It's almost officially autumn, and the significant drop in temperatures can only mean one thing in culinary terms: time for soups. Now, I'm not a soup person. It is not the first item I would order on menu nor is it the first thing I would think about making for dinner. For me, there is a time a place for soups. The time: when it is cold. The place: at home.
Trinidad corn soup is the exception to all of my eccentric soup rules. The reason being the obvious: it is a recipe from where I grew up. Nonetheless, this is not something that many people cooked at home. Corn soup is a common part of the street food culture there. Therefore, to truly enjoy, we locals had to go "up the road," a phrase used to denote the center of whichever town you lived in. "Up the road" there would be sometimes two or three corn-soup vendors who usually sold their delicious variations on Friday and Saturday nights. Eating corn soup in the middle of town was very often incorporated into weekend happenings. Served in deep disposable bowls, it's easier to consume than one would assume.
With this being the onset of corn harvest, what better time to try this recipe. Here, I used fresh corn on the cob, however canned corn works just as well. The one thing you cannot get with canned corn is the huge chucks of corn added almost at the end of cooking to make this a truly Trinidad Style soup. I like to use my pressure cooker for this recipe not only because it reduces the cooking time but it pulverizes the split peas and softened the corn kernels to a consistency that is smoother than would be achieved by using a food processor. That being said, enjoy this soup but please be careful when using any pressure cooker. Follow manufacturer's instructions to prevent serious injury.
Trinidad Style Corn Soup
4 ears of corn
1/2 cup yellow split peas
3 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 bell pepper, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
1 carrot, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbps chopped cilantro
2 0z smoked bacon (or salted pig's tail)
hot sauce (your choice)
1/4 cup evaporated milk (optional)
1. Remove the kernels from three ears of corn. Set aside. Slice the remaining one ear of corn into 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick rounds. Set aside.
2. Saute the onions, sweet peppers, carrots, and garlic in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the split peas, fresh corn kernels, cilantro and bacon, and stir well. Pour in the chicken broth and pressure cook for 15 minutes on medium heat until the to completely pulverize the split peas.
3. Stir in the reserved chucks of corn. Cook uncovered for an additional 10 minutes until the chunks of corn have cooked through and the soup has thickened slightly. Stir in hot sauce (how much and what type depends on your preference) and evaporated milk, if using. Garnish with chopped chives.