When it comes to sweet corn, us Iowans are practically walking, talking memes on the subject. Visit a grocery store in the summertime and you can have a conversation with anyone inside about the local grower without even saying their name — including the fact that they were three weeks late to harvest.
Me, pointing to the mountain of sweet corn at the grocery store then turning to the produce guy: “Is this?”
Produce guy: “Yep, just got it in! He was late getting it out of the fields this year.”
Me: “Mmm, mm-hmm. I heard. Whelp, better late than never!”
Produce guy: “Isn’t that the truth!”
Produce guy: :)
What can I say, we take our fresh summer corn seriously and try to enjoy those sweet and snappy ears every which way possible for the few short weeks post-harvest. Grilled. Sauted. Simmered. Raw. Paired with bacon and bourbon. (Click here for all my sweet corn recipes!)
My new favorite way to enjoy fresh summer sweet corn? Sweet Corn Soup! This brothy, buttery soup is BEYOND delicious, fresh, and light. Pair with a side salad for a breezy, late-summer dinner, or freeze to enjoy in the dead of winter with a hunk of (gluten free) bread. I love how snappy and crispy the sweet corn is!
Sweet Corn Soup
Sweet Corn Soup is fresh sweet corn kernels sliced from the cob then simmered in broth flavored with garlic, Italian seasoning, and vegetables including carrots and caramelized leeks.
Translation: it is IRRESISTIBLE! The combination of crispy sweet corn, tender vegetables, and rich broth is two-bowl-worthy. I have a creamy sweet corn soup recipe on IGE, but I love how brothy and nourishing this soup recipe is – no cream nor blender needed.
This recipe has one foot in the summer, and the other in fall. My advice is to make it as often as possible over the next several weeks, or freeze fresh sweet corn to make this anytime you want when the temperatures dip.
Sweet Corn Soup Ingredients
- Sweet Corn. Iowa sweet corn, please, if you can find it in your area. I may be biased, but it truly is the best in the country! Here’s the best way to shuck it. You can use frozen sweet corn but fresh (or frozen from fresh) is best in this soup if you can swing it.
- Butter. Feel free to use vegan butter if needed.
- Leeks. If you’ve never cooked with leeks before, you’re in for a treat. We caramelize them in this recipe until they’re golden brown, sticky, and slightly sweet.
- Carrots. I use shredded carrots to cut down on prep time, but thinly sliced baby or regular carrots are fine to use.
- Pepper and Homemade Seasoned Salt. Swapping regular salt for my homemade seasoned salt truly makes a difference taste-wise in the final product. All you need are 4 everyday ingredients.
- Garlic. Sweet corn and fresh garlic go together like sweet corn and butter — which is why I included lots of both in this recipe!
- Chicken Stock. Since this easy soup recipe cooks so quickly, I like to use chicken stock vs broth for maximum flavor. Feel free to use vegetable stock to make this a vegetarian soup (use vegan butter to make it completely vegan.)
- Italian Seasoning. A dash of Italian seasoning adds lots of herby flavor to the Sweet Corn Soup.
- Lemon Juice. A drizzle of fresh lemon juice at the end brightens the flavor of the soup. I’ve used lime juice in a pinch and really liked that too.
- Toppers: I love garnishing each bowl of Sweet Corn Soup recipe with chopped fresh herbs like basil or chives, or even thinly sliced green onions. They’re the perfect finishing touch!
If you’re anything like me then soup season lasts 12 months a year regardless of the outside temperature. If you believe that soup is to be savored only when the temperatures dip, the good news is that Sweet Corn Soup freezes beautifully. Simply cool the soup then transfer it into Souper Cubes or freezer-safe Ziplock bags, chill completely in the refrigerator, and then transfer to the freezer.
Thaw in the fridge 24 hours before eating, and then reheat in a pot on the stove or microwave before dishing up and serving.
Whose ready to dig in to this pot of lusciousness?!
How to Make Sweet Corn Soup
Step 1: Prep the Leeks
Leeks are like a cross between an onion and garlic, and caramelize similarly to an onion, but are more delicate which I like for a soup recipe.
Choose a couple of leeks that are medium in size – here’s my hand for reference!
For the Sweet Corn Soup, we utilize only the white and light green parts of the leeks, so slice off the root and dark green ends.
