It’s corn season here in southern Alberta, where the long hours of sunshine ripen golden cobs to sweet perfection.
As some of you know, I’ve been collecting soup recipes for a while on behalf of the main character in the novel I’m currently drafting (almost done!). So in celebration of the season and my dear protagonist, Libby, I’d like to share another soup-making episode with you.
Sometimes after a corn feast, a few cobs remain. Rather than heat them as leftovers, I make this soup:
I sauté bacon, then use the drippings to soften a small chopped onion, a cubed potato, and some sliced celery. I make a roux with flour, add the de-cobbed corn, salt and pepper, and a box of chicken broth (though Libby doesn’t ever take shortcuts like that when an old hen is at hand), and simmer till cooked. Then I add a couple of glugs (say, ½ cup) of dry white wine and the same of heavy whipping cream, and heat just to a simmer. I top with shredded, aged cheddar and snipped chives.
Now that you’re salivating, let me give you a “taste” of my novel. In this excerpt, Libby is applying for a job at a mom-and-pop diner named Phil ’Er Up—not at all haute cuisine—and initially the owner/chef seems disinterested:
“Experience?” Phil wiped his hands on his apron.
“I’ve worked with the public most of my adult life, usually in sales.” She hoped he’d skip over the part of her résumé that showed lack of references from her most recent employer.
“Cooking jobs?” Apparently Phil didn’t speak in full sentences.
“Uh, well not in a restaurant, per say, but I’m handy with soups.”
“Sorry, no openings.” Phil turned away, crumpling the sheet of paper into a ball and aiming at the garbage can.
“I should mention that I just completed a seminar over at the Belle . . .” She hadn’t finished her pathetic pitch before Phil spun around.
“Virgil Oxenbury’s seminar?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Got Simmer, Scoop, Slurp right here.” He reached for the cookbook and slapped it onto the counter between them. “Certified?”
“My certificate is coming in the mail.” She hoped so, anyway. “I love to design soups. I’ve been cooking since I was quite young and have a real repertoire of recipes I’d love to share with you.”
“Such as?” Phil removed his bib apron, waved towards a table, and poured two cups of coffee. She assumed she should sit.
“I make a terrific Beet Borscht with dill and shreds of beef—”
“Um, well I have a great little Thai Chicken Coconut Soup with lemongrass and chili seasoning—”
Libby sipped her scalding coffee. Apparently this wasn’t a very ethnically diverse restaurant. What attracted Phil to Chef Virgil if not his global palate? She’d love to describe her fantastic concoction of Butternut Squash and Mango soup—fragrant with fresh ginger and turmeric—but Phil’s ban on Oriental flavors put the kibosh on that idea.
Libby glanced at the paper placemat menu lying on the table in front of her. Ah, he was playing to the Midwestern taste for down-home farm cooking. She could do that!
“My Corn Chowder would knock your socks off, Phil.”
To learn whether it does or not, you’ll have to wait till the novel is finished!