Tonight Grace from Delicious Intentions shares her fabulous chilled corn soup for a crowd! This recipe serves a 20-25 person crowd…but feel free to scale it back for your crowd at home. Or better yet, make it all and stash some in the freezer for a quick and easy dinner on another night!
I’ve always loved cooking and having dinner parties. Being Italian, it’s in my blood to cook for an army. Even if it’s an intimate dinner for 4, we’ll over cook and make enough for 10. However, cooking for 100 people for my wedding was a more daunting task than I originally expected. Catering my own wedding was even more difficult because it was a buffet style dinner and there was no real way of knowing who would eat what, and how much, especially with the variety of tastes and dietary needs of the guests that planned on attending.
Thankfully, I was able to work with local farmers to get the majority of the produce that I used and they gave me a great bargain (e.g., 5 pounds of garlic for $20 and 12 pounds of basil for $48 and so forth). With what was available, I then looked at the variety of cookbooks I had, and the the family recipes archived away inside my head, to see what options I had for the menu and I built up an extraordinary culinary experience working off of what I had instead of setting out to find the ingredients I needed for recipes already chosen. I supplemented some ingredients with whatever was readily available and then threw in just a few food products from the grocery store (like deli meats and dairy products).
I was able to make ALL the food for under $400 (less than $4 per person) with 15-20 dishes in total being prepared – ranging from cold soups, to antipasto salads to Italian meat sandwiches, and finally, desserts. All the dishes served were inspired by my Italian/Mediterranean culinary style, and a surprising favorite was the chilled sweet corn soup (infused with mint) and served with an optional chili oil inspired by one of Top Chef Season 5 contestant, Jaime Lauren’s recipes.
Originally, some people had their doubts, but after finishing the soup, my cooking helpers loved it, and it ended up being one of, if not the most popular dish at the wedding. Since it was so well received, I have decided to share this recipe in particular with everyone. Sometimes on a budget, you have to do more work, and this recipe will serve 20-25 people and takes about 2 hours to prepare, but it is well worth the effort And despite the stress of catering on a budget, it’s incredibly satisfying to be able to accomplish it all yourself, and even more so when the food is so thoroughly enjoyed by friends and family.
Chilled Sweet Corn Soup with Mint and Chili Oil
15 ears yellow corn, cleaned and cut off cob ($3.00)
1 bunch celery, chopped ($1.50)
5 yellow onions, sliced ($1.15-1.43 depending on how many are in the bag)
5 Russet potatoes, peeled and quartered ($1.50)
10 cloves garlic, smashed ($0.50)
5 qts vegetable stock ($3.13)
1/2 lb butter ($1.67)
1 qt heavy cream ($3.98)
1 bunch peppermint, tied with a string for easy removal ($1.67)
salt to taste
**This soup comes out to be about $0.74-1.30 per serving which is remarkable for a dish that is so filling, and so decadent. Though of course, depending on the season and your local farmers market and grocery stores, your price for the dish might vary.
First, melt the butter in the bottom of a large stockpot. Then add garlic and toast it until golden. Add onions and season with salt, cooking the garlic and onions on medium heat until soft. Once the garlic and onions are soft, add celery and cook until just soft. Now add the potatoes, corn, and peppermint and cover everything with vegetable stock and allow it to come to a simmer. Cook everything together until the potatoes are soft and when the potatoes are soft enough, check the seasoning and remove the peppermint bunch.
Now comes the more difficult part: The soup mixture has to pureed (in small batches) adding a small amount of cream to each batch until smooth. Each pureed batch needs to be strained through a sieve and then allowed to cool. (The seeds inside the corn kernels get stuck in the strainer, so you’ll have to stop and clean them out every now and then. Also, depending on the blender you’re using, you may need to puree the batches more than once to get the most you can from the soup.)
After the soup as cooled, you can adjust the consistency with extra stock (or cream) and re-season the the soup if necessary. Place 6-8oz of the chilled soup in a chilled bowl and garnish with mint leaves and chili oil (optional).
If you’d like to give the soup a little extra kick you can add this chili oil. You’ll need 1 tablespoon of crushed chilies and 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil and some salt, to taste. Combine everything, heat to a simmer, and let it all steep for 20 min. Then, strain the chili oil and reserve it. Enjoy!
Grace is a newlywed, freelance clothing designer, and food enthusiast. As recent college graduate, she have decided to take a few years off before pursuing her doctorate in Psychology in order to immerse herself in a few of my more artistic interests, including food and fashion. She can be found blogging at Delicious Intentions.