals on one of side grill.
- Wrap drained wood chips in a flat foil packet, and use a knife to cut slits into the top side.
- When grill is hot, place the foil packet over the flame side of the grill (gas grilor directly on the coals (charcoal grill).
- When you see tendrils of smoke streaming from the slits in the foil packet, place 4 of the ears of corn on the unheated side of the grill. On a gas grill, close the lid. On a charcoal grill, open all the vents, and position the lid so that the smoke inside will flow over the corn and out the vent in the lid.
- Let the corn smoke 20 to 30 minutes. Check periodically to ensure that flames are not reaching the ears and singeing the kernels. The smoking process is finished when the kernels are lightly burnished.
- Remove from the grill and let cool.
Prepare the gazpacho
- If your miso is thick and pasty, mix it with a tablespoon of hot-to-the-touch (not boiling) water until dissolved.
- Add the miso (or miso solution), vinegar, salt, and 1/4 cup of water in a large bowl and whisk until mixed.
- Cut the kernels off from all 4 cobs (3 smoked, 1 fresh). Set aside a little of the corn kernels and cucumbers for garnish, if desired. Add the remaining corn kernels, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and shallots to the bowl and toss to coat with the marinade. If possible, let set for 15 minutes.
- Scrape the veggies and their juices into the jar of a high-speed blender. Add the herbs, and 1/4 cup of water, and blend on high until very smooth.
- Serve in small bowls as an appetizer. Garnish with a sprinkling of the vegetables.
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