I stare at my cutting board, chopping one red chile. Chop chop chop. A good chef never makes a sound with her knife a voice from my past whispers. Brushing it aside, I focus on the chile. The seeds have been scooped out; I can still feel their heat on my fingers, my thumb. I just barely remember not to rub my eyes and wash my hands viciously. The tiny white circles are set aside, there on a spoon, and I continue to dice. That small pepper is fierce, and begs to be thrown into the soup pot, to set fire to the corn, the lemongrass. I smile, knowing even a few months ago I would have omitted it, afraid of it. There is a small connection inside, some light peeking in a dark space. I ponder my expanding palate: the bitter and acidic and spicy, and wonder if it has anything to do with growing older, watching life give freely, and then take away. Sure of it, I confidently throw in the chopped red chile,
but not the seeds. They are still too hot. My husband is at work, but I hear him speak clearly, ‘Throw them in! Throw them all in, my Love. What are you afraid of? Why are you so afraid to burn?‘ But still I toss them in the trash, and they are sent outside with the rest of it. Somewhere, just out of sight, it is all piling; garbage heaped on top of garbage, groaning at the incalculable weight, unable to bury itself in the ground and make its peace with the earth. I imagine my fiery seeds tumbling between it all, itching to flame up and destroy the waste. But it is not their turn, not yet. Instead the seeds settle down far, they are waiting, watchful. For when I am ready I will have to find them myself, search through all the excess, this junk. I will dig with for them my own hands, then they will help me start a fire.
‘Harriet; I have nothing much in the way of religion, or even morality, but I do recognize a code of behaviour of sorts. I do know that the worst sin – perhaps the only sin – passion can commit, is to be joyless. It must lie down with laughter or make its bed in hell – there is no middle way…’ Lord Peter Wimsey Gaudy Night

Lemongrass and Sweet Corn Soup with Creme Fraiche

This is a really delicious soup, with a lot of flavor. The original recipe calls for 4 cups of milk, but I found this to be too heavy, and cut it with some stock. I also added a squeeze of lime juice at the end – I found the lime brightened the flavor a lot and added a lovely dimension. Also, this is such a fantastic cookbook. I highly recommend checking it out.4 cups corn, fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons butter
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 red chile, seeded and finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
5 stalks lemongrass, finely chopped
4 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
squeeze of lime [optional]
Over medium heat, heat the butter in a large Dutch oven or stock pot; add the onion, ginger and chile. Saute until soft but not brown, 4-5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add the flour, and stir and cook for 1 minute. Add the milk, stock, lemongrass, corn and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Blend the soup in a food processor or blender until smooth, and then pass through a sieve and season to taste. Serve with a swirl of creme fraiche and a squeeze of lime juice, if using.
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19 Responses to lemongrass + corn soup

  1. So so lovely… I am too still a bit afraid of spicy hot… Would it be terrible if I made this soup without the chile peppers? (feeling almost ashamed to ask even ;-)) I was coming to your site to get the link to your lentil leek soup, which I’m including in our week’s meal plan… and I saw this one… Getting on my to do list for the very near future. With or without the peppers…that is the question.

  2. london bakes says:

    As ever, you give me so much to think about. I love the way you use language in this post and the images that you create, you completely transport me. Thank you Sarah.

  3. Every last word is coated in beauty. Sarah, you give me chills. xo

  4. this looks so amazing Sarah, am gunna make a dairy free version of this 🙂 I love lemongrass!

  5. Eileen says:

    Ooh, this soup sounds amazing! I’ve veen looking for a good way to use the corn I froze this summer, and I think this may be it. 🙂

  6. Beautifully written, Sarah. The recipe looks really good too. 🙂

  7. This is one of my favorite cookbooks, although I have yet to try this recipe. I love your style in this piece, as well (but I always throw out the seeds too!)

  8. I once made the mistake of chopping a jalapeno, then taking out my contacts. You can imagine how that turned out. Now I always wear plastic gloves when chopping anything in the chile family. Lovely post today!

  9. Sacha says:

    I love every single one of your posts, Sarah. But this one might be a new favorite. Just beautiful. I hope this soup helped bring you through your recent illness. I’m sure the spice helped.

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