Leeks are notorious for being muddy/dirty/sandy, so peel off the outer layer if you see a bunch of dirt. We’ll clean them up here in a moment, but I like to get rid of the outer layer if the leek is super muddy.
Next, slice each half in half lengthwise, and then each half lengthwise into quarters.
Last step is to thinly slice each quarter.
Add the thinly sliced leeks to a bowl of water then swish them around to release any dirt/sand. Let the leeks sit in the water for a few minutes to let the dirt float to the bottom of the bowl then use your hands to scoop the leeks floating on top into a colander.
Leek prep = done!
Step 2: Caramelize the Leeks
Melt butter in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat then add the cleaned and drained leeks and stir to coat them in butter. Season with homemade seasoned salt and pepper then saute for 5 minutes.
Next add shredded carrots then saute until the carrots are tender and the leeks are caramelized, 10 minutes.
Add lots of minced fresh garlic, plus a pinch of dried red chili pepper flakes, then saute until the garlic is extremely fragrant, 1 minute.
Step 3: Slice the Corn Kernels from the Cob
While the leeks are caramelizing, slice fresh sweet corn kernels from the cob using a sharp knife.
Take it from me, your friendly Iowa food blogger, to advise you on the best, safest, most mess-free way to slice sweet corn kernels from the corn cob. Follow this easy tutorial!
Step 4: Simmer the Sweet Corn
Add chicken stock and Italian seasoning to the pot then bring to a boil. Next add the sweet corn kernels, turn the heat down to medium, and simmer until the corn is crisp tender – 5-7 minutes. I love it to still have a snappy, crispy bite.
Step 5: Season and Serve
Last step is to season the soup with a drizzle of fresh lemon juice to brighten each bite then taste and add more seasoned salt and freshly cracked black pepper if necessary. Scoop into bowls then garnish with fresh herbs like chives or basil, or a mound of crispy green onions. If you want to pump up the protein, you could add shredded chicken, but I truly love each bite in its simple, glorious glory!
However you serve it, I hope you love and savor each fresh and delicious bite of this Sweet Corn Soup. Enjoy!
More Summery Soup Recipes
- Sweet Corn, Kielbasa and Potato Soup
- Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup
- Summer Chickpea Stew
- Spicy Shrimp Soup
- Senegalese Soup
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Sweet Corn Soup
Sweet Corn Soup is brothy, buttery, and the perfect way to enjoy summer's freshest sweet corn! Or, freeze to enjoy in the colder months.
- 4 Tablespoons butter or vegan butter
- 1 large or 2 medium-sized leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced (3 cups, see notes)
- 1 cup shredded or thinly sliced carrots
- homemade seasoned salt and pepper (see notes)
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- pinch red chili pepper flakes, optional
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 scant teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 3 cups sweet corn kernels sliced from the cob (~4 ears sweet corn)
- 1 - 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- Garnish: chopped fresh chives, chopped fresh basil, sliced green onions
- Melt butter in a 4 - 5 quart Dutch Oven over medium heat. Add leeks, season with seasoned salt and pepper, then saute until softened, 5 minutes. Add carrots then saute until carrots are tender and leeks are caramelized, stirring often, 10 more minutes. Add garlic and red chili pepper flakes (if using) then saute until garlic is very fragrant, 1 minute.
- Add a big glug of chicken stock then use a spatula to scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Add remaining stock and Italian seasoning then turn heat up to high to bring the soup to a boil. Add sweet corn kernels then turn heat back down to medium and simmer until corn is crisp-tender, 5-7 minutes. Add fresh lemon juice to taste — soup shouldn’t taste lemony, just brightened — plus more seasoned salt and pepper if desired. Scoop into bowls then serve with fresh herbs and/or green onions.
- Leeks can be very muddy/dirty so, after slicing off and discarding the root and dark green end, slice the leek in half lengthwise, and then in half again to create long, thin quarters. Thinly slice each quarter then add the sliced leeks to a large bowl of water. Swish the leeks around in the water then let sit for 5 minutes to let the dirt sink to the bottom of the bowl. Scoop the leeks out from the top of the bowl with your hands then into a colander and drain well.
- Click here for my homemade seasoned salt recipe >
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
Photos by Ashley McLaughlin