I can’t remember exactly when sweet corn soups went out of fashion in my home. It seems like just yesterday we would be emptying out tins of the Sil stuff into a pan with water and veggies, or frying squares of the steamed creamed corn to a crisp cake with sweet chilli sauce on the side. That said, neither of these favourite corn dishes would taste of the real sweet sweet corn that’s available to us during the monsoons, and I think that’s a real shame.
The corn— both white and yellow are incredible this time around and I wanted to fashion a sweetcorn soup to rival the stuff we grew up eating. It would have to be creamy and hearty, but also spicy and warming for times when I stumble indoors from the deluge outside. My creamy jalapeño sweetcorn soup is exactly that hug you’ll want on gloomy, all-rained-out evenings. To complement the soup, I serve the cheesy toasts of my childhood, which are like crouton substitutes. Made very simply with equal parts cheddar, onion and capsicum, these can come together while the corn soup is still on the hob.
In a lot of homes, and mine is no exception, there’s always somebody who will turn their nose up at soup or refuse to have it altogether, and so their portion of soup goes into the refrigerator. A great way to use this the next morning is by making a masala French Toast. Simply crack a few eggs and splash in the soup. Adjust seasoning if necessary. We usually like to up the chilli, add onions and chopped coriander leaves to the batter at this point. Then it’s just a matter of dipping and dropping the halved slices of bread into hot fat till they’re golden on both sides. It’s delicious, and nothing goes to waste.
I’ve included here a quick variation of this French Toast recipe with white corn and milk with instructions for both savoury and sweet toasts. It’s a simple blitz-and-go job making this a good option for breakfast when you can’t be bothered to make any in the morning.
Recipe for the soup:
Sweetcorn and Jalapeno Soup With Cheesy Toasts
Yield 4-6 servings
Use golden sweetcorn from the markets that are firmly packed and the rows of corn when the husk is pulled back looks a lush yellow colour. Jalapeno chillies are an absolute must here. You’ll want to use the fresh chillies and not the pickled variety.
Butter 2 tablespoons
Olive oil 1 tablespoon
Onions 2, medium-sized, finely chopped
Garlic 4-5 cloves
Sweetcorn 6 cobs
Chicken stock or vegetable stock 700ml or 3 cups
Jalapeno chillies 3-4
Salt and White pepper
Cream 1/2 cup
Chilli cheese toasties
Bread 4 slices
Onion 1 large, finely chopped
Capsicum 1 medium-sized, finely chopped
Green chilli 2 small, slit lengthwise and finely chopped
Coriander 2 tablespoons, finely chopped
Processed Cheddar Cheese 1/2 cup, grated
Pinch of salt and pepper
Shuck the corn kernels from the cob over a bowl to catch any kernels that may fly.
In a frying pan set over high heat or over a naked flame, add the chillies and scorch them on all sides. Once nicely blackened on all sides, take it off the heat and chop them up.
In a medium to large saucepan set over medium high heat, add the butter and the olive oil together. Once it is hot, add the onions. Give it a good stir, then turn the heat down to low and let the onions cook slowly till very soft but not coloured-for about 8-10 minutes. Next add the garlic and turn the heat up slightly, letting the garlic cook for a few minutes too.
Next, add the corn kernels and stir well for 2-3 minutes. Add the chillies and toss for a minute more before splashing in the chicken or vegetable stock. Bring it all up to a simmer over medium high heat and cover with a tight fitting lid. Let this cook slowly for 20 minutes at least.
After 20 minutes have passed, season the soup and using a hand blender, blend the soup. I like to still keep a bit of bite to the soup and not blitz it till ultra creamy, but you could if you like.
Return the blended soup to the hob and stir the cream through. Heat the soup and check for seasoning.
While the soup is coming together, in a bowl combine all the ingredients for the cheesy toast filling. Halve the bread slices into two and pile up the filling over each slice. Transfer to a hot oven or under a grill to gratinate, and serve alongside the soup.
Any leftover soup is treated as milk in classic French toast recipes. Since this is a lovely savoury soup, simply up the onions, chilli and add some coriander to make a sweetcorn masala French toast
Recipe for the French Toast:
White Corn French Toast
Yield 12-15 pieces
The subtle, nutty white corn flavour is the blank canvas for sweeter ingredients like cinnamon and vanilla. This French toast with its custardy centre is perfect for no-fuss breakfasts.
White corn kernels 125g
Milk 175ml or 3/4ths of a cup
Cinnamon 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp depending on the strength of your cinnamon powder
Sugar 3 tablespoons
Vanilla essence just a touch
A pinch of salt
Bread 6-7 slices, cut into half
Butter for frying
Real Maple syrup for serving
Blitz together the corn kernels and the milk, then run it through a sieve to catch all the liquid. Squeeze with your hands if necessary. Set this milk aside. You'll be using the milk from the corn in your french toast.
Whisk together the eggs, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla essence and a pinch of salt together. Splash in the milk and whisk again.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and add a spoonful of butter. Give the butter a moment to get hot.
Depending on the thickness of your bread, dip each slice of bread for just a second if the slices are thin, or for longer if it's the thickness of pao-up till 3-4 minutes and working quickly layer it on the pan. Let the toasts get golden and crispy on the underside before flipping it over so both sides are golden. Do this for all the slices, adding butter between additions as necessary.
Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup.